I was talking to Ray Jones just a few weeks ago at Harlington. The 1st Team had played Barnet on the Wednesday and the U18’s had played Palace the following day, so I forget which day it was but Ray Jones was injured and he was walking around the pitch with Aaron Goode, who was also injured. The looked like two easy going young men, almost out for a stroll. As they got nearer to me, I took the chance for a chat, nothing serious. “How are your injuries ?” and “Looking forward to the new Season ?” Both boys chatted with ease, no rush to move away. Ray told me that he was hoping to play at Wycombe, which he did of course and that was the last time I saw him. He aggravated the injury and was back having treatment.
The ‘Friends of QPR’ coach was just past Walsall on route to Burnley when Spencer came down the front to tell Vic that the game was off, but didn’t know why. People have done this before but mucking about. I knew Spencer was serious and as he and Vic spoke, the shock news filtered through from other mobiles. We turned around and stopped the coach for 20 minutes or so, everybody was numb. R’s fans still are !!!
I first saw Ray Jones at the end of the 2003 – 2004 Season when he appeared for the U16’s one Saturday morning. Straight away he looked good, big and strong with a good touch, 6’ 4” and only 16 years old. The following Season, Ricky Sappleton arrived at the Club, a player of very similar attributes. The Youth Team was starting to take shape with a few others coming to the fore but Ray stood out in every way, everybody knew he had it. He was spotted playing Park football, well done to the Coaching staff. His progress was so rapid that he seemed to by-pass the Reserves, making his 1st Team debut as a sub against Watford in April 2006. I must be honest here and say that I thought Ricky would just pip Ray to a 1st Team game but he proved me wrong.
The following week, he made Furs’s goal at Reading, Ray was on his way ! The following pre-Season, Shittu was ‘umming and ahhing’ about staying or going and was refusing to play. Surprisingly, he played at Gillingham in a really poor pre-Season game which QPR won 1-0. Who should score the goal ? Ray Jones ! Ray would go on to play 40 games or so that Season for the R’s and also played for the England U19’s. He would appear in 17 successive games for the 1st Team. Not bad for such a young striker !
Personally, I have always liked laid back sort of players, i.e. Lazarus, Marsh, Fergie, Bowles, Currie, Stainrod, Byrne, Wegerle and more recently, Cookie. Ray, being only 18 wasn’t as good as them yet but he had that style about him. Cool, laid back, great touch and excellent brain. That’s now all been taken away, from his family and from QPR. When I was writing about Kiyan Prince after his passing away, I mentioned about our great QPR Team in heaven, well, the front two will be young and brilliant….and raring to go ! R.I.P. Kiyan Prince and Ray Jones. Players come and go but are never forgotten, believe me !