A MONUMENT to a Barnsley footballer who died in the Munich air disaster has gained greater significance after the death of his son who helped get the project off the ground.

Mark Jones, born in Low Valley in 1933, was one of 44 people onboard a plane carrying Manchester United players and staff, and some supporters and journalists, which crashed as it attempted to take off from Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany.

The team had just beaten Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup and had stopped at Munich to refuel, with Jones - the club’s first-choice centre back - among the 23 killed as the plane crashed, along with fellow Barnsley man Tommy Taylor.

A campaign to commemorate Mark at the ground in Wombwell where he made his first steps in the game had been backed by his son Gary Jones, 53 - who died following a long-term battle with chronic kidney disease on May 26.

Gary - who was photographed by the Chronicle days before his death - was only two years old at the time of the crash, but always knew how important his dad was to Manchester United, and to Wombwell, where he was born and grew up.

In Text Promo Image

As a youngster, Jones had plied his trade for Wombwell Main - and while his talents as a footballer were apparent, he was also a gifted cricketer, also playing for the cricket club.

Local man Jack Swift is leading the campaign to immortalise Jones with a monument at the ground on Hough Lane.

It was the 60th anniversary of the Munich crash that gave Jack the idea to commemorate the two-time League Championship winner at the ground where he started his career.

“Since I was 15 I’ve been with the club,” said Jack, 69, of Copeland Road.

“He was a schoolboy international and first team player for Manchester United, but there’s no sign of anything round here which I’ve always thought was a shame.

“We’re hoping to do it every year.

“If I can get this sorted before I can’t do it any more, that’ll be good enough for me.”

Jack met with Gary to discuss how to raise money to put the monument in place - and it has been decided a cricket match will be played at the ground, alongside a family event.

The fundraising match between Wombwell Main and the Prince of Wales is planned to take place at 1.30pm on July 2.

Mark’s son Gary will be remembered as ‘big character’

GARY Jones’ wife Susan has paid tribute to her husband after his death.

At two years old Gary, who was born in Stretford Memorial Hospital in Manchester, moved back to Wombwell with his mother June.

He went to Wombwell High School, and upon leaving went to work in construction - a career which he never left.

His wife of 38 years, Susan, said Gary was a ‘big character’ who loved his family.

“He cared a lot, even though he didn’t always show it,” said Susan, 64, of Hough Lane, Wombwell.

“He just did what he could for anyone.

“They used to call his dad a gentle giant, and he had a bit of that.

“People didn’t realise how ill he was - he always just used to say ‘what will be, will be’.”

Gary planned on following in his father’s footballing footsteps, going on trial at Manchester United and other clubs, but an injury cut short his playing career before it began.

He remained a life-long fan of the club and a season ticket holder, and would attend the club’s annual memorial matches in memory of those killed in the Munich disaster.

Susan said he ‘went religiously, even while he was ill’.

Gary leaves three children, Lisa, Mark and Laura, and four grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at Barnsley Crematorium on Tuesday at 12.10pm, with arrangements by Wombwell Funeral Services 750053 - with a gathering afterwards at Locky’s Bar on Park Street, Wombwell.

Gary’s family have requested that donations be made to Barnsley Kidney Dialysis Unit, which Susan said became ‘another family’ to Gary in his final months.