Goals, laughs and poignant moments as 'amazing' Danielle is celebrated on 'perfect day'
Hundreds turned out for a festival of football as a club celebrated its goal-den girl who died after a brave battle against breast cancer.
Shifnal Town Ladies honoured their beloved number 3, Danielle Jones, by facing the club's men's team in a friendly clash.
Danielle, aged 29, died surrounded by family at Severn Hospice in Telford on Sunday, August 6, around seven months after being diagnosed.
A fortnight on, her husband Owen and son Harry, two, were among around 350 spectators present to witness a special tribute in her memory.
Players from both sides all ran out wearing "Jones 3" shirts, before a minute's applause was held.
Then, in a poignant moment, little Harry was taken out onto the pitch to join his mum's team-mates for their pre-match huddle, before he took the kick-off, to loud cheers.
Friends and family in the crown shared stories and memories of Danielle. Terri Henderson, an ex-Shifnal player, pointed out Danielle's caring nature, describing her as the "Mary Poppins" of the team... always having what her team-mates needed in her bag. "Tape, shin pads, plasters, you name it. If you needed it, she'd have it for you!"
Chairman Mike Tranter said losing Danielle had been "devastating" for everyone at the club. "The girls were only up at the Severn Hospice with her watching the England women on TV with her just before she died.
"She'd been with the ladies since day one. This day is about remembering her. She was the number 3. That number won't be used again. It's been hung up.
"She was one of the girls. She got involved in everything. She was fun-loving and very positive. You couldn't find a bad word to say about her. You can see how loved she is by all the people here."
Meanwhile, out on the pitch, the crowd were treated to no shortage of entertainment. Captain Maria Bell - Danielle's best pal - caused the men's team all kinds of problems as she bombed down the left flank... so much so that they resorted to bundling her over on numerous occasions. However, she was quickly back on her feet every time to drive the ladies on.
The Town ladies went behind in the game after a matter of seconds, but fought back to lead twice through goals from Katie Mitchell (two) and Lila Hopkins.
Becki Williams made a number of good saves in the ladies' net but couldn't stop the men's team taking a 4-3 lead. However, just before the break, Amelia Higgs popped up with an equaliser to make it 4-4.
Kids and families piled onto the pitch at half-time for a mass penalty shoot out, before a second half with mixed teams was played.
Club secretary Natalie Trevor said around £3,000 was raised on the day. A raffle was taking place later on with prizes including a signed glove from Telford boxing star Liam Davies.
"It's been a perfect day for Dan," she said. "It's been really hard. I saw her the night she died. After it happened we (the team) met up at the ground. We all cried together. We spoke about all the funny things she did and how she would be mad at us for being sad. Talking about her is helping so much.
"It's emotional when we see Harry and you think how he's lost his mum. But through the team he's inherited 18 mums. We're going to make sure we look after him. She would have done absolutely anything for him."
She added: "Dan was the one who whenever someone was pregnant or if they had a birthday, she'd be organising things for them. She would always have anything you need in her bag, and she'd be the first one bopping and dancing in the dressing room when the music was on. That's one of the hardest things. This was our first game together since we lost her.
"I can't put into words how amazing she was." She also thanked the men's team for "having our back" during this painful time.
Before Danielle died, the club rallied to support her and even raised enough cash to send her to Disneyland with her son.
Her husband Owen said: "The club has been amazing. They've picked up the phone every single day. They've been unbelievable. I'd like to thank them.
"The support has been great. Everyone has come together for a wonderful person.
"She put her life into football. That's what she loved doing the most. She made some fantastic friends through football. This just shows how well thought of she was.
"I'll always remember her through Harry."