LFC Advent Calendar: 1 – Brad Jones
This is the first in a series of fun articles as we’ll be counting down to Christmas this year with an LFC Advent Calendar. Each day will correspond with a single player who wore that number for Liverpool. There’s plenty of opportunities to write about the usual contingient of former legends and current stars, so instead, we’ll be focusing on some memorable Reds that don’t often get featured; the good, the bad, and the downright hilarious. We hope you enjoy Day 1 of our LFC Advent Calendar. Happy Holidays!
Brad Jones isn’t the first goalkeeper to come to mind when you think back on the long list of people to don the number 1 jersey for Liverpool. However, he was a loyal servant, great bloke, and produced some lasting memories from the limited opportunists afforded to him.
Jones signed in 2010 for £2.3 million from Middlesborough, but not many will know that his roots in Liverpool trace back far further than that. The Australian is a self-confessed boyhood Liverpool fan, and his mother was even born on Merseyside, in Maghull.
Jones made a debut of sorts in a Jamie Carragher testimonial, before making his actual competitive debut against Northampton Town in the early rounds of the FA Cup. He had to wait until Christmas for his second match, this time against FC Utrecht in the Europa League, keeping his first clean sheet for the club.
Jones was loaned out for the remainder of the season to Derby County, and had been included in Australia’s World Cup squad, but he then withdrew from first-team action and the Summer tournament, opting to spend more time with his son, Luca, who’d just been diagnosed with leukemia.
Tragically, Luca passed away on the 19th of December, 2011, aged just 5 years old.
Liverpool had a minute silence before their next two games, away and at home, and after beating Chelsea 2-1, Charlie Adam expressed his sympathy for the popular ‘keeper.
“I’d like to dedicate the win to Brad Jones who had a difficult week losing his son. That one was for you big man and we are all thinking about you.”
In April of 2012, Jones would finally make his return to the first-team in unusual circumstances against Blackburn in the Premier League. Pepe Reina had previously been sent off against Newcastle, and so was suspended for the match. Backup ‘keeper Alexander Doni (remember him?) started the game in his place, with Jones on the bench. Doni too would get sent off midway through the first half after giving away a penalty. Jones saved Yakubu’s strike from the spot, acknowledged the supporters, and then pointed to the sky in tribute to Luca.
After the game, Jones said,
“The supporters have been brilliant. It’s been a difficult 18 months obviously with my son passing away. So, that was for him, and for them. This week my girlfriend gave birth to a little boy, so it’s been a big week.”
Jones would start the following game against local rivals Everton in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley. He’d joked, saying “It wasn’t something I was planning on”. He had a brilliant game, making numerous important saves to send us through to the final, and after the full time whistle, his teammates all flocked to him, celebrating the win, his performance, and how he was able to battle through a horrible tragedy to inspire the team to victory.
In the process, he gained the unique distinction of being the first Liverpool player to feature in four different competitions in his first four games (five if you count Carragher’s testimonial).
He continued his excellent form throughout 2012, stepping in for an injured Reina, and earned plenty of plaudits from the fans and the manager. For this, he was awarded a new contract.
Upon signing, Jones said,
“Very happy to be staying at such a great club. Only one place to be.”
His playing time was further reduced after Simon Mignolet arrived, but he did get the chance to captain his boyhood club in a pre-season game about Shamrock Rovers.
His last proper run of games came after Mignolet was dropped for poor form, and Jones stepped up to replace him. Unfortunately, injury scuppered his chances to impress as he’d done previously when replacing Reina. He was sadly released in 2015 and later joined Feyenoord, helping them to win the 2016/17 Erediverse, collecting 17 clean sheets on the way and sharing the title with his former Liverpool teammate, Dirk Kuyt.
Though he only made 27 appearances for Liverpool, I’ll always remember Brad Jones. He wasn’t the greatest ‘keeper to ever play for us, but he was a loyal, and effective player to have at the club who instead of sulking, would light up the room with his smile, positive attitude, and love for the club, even when he wasn’t playing. No one ever thought he’d play any games at all, considering he was third-choice for most of his time on Merseyside, but he managed to create a handful of special memories in the limited time given to him, doing himself, and the fans proud.
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Strange to think Stevie will no longer wear the red of LFC. He's been the clubs icon for many a year and carried the team at times. It's an honour to have been a teammate and also to have played against him. Certain players can make others better in their presence, Stevie has definitely been that player. I would also like to add my thanks to all the LFC fans for the support that I have received over the past 5yrs. It has been the best and worst periods of my life and I have always felt the warmth of these amazing people. I would have loved to have stayed at the club I have supported since the age of 5 but sometimes the dream ends. I got to play in some amazing games, 2 Merseyside derbies with one being at Wembley which will stay with me forever. From myself and my family, Thank You! YNWA Brad Jones
From one Aussie to another, cheers Brad. All the best for the rest of your career.