Everyone connected with Salford Red Devils is extremely sorry to have learned of the passing of former Salford player, Graham Jones, on 4th November, aged 91. Graham played for Salford between 1954 and 1962, making his debut on 27th November 1954, against Leigh.
A Welshman by birth, Graham was signed from Penarth Rugby Union Club, initially as a stand-off half, but, three years later, his exceptional pace was deemed to be better utilised on the wing, where there was more space, in which for him to run. This proved to be an inspired move because he became a quite prolific try scorer, over the years, going on to complete a total of 119 touchdowns, bringing 357 points, over 239 appearances. The first of these came against Whitehaven, exactly one month after his debut.
The pinnacle of his time here came in the 1959/60 season, when he equalled the club’s post-war try scoring record of 27 tries for the season, which had stood for eleven years, and was only broken in 1971/2, by Maurice Richards.
Over his eight seasons, Graham played in a number of high-profile matches for the Reds. In November 1955, he played against New Zealand, at The Willows, in one of their tour matches. Four years later, he was in the Salford team which took the, then, Australian tourists right to the wire, in an incredible game, before being pipped at the post, 22-20. He, it was, who had put the Reds 10-7 in front, at the interval, with the last score of the first half.
Sadly, his chances of international honours were thwarted by the lack of a Welsh international side, throughout that period. He did, however, pull on the red jersey of Wales, when he was selected at stand-off, alongside three other Salford players, in an unofficial game against France, in Toulouse, on 1st March 1959, which he celebrated with a try in their 25-8 reversal. Because the match had not been recognised as a full international none of the players who took part received international caps for it.
Despite its being his final season in the game, 1961/2 continued in similar vein to all its predecessors, with Graham registering a further 18 tries in 39 appearances, before hanging up his boots, following his final game, which was, remarkably, against Leigh, once more, on 4th May 1962.
His love for Salford, however, never diminished and he continued to live in the region, taking a keen interest in the club’s results and progress. In later years, he was a regular attendee at the Lance Todd Trophy Presentation Dinner, in company with his great friend from that team, Welsh, former centre to him, John Cheshire.
Our sympathies and condolences go out to all his family and friends, at this sad time. His funeral will be held, this coming Wednesday, 22nd November, at St Michael’s Church, Flixton, at 1pm.
Graham Morris – Club historian, and author of ‘100 Salford Greats’