|Frank Jones by Alex Service |
A double agent, in that this player was a member of the Chester College XV, where he was on a teacher-training course, when he first started to play for Saints. His name was W. Parker in the programme, but his real name was Frank Jones. His first game was against the Wigan A team at Knowsley Road on Good Friday 1929, when he was instrumental in guiding his new team-mates to a 44-6 victory. The St. Helens Newspaper was full of praise: “F Parker, the new scrum-half shone in every moment and was agreed by all to be the best scrum-half seen in the St. Helens team for some time. He varied his play like a veteran, served his stand-off like an adept and tackled like a terrier.” He played his first game for the seniors shortly after, against Barrow, on 1st April 1929, when the Saints won 9-5. The two usual half-backs, Dowdall and Dennett, had been rested for the next match against Hunslet and Parker and [RE] Bob Jones were drafted in. It should, of course, have been Jones and Jones! The St. Helens Newspaper then revealed the identity of the mysterious Parker as: “the son of Mr. Fred Jones,” Who was “still at college and played as an amateur.” [Fred Jones was a member of the St. Helens Committee at the time and went on to become Chairman after Jim May. He was Chairman when the club won it’s first-ever Championship final in 1932 against Huddersfield.]
Further details of the career of Frank Jones can be found below, following an interview with Keith Macklin, long after he had finished playing.
Frank Jones by Keith Macklin (Old Timers Corner 3rd June 1958)
A Sporting Headmaster
Nowadays the white-haired, quietly-spoken Headmaster of Sutton Manor Primary School bears only a faint resemblance to the youngster with the dark, frizzy mop of black hair who once had the reputation of being one of the fastest scrum-halves in Rugby League.
Yet if you look closely, you see it is the same man, Frank Jones, who has acquired the white hair of distinction a little before his time and who now lives in a comfortable and pleasantly-situated house at 158, St. Helens Road, Rainford.
As a footballer, cricketer and latterly as a school sports administrator, 49 year old Frank Jones has done his full stint as a local sportsman.
Frank Jones had a successful rugby career cut short by his decision, I feel a wise one, that his future as a schoolmaster was more important than his brief period as a professional rugby footballer. He has not regretted his decision and it has proved a wise one.
Frank Jones, a modest man, lays no claims to greatness as a scrum-half. “I was fast,” he said, “but I played about as many A Team games as First Team games for both St. Helens and Wigan.”
Perhaps in saying that, Frank was being too modest, for there are many contemporaries of his playing career who are willing to testify that he was a lively handful for anyone to come up against.
He was born in St. Helens and educated at Cowley and Chester College. Inevitably he played rugby at school and became a member of the Chester College XV. Saints got to hear about him and in 1927-28 they got the curly-haired youngster to sign for them. At about the same time, the late Bob Jones also joined the Saints, also from Chester College, and Frank recalls amusingly how people to this day persist in regarding them as brothers. Actually, they were not related.
Frank has one or two press cuttings (“I only kept a few”) which testify to his ability. One describes him as “The fastest man in Rugby League.”
However, in his three seasons with St. Helens, Frank played most of his games on the wing as deputy for Ellaby or Frodsham. Competition was tough for a First Team place and although Frank got a lot of games, he could never call himself a regular.
Then in 1930, Wigan got to hear about this speedy Spare Man at St. Helens, came over to talk to him and obtained his signature.
So Frank went to Central Park and won his only medal in the famous Wigan v Recs Lancashire Cup final at Swinton. Many local people believe that Frank scored Wigans try in the 18-3 defeat. He claims he didn’t, the actual scorer being Johnny Ring.
For three seasons Frank played scrum-half for Wigan. Then the chance of a responsible step-up in the teaching profession came along and he decided that his future as a teacher came first. He hung up his boots while still in his mid-twenties.
That was not, however, the end of him as a sportsman. As a member of St. Helens Cricket Club for 30 years he played both for St. Helens First XI and the Second XI and captained the club in the Centenary Year.
He has also been a keen worker in school sports and for 18 years was Treasurer of St. Helens Schools Sports Association. He is at present Chairman of the Association.
