Death of a Welsh wizard

WAKEFIELD Trinity are mourning the loss of 60s legend Berwyn Jones, who died aged 66 last Friday after suffering from motor neurone disease, writes Leon Wobschall.

The jet-heeled Welshman made his name in athletics, and was a member of the world record 4x110 yards relay team, but Wakefield shocked the sporting world when they handed trials to the speedster, who played under the nom-de-plume of “Walker” in Easter matches against Huddersfield and Doncaster in March 1964.

Immediately after the Dons match, terms of 6,000 were agreed and Jones - fourth fastest in the world over 100 yards and the British 100 yards champion and 100m record holder (10.3secs) - swapped track and field and a potential tilt at Olympic glory for Belle Vue.

Rhymney-born Jones’ previous rugby experience had seen him turn out for his hometown club at union and his phenomenal speed saw him cut a dash with RL supporters, while he also added a neat swerve and sidestep along with first-class tackling skills to his armoury.

Jones featured ten times in 1963-64, notching ten tries and at the start of the following season, collected his first honour - a Yorkshire Cup winners medal in only his 25th game in RL, with the express-paced star electrifying the crowd by grabbing two tries in the 18-4 win over Leeds at Fartown.

Just nine months after turning professional, he made an international try-scoring debut for Great Britain against France at Perpignan and he went onto represent Other Nationalities and a Commonwealth XIII before being selected for the 1966 Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand.

He topped the appearance count for Trinity in 1964-65 and despite injury restricting his appearances the following season, he ended the campaign as the club’s top try-scorer with 19 along with Gert Coetzer and also gained a Yorkshire League Championship winners medal.

After 89 matches in Trinity colours, which saw him score an impressive 47 tries, Jones was eventually transferred to Bradford Northern for 3,000 in February 1967 and left Odsal for St Helens two years later before his premature retirement.

A minutes silence will be held in memory of Mr Jones, who died in the town of Ross on Wye, prior to Trinity’s clash with Dewsbury this Sunday afternoon.