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Monday, 15 October 2012 (3031521)
Tributes to Tarleton footballer Jonesy paid in US and UK
by David Simister

POIGNANT tributes on both sides of the Atlantic have been paid to a football coach from Tarleton who was killed in New York last week.

Last Saturday members of Tarleton Corinthians set off 25 balloons before their match in honour of 25-year-old Mike Jones - affectionately nicknamed Jonesy by his former teammates - following a memorial service held at First Baptist Church in White Plains, New York, which more than 500 mourners attended last week.

Tarleton Corinthians said in a statement paying tribute to their friend and former player: “His first love was always football, and it was no surprise when he moved to the USA to coach professionally. Jonesy still played for Tarleton when he came home in the close season; he always wanted a game with the boys!

”Always ‘one of the lads’ himself, he could be relied upon to share a joke and was a particularly popular member of the squad. He was well respected by the players and leagues with whom he played. Everyone associated with Tarleton Corinthians is saddened by the loss of a great friend and team-mate. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at such a devastating loss.“

Players also wore black armbands and observed a minute's silence to pay tribute to the Edge Hill graduate, who was fatally stabbed in Manhattan in the early hours of Sunday, October 7.

The talented West Lancashire footballer, who showed off his skills from an early age at Tarleton High School, was working as a youth coach for the New York Red Bulls, one of the most successful teams in US Major League Series.

The memorial service in New York included a tribute from friend and colleague John Birchall, who told international media last week that the Tarleton player was ”always smiling, laughing and joking“ and was ”just such a fun guy to be around all the time.“

The service not only saw mourners wear Red Bulls soccer kits but also many wearing Liverpool FC scarves, in a nod to the team Mike Jones supported.

The New York Red Bulls have been sent dozens of tributes, including one from Matt Weston, head coach at US soccer team Oscala Stampede, who said: ”Having been in the United States coaching for 6 years and living in NYC for a short time I am so saddend about this news. I don't know Mike personally but have heard of many who knew him and to think something like this could happen is shocking.

“The time, effort and energy to stay in the country and try and develop the soccer talent here is a commitment made by many from the UK and it comes out of love to try and make a difference in the sport which we love. You most certainly have done that Mike and as you look down from your ‘soccer heaven' you can smile at the difference to you made to many young soccer players. Rest in peace.”

The man suspected by police in New York of carrying out Mike Jones' murder, 32-year-old Orlando Orea, is understood to have left a note apologising for the stabbing, before fleeing to Mexico.

Last week, Tarleton High School, Edge Hill University and the New York Red Bulls were among those leading tributes to the talented player.


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