When former Bridlington Town striker Graeme Jones was seen on TV at the weekend celebrating Wigan Athletic’s FA Cup final win over Manchester City it brought back memories of Town’s FA Vase success at Wembley exactly 20 years ago to the week.
That season, the most successful in Bridlington Town’s history, they won the FA Vase, Northern Premier League Division One title and signed off by beating North Ferriby United 3-1 to lift the ERCFA Senior Cup at Boothferry Park, Jones scored one of the goals to bring his season’s tally to 30.
His performances that season helped him achieve his boyhood ambition to become a professional footballer when he signed pro forms for Doncaster Rovers for a £10,000 fee.
He spent three seasons with Rovers before a £150,000 move to Wigan Athletic and in his first season Jones scored 31 goals, which is still a club record. After three and a half seasons at Wigan he moved to Scottish club St Johnstone in a £100,000 move. He had spells with Southend United, Boston United, Bury, Clyde and finally Hamilton in 2005 where injury brought his playing career to an end and he took his first step into management when Hamilton made him assistant manager.
His big break came in March 2007 when Roberto Martinez, who knew Jones from their days at Wigan, invited Jones to join him as assistant manager at Swansea where the duo spent two seasons until 2009 when they were invited to take over the reigns at Wigan Athletic and the rest, as they say, is history, especially after Saturday’s remarkable achievement.
The Free Press spoke to Graeme on Monday and his first comment was, understandably,”What a fantastic day!”
He went on to say: “I had a fantastic season at Bridlington Town and when we won the Vase at Wembley I felt as if I had climbed Mount Everest, so much did it mean to me, but to be at Wembley twenty years later lifting the FA Cup words just cannot describe the feeling.”
I asked him if there was anyone in particular who had helped him in the early days of his career and without hesitation he said: “Yes, Ken Richardson, he had a massive influence on my career in football and in life in general.
“He opened my eyes with his advice and guidance and was without doubt a major influence in my life. I hope he was proud of me on Saturday because without his help and guidance I would not be where I am today.”
1993 FA Vase
Town became the first Yorkshire side to win it at Wembley and this is how they did it.
Round Two: Eppleton CW (H) won 1-0 J Robson.
Round Three: Brigg Town (A) won 3-1 G Jones 2, D Woodcock.
Round Four: Curzon Ashton (H) won 5-3 aet G Parkinson, J Robson, I McKenzie, I Noteman 2.
Round Five: Rothwell Town (A) won 2-1 aet Robinson, D France.
Round Six: Banstead Athletic (H) won 1-0 G Jones.
Semi-final 1st leg: Gresley Rovers (H) won 2-1 A Radford 2.
Semi-final 2nd leg: Gresley Rovers (A) drew 1-1 G Jones.
Final at Wembley: Tiverton Town won 1-0 A Radford.