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Ken Jones: An Appreciation

PUBLISHED

09:18 31st December 2012

Club historian David Bull and co-researcher Mark Fickling remember ex-Saint Ken Jones.

Ken Jones, who has died aged 68, was a full-back for the Saints from 1965-70. 

Like his grand-father Aaron, who had been a goal-scorer for Barnsley and Notts County, Ken played his early football up-front, scoring goals for Monckton Colliery, in the South Yorkshire coalfields, where he served his time as an apprentice-electrician. His team-mates included the Knowles brothers, Cyril – ‘Nice one, Cyril’ of Spurs fame – and Peter, the Wolves forward who gave up football for religion.

For his part, Ken gave up scoring and moved to full-back, where he impressed Bradford Park Avenue's Jimmy Scoular, who signed him up. In the course of Ken’s 100 first-team appearances for Bradford, Scoular declared him to be ‘the best full-back in the Fourth Division’. Ted Bates agreed and brought him to The Dell in the summer of 1965. A reliable defender, Ken was comfortable on either flank. But so was Stuart Williams, which made it difficult for Ken to get a run, after Tommy Hare came into the reckoning and then David Webb arrived.

Notwithstanding, Ken had seven games at right-back in the side that won promotion, in 1966, to the First Division and he remained especially proud to have made his home debut in that season’s record-breaking 9-3 win v Wolves. In 1966-67, however, most of 19 appearances were on the left, starting at Leeds in October. That was an exceptional afternoon for Ken, making his top-flight debut but seven miles from where he’d lived. He had an ‘excellent match’, the Echo reported, as the home side laid siege to the visitors’ goal. But the stars of the show were goalkeeper Dave Maclaren and the Saints’ woodwork – so that although Leeds ‘annihilated’ their opponents and ‘should have won by 10,’ Ken reckoned, he ended up on the winning side, 1-0 from a Ron Davies header. He stayed in Yorkshire for the weekend and, naturally, milked it to the full.  

Over the next two-and-a-half seasons, Ken had to compete on the right with the arrival of Joe Kirkup and the emergence of Bob McCarthy, while occasionally deputising for Denis Hollywood on the left. Even so, he managed to play, during a 10-month span from October 1968 to August 1969, in a ‘hat-trick’ of League wins over Manchester United: the ‘double’ of 1968-69, followed by that memorable 4-1 victory at Old Trafford, when Ron Davies scored all four.

Ken had two nicknames at The Dell.  One was ‘Lucky’, typical of the sardonic way in which the dressing-room referred to the string of injuries that blighted his career.  When Ted Bates failed to inform him of interest from other clubs, Ken took umbrage and so, after 92 appearances for the Saints, rejoined Scoular, by now at Cardiff City.  But injuries and illness restricted him to a handful of appearances and he was released early.

He worked in Southampton Docks, first as a checker then as a crane-driver. ‘I'd no head for heights,’ he admitted, ‘but the money were fantastic’ – spoken like a true Yorkshireman.  He also picked up a few bob at snooker, earning him his other nickname of ‘The Hustler’. Ken was four times the Southampton & District champion and three times doubles champion. He coached youngsters on the full-size table in the Chandlers Ford home that he shared with his wife, Jean, and was immensely proud that no fewer than five of his protégés had achieved full England honours.

ken jones portrait

KENNETH JONES
26 June 1944 – 27 December 2012

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