TO UNDERSTAND the late Dean Jones’ love for the Carlton Football Club is to wind back the clock, to the days of Ron Barassi and that sacred place called Princes Park.

Just as Stephen Silvagni would later follow his father Sergio into the place, so it was with ‘Deano’ and his Dad - for Brian ‘Barney’ Jones was a stalwart of the cricket club when both entities begrudgingly shared the same turf through the summer and winter seasons.

The depth and breadth of Dean’s love for his beloved Blues should be considered in the context of his father’s Carlton connection.

Schooled at Brunswick Tech and recruited to Carlton from up the road in Merlynston, Barney Jones first plied his craft with the oval ball in the Under 19s through 1951 when Dick Pratt was going around, ’52 (a best and fairest year) and ’53 – during which time he also earned promotion to the twos.

As a centreman who could also tie down centre half-forward, Barney later gave long and loyal service to VFA outfit Coburg, earning state honours in the ’56 carnival at Subiaco Oval in Perth.

By then he’d already forged links with the Carlton Cricket Club  - an 18-season association that ended with his retirement as Captain-Coach in 1971 - the same year ‘Barass’ relinquished duties as Senior Coach of the football club.

In a wonderful interview with Mark Howard for The Howie Games podcast four years ago, Dean recalled the many and varied confrontations involving Barassi and his equally headstrong Dad, who died at the age of 65 some 20 years ago. 

“I have memories of Ron Barassi, who was captain-coach of Carlton at the time, fighting with my father head-to-head – almost fisticuffs – as Dad wouldn’t let the footballers on the ground because it was the Carlton Cricket Club’s time – and the cricket club owned the alcohol licence at the ground, so they had a fair bit of control,” he said.

Not that the bluff and bluster adversely impacted on the wide-eyed kid in wonderland.

“As a boy I just remember always being taken to the rooms and absolutely decimating the kits . . . the boys would walk in off the ground in 100-degree heat and their shoes and rubbish would be all over the Carlton dressing rooms! Oh did I get some foots in the bum along the way let me tell you,” Dean said.

“The Carlton footballers would also come and watch the Carlton cricketers because there was this wonderful affinity and closeness between the two clubs which doesn’t happen now.

“I remember that the Carlton footballers would always come to our house because they liked my old man – blokes like Adrian Gallagher, ‘Percy’ Jones and Brent Crosswell - and I was nine or ten getting all their autographs.

“Dad and I would go and watch them during the winter at Princes Park. I would see my Dad getting smashed up in the old Harris Stand and I’d be kicking goals with cans thinking I was Alex Jesaulenko . . . it was a great time to be a kid. It was all sport. I loved my footy more than my cricket, but I just happened to be better at cricket as I got a bit bigger and older.”

Dean Jones and Col Kinnear following the 1995 Grand Final.

Col Kinnear, a Life Member of both the Carlton Cricket and Football Clubs who turned out in his creams with both Barney and Dean, had known the latter “since he first fronted up in his shorts”.

“Barney, Dean and Dean’s brothers Mark and Paul all played cricket at Carlton. They were part of a great Carlton family,” Kinnear said.

“Barney, who was a member of the Carlton Football and Cricket Social Club committee for years, was part of three cricket premierships. If he was playing today he’d be playing Twenty20 at the highest level. He had a tremendous presence and a real vitality,” Kinnear said.

“Dean, who was also a member of a Premiership team, was always going to make it because he was a talent. He struggled a bit early on, but ‘Stacky’ (Carlton Cricket Club Captain-Coach Keith Stackpole) and John Scholes took him under their wing. Just like his father, Dean was also forthright . . . and he should never have left the cricket club.”

To the end, Dean’s childhood empathy for the football club endured. When circumstance allowed he fronted up to see his beloved Blues – from Nicholls and Jesaulenko, through Buckley and Johnston and beyond Kernahan and Bradley (with whom Jones swung the willow for rival club Melbourne).

David Rhys-Jones, the Carlton Premiership player and Norm Smith Medallist of ’87, remembered sharing Dean’s company through those halcyon days.

“‘Deano’ used to turn up to games with the golfer Ian Stanley. They were good mates,” Rhys-Jones said.

“The players would always catch up with them for a beer afterwards, they were always great company and now they’re both gone.

“‘Deano’ was always full of energy, loved having a chat and really loved Carlton. He had a bit of brashness about him, he didn’t lack confidence and people who didn’t know him probably saw that as a negative. But that’s what made him. He was an entertainer.”

Col Kinnear with Dean Jones and Mark Taylor at Carlton's Grand Final Eve Luncheon in the early 1990s.

To the end, Jones hankered for the next Carlton Premiership, having savoured the glories of Grand Finals hard won and dear from as far back as ’68.

A case in point was the Monday after the ’95 Grand Final when he was conspicuous by his presence amongst the revellers at the famous Royal Parade watering hole Naughtons.

This was of no real surprise to Kinnear who said of the man: “Dean’s great passions in life were cricket and the Carlton Football Club. He was a great Carlton person, he loved Carlton and it’s so very sad he’s gone.”