For Dave Jones tomorrow will be the highlight of his career, but as he leads his team out at Wembley before the FA Cup final against Portsmouth his thoughts will not be far away from his father and the accusations of child abuse that the Cardiff City manager believes killed him.
Jones stepped down as Southampton manager in January 2000 when he was arrested by police investigating allegations of abuse from his time as a social worker in the north-west in the late 1980s. The case rapidly collapsed when it went to court in December 2000 but Jones is still marked by the effect it had on his family.
"I blame the people and the police who were involved in it for the death of my dad because he was taken ill virtually straight away and he wasn't an ill man before," he told Sky News. "So, this is for my Dad, as well, and all my family. As a child I went to FA Cup finals with my Dad so it's something for him."
"My Dad took me everywhere, as a young boy, me and my two brothers he took us everywhere. He was part of our life – they took us every game, home and away. All weathers, in different, open parks. When I made the Everton first team they went to every home and away game with my mum and my wife."
Asked whether he has forgiven those involved in bringing the case to Liverpool Crown Court eight years ago, Jones said: "Well towards the people who tried to extort money out of me, I'm not very happy, to be fair. Towards the police, who investigated it, I wasn't happy with. I'm not tarring all the police force, I'm tarring that particular department."
Jones had to wait almost 18 months from when the allegations first surfaced to having his name cleared but was always convinced he would be found innocent. "I believed that eventually justice would come forward so that's what I believed in," he said. "I couldn't do anything about it until I got to court. The solicitors and the people who worked for me were fantastic, they were very supportive. The people of Southampton were very supportive, my family, my friends, people in football.
"Football, as I've said many times before, is my sanity. I don't know if there's many people who can say that, I live and breathe it. It's something I enjoy doing, I get paid for something I enjoy doing – I wanted to keep that, and that's what drove me on, you know, plus to prove I hadn't done these things people were saying and everything else."Reuse content