Played For Both Sides – Versatile Billy No-Mates

We take a look at one player to have turned out for both Sunderland and Preston North End in their career

So, as a nice distraction from transfer frustration, let’s take a look back at a player to have donned the shirts of both Sunderland and our hosts this weekend, Preston North End


Never has a player looked more like a product of his time than Billy Jones, for when he was first making waves in football in the mid-noughties, Billy Jones looked exactly like every member of The Kooks.

A versatile full-back by trade, Jones was a product of the ever-prestigious Crewe Alexandra academy, making his first team debut way back in 2003 as a fresh faced 16 year old. Even better, Jones went on to score his first professional goal just two months later, which would win him the club’s goal of the season award, and he’d add to it with the Young Player of the Year award to boot.

Jones’ time at Crewe was one of seemingly endless promise, as he rose through the England youth ranks amassing 25 caps at all levels up to U20, so when Alex were relegated to League One in 2006, you’d have expected him to be off in a flash. Instead, he hung around for one more season (in which they failed to return to the second tier) before leaving on a free for Preston North End.

A messy tribunal followed, which meant that Preston ultimately paid £250k up front, with  another £200k+ to follow. Jones had the enviable task of replacing Preston hero Graham Alexander, but he more than stepped up to the job, as after his initial breakthrough year, he never made fever than 43 league appearances for the Lilywhites in his remaining three seasons in Lancashire.

Jones was made captain towards the end of his stint at Preston, but was unfortunately unable to lead them away from the drop, and they suffered relegation to League One in 2011, in what would be his last year at the club.

A free transfer (for real this time) move to West Brom was next on the menu for Jones, as he stepped up to the Premier League, a level he’d stay at for the next six years. Truth be told, his time with the Baggies wasn’t particularly remarkable, as a mixture of injuries and the form of first choice right back, Steven Reid, meant his appearances were limited.

However, one notable plus from his time in the Black Country came in April 2013, where he netted his first Premier League goal, to level the score against Newcastle.

Following the expiration of his contract in May 2014, Jones was on the move again, this time on the look out for regular first team action. Sunderland came in for him and gave him the number two shirt, replacing long-time rightback, Phil Bardsley.

Jones’ time at Sunderland is a bit of mixed bag, as he came in at a time where the wheels were held on by blue tack. His form was unremarkable, but so was the teams for the most part. In his first season, he managed just 18 games in all competitions, with injuries again taking a toll, but he somehow managed to get booked eight times, which is impressive.

In something of a theme, Jones’ first goal for Sunderland came in his second season, hitting the second in our 3-0 triumph over Morals & Ethics United as Big Sam started kicking things into gear for us in late 2015.

Jones’ next goal (and final in the top flight) came the following year against Hull City. Sunderland had already been relegated, Hull had Marco Silva in charge, who had not lost a home game in around 19 years, and they needed a win to have any chance of staying up. So naturally, David Moyes’ useless band of knackers won 2-0 courtesy of Jones and Jermain Defoe.

As Sunderland fell into the Championship, Jones stuck around, and like most of us, we assumed that he’d be one of the players who might actually be alright a league below. So naturally, the highlight of Jones’ final season at the Stadium of Light was to score an early equaliser away at Ipswich…the game we would lose 5-2, which exposed Simon “had them on the ropes” Grayson as being the lunatic he truly was. Jones left at the end of the 17/18 season, having played a total of 87 games for the club, and being booked a spectacular 29 times.

Upon leaving Wearside, Jones turned up in the Championship again with Rotherham, who were promptly relegated. Jones failed to break into the Miller’s team fully in League One, and so, for the second half of his final season in Yorkshire, he completed a romantic loan spell back to where it all started, Crewe Alexandra. Unfortunately for Billy though, he was reduced to just three appearances (two draws and a defeat), and called it a day at the end of the season.

Billy Jones, he moved in his own way. Usually either straight into the ref’s book, or, inexplicably, to score against that lot.

Joined Left League Apps League Goals
Sunderland 2014 2018 87 3
Preston 2007 2011 160 13