Danny Jones: Tributes paid to late stand-off at Keighley game

Record crowd pays tribute to Jones
By Simon Stone, BBC Sport

Keighley Cougars' biggest crowd since 1995 paid tribute to stand-off Danny Jones at Cougar Park.

The League One game with Coventry was Keighley's first since Wales international Jones collapsed at London Skolars last Saturday and later died aged 29 because of a heart condition.

His wife, Lizzie, and the couple's five-month-old twins, Bobby and Phoebe went onto the field prior to kick-off.

"The club doesn't know what has hit it," said chairman Gary Fawcett.

Danny Jones tribute
Danny Jones's widow Lizzie (l) and their twins at the game on Sunday

Player-coach Paul March has set Keighley the task of winning the League One title in Jones's honour.

A statement was read out on Lizzie's behalf prior to the game, then another from Jones's family, both thanking the Keighley club and the rugby league community as a whole for the support they have shown in the most awful of circumstances.

A crowd of 4,066 watched the game and a bucket collection in aid of Jones' family raised more than £10,000.

"We have kept busy, which has minimised the tears," said Fawcett.

"It was uncertain the game would be played, but Lizzie insisted. She said it is what Danny would have wanted."

Deaths in rugby league
Jones is the second rugby league player in just over six years to die after collapsing during a match.
Wakefield forward Leon Walker, who was 20, fell ill during a reserve game with Celtic Crusaders in Maesteg in March 2009. It was later discovered that he had an undiagnosed heart defect and a coroner ruled that he died from natural causes.
Just six months earlier, in October 2008, Wakefield's Cook Island international Adam Watene, 31, died after collapsing during training.
Leeds half-back Chris Sanderson died on the pitch in a match in 1977.

Jones was best man at the wedding of Cougar prop Scott Law.

"After last week I wasn't thinking about playing," said Law.

"I just wanted to get away and clear my head. But when Lizzie said she was coming I felt I should play. It is still so fresh.

"Danny was at the centre of everything, in the changing room and when we used to have lads' holidays. It is when we come to do things like that, and he is not there when it will probably hit us the most.

"It is hard."

Sunday's 52-10 win put Keighley top of the table with a 100% record and player-coach March said: "Life is so cruel at times. We are going to feel grief for a long time and events will trigger a reaction in some of them.

"But our goal was always to win this league, even though we know it will be harder without him."

Danny Jones tribute

Fawcett has set an ambitious fund-raising target of £1m, with a succession of events to be held prior to the last game, between a Keighley Select XIII and Wales at Cougar Park on 25 October.

"Those kids are going to go through life not knowing their father," said Fawcett. "They need support.

"I believe we can maintain six months of intensity. The First Minister of Wales has been in contact and I am also wanting help from rugby league, as a sport, and professional football because this is a sports issue and Fabrice Muamba [retired professional footballer] suffered from the same thing."

Coventry Bears' players are understood to have donated their match fee for the game to the fund-raising effort while the entire Keighley team was named man of the match in tribute to their former team-mate.

Danny Jones
Danny Jones made his Wales debut against Italy in 2010 with his last international match coming in 2013
Danny Jones tribute
Some of the money raised will provide future financial stability for Lizzie Jones and her five-month-old twins
Danny Jones tribute
The Cougars tweeted: "A big round of applause for the players today. A very tough time for them but they did us proud"
Danny Jones tribute
The match program was also dedicated to Danny Jones' memory