The Aberystwyth Town faithful eulogize the name Richard Jones. Having played for Town’s reserve side for a number of years, he earned himself a fearful reputation as a combative player that would leave everything out on the pitch. Although his playing days are now over, the legacy of the Jones family still hangs around Park Avenue. ‘Gas’ is still a regular attendee at the ground and can be seen cheering on the side from behind the barriers of the pitch.
However, this season, his influence extends onto the pitch as the figurative torch has been passed to the man playing number 17 for Aberystwyth Town: Matthew Jones, son of Richard Jones.
Having graduated from the very successful Shrewsbury Town Youth Academy, the former Penglais pupil signed for his hometown club over the summer after impressing the management staff with a series of assured and mature performances during the preseason.
With his proud dad watching from the sidelines, Jones is delighted to be continuing the family legacy in Black and Green: “Dad’s backing me all the way so I couldn’t ask for more really!”
It’s easy to forget that Jones is still in his teenage years. With grace and assured both with and without the ball, he reads the game superbly well, taking the jump into a tough and unforgiving league in his stride.
“As soon as I didn’t get approached by Shrewsbury, I was trying other places and to represent my home side. I just wanted to play for Aber,” Matthew told Aber Town's Youtube Channel after Friday night's match at home to TNS.
A humble and hard working young man, the youngster has been highly impressive in the formative stages of his Town career. Having been brought into the club as a midfielder, a spate of circumstances including suspensions, injuries and players leaving for pastures new has seen the Commins Coch youngster slot into the left back role. It is a role that he has taken in his stride and one he enjoys. “I’ve played at left back before. I’ll play wherever I’m needed but I’ll always give it my all and try my hardest so that the team can get the result.”
It’s this attitude that has seen Jones become the toast of the Aberystwyth tifosi. With a continual thirst from supporters for local players to be included amongst the playing squad, Jones fits the bill in every criteria and has grown in stature over the past number of games, turning out his finest performance in Aberystwyth colours at home to league juggernauts TNS on Friday evening.
A man of the match performance saw him keep the extremely dangerous and lively Simon Spender at bay down the flanks as well as adding his own attacking flair into the equation saw Neville Powell’s men push the reigning champions all the way.
Assistant manager Wayne Jones was keen to credit the youngster following the completion of the full time whistle. “Full credit to him. He’s come in over the last three games and he’s been superb. He’s hard working, he’s local and he loves playing here. Against the best side in the league, he was exceptional.”
Jones took a philosophical view of Friday night’s proceedings, pointing out the positives but also sharing a similar view to all associated with Aberystwyth Town that they’d come so close to gaining a valuable and much deserved point.
“I thought we played really well. After going 1-0 I thought we played really well. They had a few chances but nothing that really troubled us other than Draper missing a good chance. We’re disappointed we haven’t taken anything away from it because we pushed them all the way.”
Nevertheless, despite an upturn in performances and results, Town still find themselves with work to do, especially given Prestatyn’s victory over Bangor. With Town visiting the former next Saturday, Powell and his men know that a positive result is a must if Aber want to catapult themselves up the table. But Jones knows that the dressing room is equipped for the task.
“The confidence is sky high at the moment especially given the run we’ve been on recently and taking the champions all the way. We’re confident and we know we can turn this around.”
The baton has definitely been passed onto the next generation of the Jones family. From his early performances, Town’s faithful can be confident that performances from all in a similar ilk of those of this father and son duo will see Town rise up the league once again.
Photos courtesy of Chris Howells