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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ray Jones Remembered by Joe Gallen, Gary Waddock, Gareth Ainsworth and Fans

Latest Update August 29:

PFA Q&A with Ian Holloway
A "He was a great kid and a wonderful talent. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable. All my love goes out to the family. It's heartbreaking. You expect to be buried by your children. There's no worse thing for a parent than to bury your child. I feel so sorry for them. It's a tragedy." PFA's Give Me Football

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - Mourning a star

"Ray Jones would have gone on to become a full England international, according to the coaching staff who nurtured him at QPR.
Jones, who died in a car accident in east London in the early hours of last Saturday, had already represented his country at under-19 level and had been tipped to win further international honours.
Joe Gallen, who managed Rangers' Centre of Excellence until the end of last season, has no doubt that the young striker was destined to reach the top level.
Spotted playing for Sunday League side Redwood FC by QPR's youth development officer John O'Brien, the 15-year-old Jones was offered an apprenticeship almost immediately.
Gallen recalled: "As soon as we'd seen him play, we offered him a two-year deal straight away. I was sure then that Ray was going to become not only a QPR player, but a top-class Premiership player as well.
"I also thought he had the potential to be a full international player, in time. He was often compared to Peter Crouch and I remember ringing Ray after watching a World Cup game last summer."
"I told him 'When Crouch came back to QPR, he was 19 and people said he was a bit gangly and lethargic. But once he got into his 20s and got a bit more strength, look at what he's done.
'You're only 17 - think what you can do'. Between Ray Jones and Dean Parrett, we had on our hands two of the outstanding young players in the country.
"Everyone at the club knew Ray's potential. He was the best prospect we'd had at this club since Nigel Quashie and I can't believe he is no longer with us."

Gallen's sentiments were echoed by former QPR boss Gary Waddock, who managed Jones at every level up to the first team and handed the striker his senior debut at the end of the 2005-06 season.
Waddock, now the manager of Aldershot Town, told the Times: "I put him on in the last game of the season, at Reading and the lads went to clap the fans at the end of the game.
"As they were walking off the pitch, Ray thanked me for giving him the opportunity. I told him 'you deserve it' and it was typical of him - he was such a nice, nice lad, genuine and honest.
"He was very down to earth and happy. Everybody liked him - he always wanted to listen and learn, he took everything in his stride and he had the world at his feet.
"Ray was a very talented player and he could have gone on right to the top. He'd already made a name for himself and people were aware of his ability.
"I was absolutely shattered when I heard the news on Saturday. It's such a tragedy and I keep thinking about the lad and his family."

Jones went on to make his first start against Southend at the beginning of last season and netted his maiden goal to win a Carling Cup tie against Northampton, almost exactly a year ago.
He also gained his first international call-up, making his England under-19 debut as a substitute against Holland at Walsall's Bescot Stadium in front of his mother, Lorraine.
Gallen added: "I can't say enough good things about Ray and his family. I took his mum and sister up to see Ray make his England debut and they were so proud of him.
"He adored his mum and she adored him back - I had to literally force him to move into digs nearer the training ground because she wanted him at home in East Ham.
"Ray got on with everybody at the club as well - he loved coming in to training and, in those first two years, we spent hours together out on the training ground.
"He was everyone's mate, really. We had such a strong group, people like Pat Kanyuka, Jake Cole, Shabazz Baidoo, Stefan Bailey, Kieron St Aimie and Andrew Howell, and those boys will be devastated."
Jones added five more goals to his QPR tally after John Gregory replaced Waddock, but his final appearance came in Rangers' pre-season game at Wycombe last month.
A foot injury had kept him out of action since then and was the reason for his absence from the Rs squad that travelled to Burnley last weekend.
The Football League agreed to postpone the match out of respect for the striker, whose death came just three days before he was due to celebrate his 19th birthday.
In tribute to Jones, Rangers will wear his name on the backs of their shirts in Saturday's game at home to Southampton.
The club have also decided to retire the number 31 shirt worn by Jones last season as a mark of respect. Kilburn Times

