Played for both: Billy Jones

Billy Jones made his Crewe debut at the age of 16
Billy Jones made his Crewe debut at the age of 16
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Crewe Alexandra’s famed youth production line was to benefit Preston in the summer of 2007.

That is when they swooped for Billy Jones, a right-back who had made his Alex debut at the age of 16 and went on to make more than 140 appearances for them.

When his contract was up in June 2007, North End persuaded him to move to Deepdale.

With the clubs unable to agree a transfer fee, it went to a tribunal in Manchester.

PNE were ordered to pay an extra £50,000 on top of a £200,000 down payment they had already made.

A further £250,000 had to follow a few months later, with more payments dependent on appearances.

It was money well spent by North End, who got good and loyal service from Jones.

Over the next four seasons he played 174 games in PNE colours and was a consistent figure at right-back and, towards the end of his stay, at left-back too.

When he first signed, Jones played second fiddle to Graham Alexander.

But within a few weeks of the start of the 2007/08 campaign, Grezza signed for Burnley in a £200,000 deal, his exit allowing Jones to make the right-back berth his own.

He scored 13 times for PNE although had to wait until part-way into his second season to find the net for the first time.

Like buses, two came along at once – in the space of five days – the first in a 2-0 win over Watford and then in a 3-2 defeat at Southampton’s hands.

In terms of league position, that season was Jones’ best finish with North End as they reached the Championship play-off semi-finals after dramatically clinching sixth place on the final day.

The Shropshire lad stayed for another two seasons, his time bridging the crossover from Alan Irvine to Darren Ferguson and then from Fergie Jnr to Phil Brown.

With Paul Simpson being the manager who initially signed him, Jones saw plenty of changes at the top.

In his final season, he won the player of the year award but was unable to help Preston fight off relegation.

The defender tried his best, scoring two late equalisers to earn creditable draws in away games at Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.

Both goals earned him yellow cards for whipping off his shirt in celebration!

As the time ticked down on his contract and no offer of a new one forthcoming until far too late in the day, relegation at the end of the 2010/11 season was to signal his departure.

Amid strong speculation linking him with a switch to Everton, Jones signed for West Bromwich Albion in July 2011 on a Bosman.

As at Crewe, he had seen out his full contract before choosing to move on.

England manager Roy Hodgson was in charge at Albion when Jones made his move to the Hawthorns.

At the time of the switch, Jones said: “The Premier League is a fresh challenge.

“I’m still young and I’m looking forward to hopefully cracking it.”

He did crack it, playing 66 games for the Baggies in the top flight over three seasons.

Again, Jones saw out the full three years of his Albion contract and then made a Bosman switch to Sunderland last summer.

Injuries have meant he has yet to established himself on Wearside, with just six Premier League starts and four cup appearances under his belt for the Black Cats.

Jones is certainly the stand-out name from the list of players who have played for both North End Crewe down the years.

Sean Haselgrave was a key part of the PNE side which won promotion in 1977/78 from the Third Division under Nobby Stiles.

After four years of good service to the Preston midfield, he joined Crewe.

Vernon Allatt – in the PNE side which had to seek 
re-election in 1986 – joined from Crewe.