Nomad Jones finally puts his family and life beyond football before AFC Wimbledon

Looking to the future: Darren Jones is returning to Wales after almost 10 years on the road                  SP82538-08

Looking to the future: Darren Jones is returning to Wales after almost 10 years on the road SP82538-08

First published in Football Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

AFC Wimbledon defender Darren Jones has lived the nomadic life of a footballer for too long, so now he is returning home to Wales.

The 30-year-old is rejoining Newport County after almost 10 years away, which included stints at Aldershot and Shrewsbury Town.

It was from the Shrews that Jones joined the Dons in January this year, going on to play 18 games as Neal Ardley’s men secured another season in League Two.

And it was a time in his 14-year football career that he remembers very fondly, meaning his decision to leave the Cherry Red Records stadium was made purely for geographical reasons.

“I have been dragging my family around England for the best part of 10 years and I don’t see my parents as much as I’d like,” Jones, who was born and bred in Newport, said.

“I turn 31 in August and it is the right time for me to return to Newport. I have started a car sales and mechanics business in Newport, and running that from London would have been impossible.

“Hopefully I’ll have three or four more years in football, but I need to consider my family and my life after the game.”

Jones’ highlight in his brief spell with the Dons came at Burton Albion in March when his last gasp strike sealed a valuable point in the fight to stay in the Football League.

In the end, the Dons survived the drop by three points, and Jones is proud to have been part of a group of players with a common goal.

“Survival was huge for the club and the players, and they are a great bunch of players,” he said.

“But the staff, the management and the fans have all been fantastic to me – they made me so welcome when I first arrived.

“I can honestly say that, for a long time, I have not enjoyed my time at a football club as much as I have at Wimbledon, and that is why it is a hard choice to make, albeit the right one for me and my family.”

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