A Peep Into The Past – Bob Jones

1984-86 Programme Cover

1984-86 Programme Cover

I certainly get some unusual requests from Southport Football Club supporters, Recently a supporter asked me if I could give him the name of the oldest player ever to turn out for Southport. Frank Jefferis, when Southport’s trainer coach, turned out for Southport’s third Division North side two months short of his forty third birthday but this was beaten by Bob Jones when he appeared in an emergency with Southport Reserves against Morecambe on the 4th january, 1947, when he was just five days short of his forty fifth birthday.

Bob Jones first came to Haig Avenue as a tall upstanding spectacular young goalkeeper of 1926. Previously he had been with Everton and had three outings with their First Division side including the ‘Derby’ meeting with Liverpool. There were many Goodison supporters who thought the club had made a mistake in allowing him to go. Time proved them right. Before then he had played with Ferndale as a junior, appearing at left half and soon after leaving school he had been a cabin boy on an Atlantic liner.

His first game with Southport Reserves was on the 28th August, 1926 against Great Harwood, when Southport reserves team was:

Jones, Bolton, Allen, Thompson, Bellis, Meadows, Pilkington, Peacock, Ball, Parker and Fearn.
At Haig Avenue he spent three full seasons in the Lancashire Combination side apart from deputising on odd occasions for the redoubtable ‘Salty’ Halsall. It was at the start of his fourth season that he got his big chance and within six weeks of taking it was transferred to Bolton Wanderers on the 23rd October, 1929 at a fee of £1,000.00. The Wanderers never regretted that expenditure. For eight years Jones gave them brilliant service, although seriously injured more than once. Then he went to Cardiff City and by coincidence was succeeded at Burnden Park by Stan Hanson who started with Southport as an amateur. After two seasons with the Welsh club he came back to Southport just before the outbreak of War as assistant trainer when Jimmy Seddon departed for Anfield. Following the outbreak of War, Jones had a number of appearances until sustaining a broken leg on the 21st November, 1942, after colliding with Done of Liverpool, the famous match which Southport won 3-2.

When Bob Jones broke his leg, it was said he would never play football again, but the unexpected happens in football so when Southport Reserves were in a spot in a home game with Morecambe when George Surtees, a Bevan boy could not get through from the North East, Jones had to emerge from his retirement.

Morecambe came to Haig Avenue on the 4th January, 1947, following a 12 nil win over Great Harwood the previous Saturday who had drawn 3-3 with Southport Reserves on New year’s Day. Morecambe faced a makeshift Southport eleven with Charlie Fazacherley though unfit, turning out at inside right. The home side nevertheless, served up their brightest display of the season and seemed to become more confident when Bob Jones easily dealt with a penalty kick from Ashworth with the game only five minutes old. The veteran keeper was not overworked at any stage during the game and his presence appeared to give the players in front added confidence. Norman Heslop opened the scoring with a neat header receiving the ball direct from a Jack Grainger free kick after 20 minutes. George Oakes scored a second after 33 minutes but Offort reduced the arrears shooting past Jones from point blank range. After 53 minutes Heslop sent a long ball down the middle and Oakes ran on to it and slipped the ball past the keeper. Ashworth, the Morecambe centre forward who scored eight goals the previous Saturday, hit a post before Oakes went up for a high centre from Billy Sinclair which was challenged by Bell. The ball went off the Keepers hands into the net after 68 minutes. Jones then made a brilliant full Length save from Ashworth, ten minutes later. Norman Heslop, Southport’s star performer, worked through cleverly to score a fifth goal.

The teams were as follows:

SOUTHPORT RESERVES – Jones, Shaw, Grainger, Green, Gemmell, Tyrer, Fazackerley, Heslop, Oakes, Rawcliffe, Sinclair.

MORECAMBE – Beli, Mossop, Catterall, Atkins, Ryder, Gorst, Angus, Warburton, Ashworth, Offord, Webb.

Bob Jones continued to turn out for Southport Reserves in an emergency appearing on the 8th January, 1949 against Leyland Motors and making several appearances early in the 1949/50 season when his son Bobby was also introduced into the Reserve team before Southport signed Alex Anderson in November, 1949.

The above article is reproduced verbatim from the Sandgrounder matchday programme in the 1980s.