ARTHUR Brady has recalled his former team-mate Jimmy Jones as not just a great goalscorer, but a great joker too.
The pair played together at Belfast Celtic for only a short time, but Brady remembers many occasions later in his career when the friends became rivals – if only for 90 minutes.
And that's when Jones the gentleman came out.
"I have great memories of playing with Jimmy, but also of playing against him," said Brady.
"We'd have slagged each other, but it was never rough and he had a great sense of humour.
"We would have been invited to a few dinners down the years and even then he was carrying on, making jokes and telling stories. He was a great character."
Jones' qualities as a finisher brought him 646 goals during his career – an Irish League record that is sure to stand for years to come.
Brady added: "He was the strongest player I ever came across. As a centre forward, when he was running with the ball he would run through defenders, knocking two or three of them out of the way and he was a great striker of a ball too.
"He was a gentleman also. If he ever knocked me down he would have come back to me and said 'did I hit you there wee man? I'm sorry if I did, I didn't mean it.'
"He was great to play with because as a winger I knew that he could make use of whatever ball I gave him."
Jones' wit may have been just as sharp as his goalscoring instincts, but Brady isn't far behind when it comes to humour.
"I was asked to speak about Jimmy at a dinner and I said that of the 646 goals he scored I think I gave him a hand with about four of them," said Brady.
"Maybe if we'd played together for a while longer he might have scored 647."
Newry-based former Glenavon stalwart, Con Davey, son of one of the original Ireland internationals, Hugh Davey, remained in touch with his hero long after both their playing and management days ended. Con recalled: "Jimmy signed me for Glenavon in 1972. He came to watch me in a student teachers' match and couldn't believe it was him on the touchline. I was in awe of him, having watched him at the peak of his scoring powers with Glenavon.
"He was a massive influence on me, both as a player and as a man."
e JIMMY Jones' funeral will take place at Waringstown Church of Ireland on Saturday morning at 11am.
The funeral service will be followed by burial at Lurgan Cemetery.