When the great T.G. Jones left Everton in 1950, it seemed oddly fitting that his successor shared not only his position, but his name too. Tommy Edwin Jones would perform admirably throughout the 1950s – a decade that can count among the most troubled in the club’s history – as captain and centre half in a succession of teams for which defending with their backs to the wall seemed a perennial habit.
Despite the similarities in name and position, the difference between the two men in their style of play was vast. Whereas T.G. Jones played as a continental-style sweeper, a forerunner of the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, T.E. was a centre back in the traditional mould. Rugged, physical, a doughty tackler and competent man marker, he lacked some of the finesse that marked his predecessor out as one of the game’s greats. But then comparisons were never really fair, for while T.G. Jones came into a team that possessed the likes of Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer, his successor had to play in some of the worst teams in Everton history.
JONES SIGNED professional terms in 1948, aged 18, but had to wait a further two years before making his debut, against Arsenal in September 1950. By Christmas that year he had established himself as first-choice centre half, ahead of David Falder and Maurice Lindley, but the 1950/51 season was catastrophic for Everton and ended in relegation. Jones said later that the team’s struggle strengthened him as an individual.
Through these grim years in the Second Division, Jones improved his play and it seemed fitting that on the day Everton were promoted in April 1954, with a 4-0 win at Oldham, he scored his first goal for the club.
Considered one of the game’s gentlemen and a fine ambassador for the club, it was appropriate that he succeeded Peter Farrell as captain in 1957. But sometimes his sense of fair play was considered a weakness and exploited by his opponents. Jones was centre back on some of the grimmest days ever experienced by Everton’s defences: they conceded six against Portsmouth and Sheffield Wednesday in 1950; eight against Huddersfield in 1953 and Newcastle in 1959; and ten against Tottenham in 1958 – the club’s record defeat.
International honours eluded Jones, although he did play for an England XI against the British Army at Maine Road and also captained the FA side which toured Ghana and Nigeria in 1958.
Towards the end of the 1950s Jones’s chances became more limited with the emergence of Brian Labone. Unruffled by the youngster’s emergence, Jones moved to left back, a position he held until the arrival of George Thomson from Hearts in late 1960. In a Central League game against Barnsley Jones shattered his kneecap. He tried, valiantly,
to regain his fitness, but at the end of the 1961/62 season he called time on his playing career.
‘As a gentleman who oozed decency I have met few to compare him with,’ Alex Young recalled of him. ‘I had the pleasure of playing a couple of games alongside him. Of course, he was approaching the conclusion of his career but nevertheless remained a formidable and honest defender. I suspect he must have yearned for a taste of the footballing success which we enjoyed the following season – the 1962/63 Championship winning campaign.'