A review: The Prince Of Centre-Halves

On the centenary of his birth, Tommy G. Jones, the Welsh giant, receives the recognition he deserves in Rob Sawyer’s latest work The Prince Of Centre Halves. The Life of Tommy ‘T.G’ Jones.

The latest publication from deCoubertin books, The Prince of Centre-Halves, is a biography of T.G. Jones, the famed Everton and Wales defender. A young man from Connor Quay, few would have anticipated the career that would follow the iconic player.

On a journey from the grassroots of Wrexham to the doorstep of Italy, finally, T.G. Jones is immortalised in a story for all fans of the beautiful game, and the player that inspired the elegant and dominant playing style of Franz Beckenbauer, will no longer be a forgotten hero.

From the go, the reader is thrown into the depths of Jones’ childhood, establishing his roots and where his love from the game originated from. From the school yard to Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground, Rob Sawyer’s free flowing and informative opening chapters build an instant connection between the reader and the iconic centre-half, feeling every crunching tackle, and witnessing the same magnificent display of style and skill that scouts across the country were seeing from the young man.

“He was the best centre-half in the game, though he seemed to be asleep half the time. The point was, though, that even when he was asleep he played better than anybody else on that field.”

William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean (Everton)

Sawyer revives the forgotten memories of Jones’ unique talents, particularly during his heyday years at Everton. Accompanying archive material and interviews with moving and inspiring imagery, Sawyer presents a compelling picture of a brilliant footballer and outspoken and complicated man.

A rebel, pioneer and footballing genius, T.G. Jones’s years as a Toffee proved to be the defining period of his career and lead to what could have been a groundbreaking moment in British football. With a move to Italy just inches away from going into fruition, Jones career took a sharp turn and fall, and Sawyer implants the question in the readers mind; what could have been for T.G. Jones? Did the failed move to AS Roma in 1948 prove to be the downfall of one of the most prolific defenders in history? These questions play on the mind throughout the latter pages of the book, and provoke thoughts over how a player of Jones’s calibre could fall to the abyss of the Welsh league.

The Prince of Centre-Halves. The Life of Tommy ‘T.G.’ Jones is made all the more fascinating and informative by the staggering amount of fan contribution.  The book is lavished with memories and statements from T.G. Jones’s former teammates, opponents and fans, creating a greater sense of humanity about one of footballs greats.

In a touching finale, Sawyer has compiled tributes from those nearest and dearest to Tommy’s footballing world, reminding us that there is always a man behind the player, and that Jones’s influence on the game has transformed the lives of many.

Tommy T.G. Jones
Source: Twitter

As a player, Jones’s style and brilliance cannot be overstated, and Sawyer’s Prince of Centre Halves presents a balanced evaluation of the Welshman’s career. Ultimately, T.G’s breakthrough at Everton proved to be his peak, but in a career that was inconveniently interrupted by World War II, the Welsh giant left a permanent imprint on the game that is still visible in the modern Centre-Half. How should the footballing world remember the uncrowned Prince of Wales? Rob Sawyer’s Prince of Centre-Halves has the answers.

“What does the T.G. in T.G. Jones stand for? Too Good for centre-forwards”

Elfred Ellis (President of the Football Association of Wales in 1993)