GARETH AINSWORTH, Kilburn Times Step on the Gaz

"I'M sure no-one will mind if I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to Ray Jones and share my memories of him with you.
The first time I ever saw Ray, my initial thought was that he was the tallest lad I'd ever seen. Even then people were talking about him and saying he had something special.
It was a real pleasure to see him come through the youth team and develop as a player. Ray had massive respect for his elders and, in my book, that was another plus point - you sometimes don't see that in younger players.
But there were never any airs and graces about Ray, even after he got his England cap. He just got on with his job and went about it quietly, a real gentle giant.
Never mind playing for England, one thing that stood out about Ray was his ability to sleep for England! He'd fall asleep on the coach going to away games and sometimes we used to find him asleep in the dressing room between training sessions too.
Recently, we both went up to hospital with Paul Hunter, the physio, to have injections on our respective injuries. We were waiting for around 10 minutes, then the nurse called my name and I went up with Paul. Ray didn't react at all, so I looked behind me and there he was, fast asleep!
Only a couple of weeks ago, we were both doing a bit of swimming with Mark Barry, our sports scientist. Mark and myself both jumped in the deep end, began treading water and were breathing quite heavily after about 30 seconds.
Ray didn't seem to be doing a lot, so Mark said: "Come on Ray, are you trying?" Ray just came out with a great one-liner: "It's all right, I can touch the bottom!"
Football is a macho world and sometimes it's difficult to show your emotions. But I can honestly say that these last few days have brought us closer as a unit and there's no need to say 'we're going to do this or that for Ray' - with the character we have at QPR, we'll do it anyway.
We want to remember Ray as he was. His locker's still got his name on it and it'll stay like that for a long time - he wrote his name into QPR history and he won't ever be forgotten.
I won't be playing against Southampton, but I'll be in the stand wearing a shirt with Ray's name on the back, just as the lads will on the pitch.
My thoughts are with Ray's family at this time and I know the rest of the lads are all thinking of them too. Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky Kilburn Times - Shocked fans pay their respects
EVEN before supporters' coaches had returned from their aborted trip to Burnley, many other stunned Rangers fans began gathering at Loftus Road to pay their respects.
A full-size action poster of the teenage star adorned the front of the club shop, while signed shirts, photographs and floral tributes festooned the players' entrance.
Supporters seemed unable to comprehend how Rangers could have been robbed of another bright young talent, barely a year after the tragic death of youth team striker Kiyan Prince.
Season ticket holder Jill Ellacott, who travelled from Edgware with her five children, also QPR fans, said: "Tragedy has hit twice and taken away two lovely lads.
"Speaking to Ray Jones at the Player of the Year do, he seemed a lovely young man. He took all the time in the world for the younger supporters, to stand there and chat and have photos taken.
"It's unbelievable - such a terrible shock. Out of anybody, I would have said he had a bright future. I feel so sorry for his family and I know every QPR supporter will feel the same."
Her sentiments were echoed by Tony Duffy, an Rs supporter since 1964, having come down from Amersham, Bucks, to pay his respects to Jones outside the ground.
"When does it stop, for God's sake? Everyone was looking forward again this year, but for something like this to happen is a terrible loss," he said.
"It won't be easy, but all I can hope for is that we come back stronger and bring back some happy times instead of tragedy."
Like most fans, Jason Coker, from Holland Park, was taken aback when he received the shocking news of the young striker's death on Saturday morning.
"I was out and one of my mates texted me. I didn't honestly believe it was true, but then my dad rang me and told me it was and I felt I had to come down to the ground.
"One of the best moments I remember from last year was him scoring that winning goal at Cardiff. He was one of the best youngsters we've had at QPR for a long, long time.
"A lot of Premiership clubs were looking to buy Ray Jones last year and that shows you how good he was. He was the future of QPR and he'll be missed big time. Kilburn Times

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