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Oh Joey, Joey by Joey Jones

Release date: 28th September, 2005
Publisher: Blake Publishing

List Price: £17.99
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The average sports fan has grown used to hearing team coaches urging the need for their charges to 'stay focused', but it is difficult for most of us to comprehend the levels of concentration required to blank out the sounds of a noisy stadium, especially when it can comprise shouting, chanting and occasional collective abuse.

Little wonder that when a try/goal/point/putt is registered, the professional sportsman (or woman) explodes with relief, lets rip a guttural roar of delight and accompanies this moment of uninhibited joy with a raised arm and a fisted salute.

Former Welsh international Joey Jones didn't score many goals (he was a full-back), but used to take to the field as though he had scored a hat-trick.

As he and his Liverpool teammates emerged from the darkness of the player's tunnel to be greeted by the tumultuous Anfield roar, Jones would make a point of sprinting towards the Kop and show his unwavering affinity with the massed thousands of red-and-white clad supporters by clenching his fist in a show of mutual support and respect.

The fans loved Joey for it. He was one of the first high-profile footballers to display his club affinity by means of a tattoo, having the initials LFC inscribed onto his forearm; thousands copied him. There are dozens of players who have since professed to show their unstinting love of a football club in similar fashion, but what separated Jones from the current batch of lavishly-patterned foreign mercenaries is that he could have taken his place on the Kop and no-one would have batted an eyelid.

He is gracious enough to acknowledge his own perceived shortcomings and to appreciate his good fortune: "I wasn't a great player," he writes, "I had my limitationsÖI was just one of the lads who were fortunate enough to be out there on the pitch. To play for Liverpool was an incredible honour for me."

In truth, however, you do not get to play for the European Champions by being lucky - you have to be exceptional and, during his comparatively brief spell with the club (he played just 72 games), Jones showed that had he possessed a more even temperament, he could have sprinted out in front of the Kop on many more occasions.

As it was, after Jones left Anfield, replaced by Newcastle's Alan Kennedy, he returned to Wrexham, the club that had given him his start in professional football and where he still is today.

In between times, however, he managed to win more caps for Wales than any other player (a record since surpassed) and notes his award of a 'golden cap' for making more than 50 appearances for the national side as one of the pinnacles of his career. As befits a man who could make some of the game's hard boys look like schoolgirls, this autobiography is full of skirmishes with characters as varied as Brazil's Socrates and Chelsea's then chairman, Ken Bates. On neither occasion did Jones back down.

Were it not for football, one wonders where Joey would have ended up, but like Kevin Keegan, one of his contemporaries in the great Liverpool side of the 1970s, he has shown that by being dedicated - or perhaps we should say focused - Jones has enjoyed the fruits of his labour. It just would have been great to see him sprint out at Anfield a few more timesÖ


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