To round off, he has been a member of St.Helens Badminton Club and “plays a fair game of tennis.”
One of Franks tales, all sporting old-timers have them, is one about the aforementioned great winger Johnny Ring. Johnny, not the over-aggressive type who cut up rough on the field was sent off for the first and only time in his life in a match at Wigan. He was caught retaliating after someone had “swung one on him.”
In the dressing room after the game the Wigan lads tried to console Johnny for losing his unblemished record. “Never mind,” said John, in his musical Welsh accent. “I have now won every honour in the game.”
In a match at Leigh, on a wet and wild day, Wigan were gunning for a top-four place and a win was vital. Before the game, Mr.Harry Lowe, the Wigan Chairman spoke to the players. Drily, he commented: “Get out there and play your hearts out lads. And if any of you feel cold, come off into the dressing room.” As the team blinked, he added “because if you feel cold, you are not doing anything and you might as well come off.”
Frank has a quiet laugh when he remembers the tremendous rivalry that used to exist during New Years Day derby games between Saints and Recs.
On one occasion, the two teams went hammer and tongs into each other as was their wont and Recs finally won 3-0. In the bath afterwards, all was forgiven. “Happy New Years” were wished all-round and after the ablutions, Frank and Tommy Dingsdale set off to walk home together, doughty foes walking and laughing side by side. They laughed out loud when, at Boundary Road corner, they saw two spectators, one Saints one Recs, fighting over the result of the match.
One of the most remarkable tries scored by Wigan at Leeds was engineered by Frank. It was a weird effort. Satterthwaite, a huge Leeds forward, tackled Frank some few yards from the Wigan line, lifted the little fellow up and carried him over the line to dump him triumphantly.
Satterthwaite, after completing his mission, turned round to prepare for the five-yards scrum, but Frank had fallen on his back, had not grounded the ball and was up on his feet again.
As the crowd howled, Satterthwaite looked one way and Frank went the other. The movement went the full length of the field and Johnny ring finished it with a try in the opposite corner. Last laugh for Leeds, they won the match! Frank recalls seeing Atkinson, the powerful Castleford centre score his famous goal at Knowsley Road and he is willing to stake his oath that it was all of 70 yards. Atkinson took a free kick from just outside his own 25 and with the Saints crowd preparing to hoot and jeer walloped the ball with a ponderous and towering heave-ho plumb through the centre of the posts. “And the ball was nearer the top of the uprights than the bottom,” adds Frank as a postscript.
These days Frank watches little rugby, though he still follows it with interest through the press and of course, through the never-ending discussions in which this rugby town thrives. He is first and foremost a headmaster, with his brief rugby heyday behind him.
In 1939 Frank was living in Brynn Street, St Helens. He died in St Helens in December 1977, aged 69.
|Season (Official Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|Season (Other Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|1st Apr 1929||W||6||Barrow||L||1928~29||H||9||5||VIEW|
|31st Aug 1929||L||7||Widnes||L||1929~30||H||0||3||VIEW|
|2nd Oct 1929||L||6||Hull||L||1929~30||A||5||8||1||VIEW|
|5th Oct 1929||L||5||Halifax||L||1929~30||A||13||19||VIEW|
|12th Oct 1929||W||5||Broughton Rangers||LC1||1929~30||A||10||9||VIEW|
|26th Oct 1929||L||7||Castleford||L||1929~30||H||10||20||VIEW|
|23rd Nov 1929||L||5||Leigh||L||1929~30||A||3||5||VIEW|
|30th Nov 1929||W||5||York||L||1929~30||A||18||5||VIEW|
|7th Dec 1929||W||5||Wigan Highfield||L||1929~30||H||8||0||VIEW|
|14th Dec 1929||W||5||Barrow||L||1929~30||A||12||2||1||VIEW|
|1st Jan 1930||L||5||St. Helens Recs||L||1929~30||A||0||3||VIEW|
|4th Jan 1930||L||5||Oldham||L||1929~30||A||4||20||VIEW|
|*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.|