More than 350 mourners at the funeral of Irish League football legend Jimmy Jones on Saturday heard how his love of football started in his childhood.
During the service mourners at Holy Trinity Parish Church in Waringstown wore football memorabilia marking out Mr Jones’ dazzling career. He was buried in Lurgan Cemetery.
Rev Bryan Martin told how the 85-year-old, one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the local game, “began playing football while still at school with Lurgan Tech and the Boys Brigade, followed by spells with the Lurgan Intermediate club Sunnyside and Glenavon Juniors”.
Rev Martin said, soon after, he was headhunted by Belfast Celtic “in the middle of the 1946-47 season”.
Jones played for Belfast Celtic in a game on Boxing Day, 1948, against Linfield at Windsor Park.
At the end of a stormy, tension-filled game players from both teams got caught up in rioting, and Jones suffered a broken leg.
After thathe returned initially to play for Glenavon.
Rev Martin told mourners that whilst “never a full-time professional” he has gone down in history as being “leading goal scorer in Irish League history with 74 goals in the 56/57 season”.
“He won three international caps for Northern Ireland, twice against Wales and then against England, and after Glenavon he played for Portadown, Newry Town and Bangor,” he added.
Mr Jones was inducted into the Northern Ireland Football Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2011, and in 2013 Glenavon Football Club named the sponsor’s hospitality room The Jimmy Jones Suite,
Rev Martin said: “Jimmy was a witty man, with a sharp and quick humour … he loved a joke but didn’t suffer silliness”. He said he adored being with his family.
“But age would take its toll and for the last 10 years, Jimmy suffered with dementia,” added Rev Smith.
“I have known Jimmy as a civil and charming man, who has been looked after dutifully by his wife Cecily and his children Trevor and Jennifer,” added Rev Martin.