Lurgan, Co. Armagh born centre half Jack “Soldier” Jones was a remarkably consistent player for Ireland, normally at centre-half and often as captain, playing on 23 occasions between 1930 and 1937. Football was in his blood; his uncles were the Burnison brothers (two Irish internationals, a Junior international and an Inter-League representative), and his younger brother Sam also went on to play for Ireland. He had played junior football for Wellington and Sunnyside, but in March 1925 Jones joined the Army, serving in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, attaining the rank of corporal, and playing at right-half for the Army in France, Germany and Belgium.
Jones was still in the Army, though playing with Linfield, who he joined as an amateur in 1929, when he made his debut for Ireland at centre-half in the famous 7-0 victory over Wales in February 1930. His mind set on taking football seriously, he bought himself out of the Army the following November for £35, joining the RUC. Still unhappy at not being able to take his football as seriously as he wished, Jones left the Police after just six months – his aim, to make football his profession.
The complete defender, Jones possessed the physical strength and solidity to stand in the way of almost any attacking threat, but also natural style and technique to play the ball forward effectively. A supremely successful six years at Windsor Park brought Jones four League titles, three Irish Cup wins, Gold Cup and Co. Antrim Shield successes and twelve Irish League representative appearances, all between 1930 and 1935. He would later describe his time with Linfield thus: “Those were great days at Windsor Park… When playing for Linfield you felt on top of the world… once you put on the blue jersey you felt supreme.”
Jones left Linfield mid-way through the 1935-36 season in acrimonious fashion. He had a disagreement with the club over the question of a benefit match. Jones sought a guaranteed sum, but the club were unable to give it to him, so he asked for a transfer. Interest was shown by both Arsenal and Newcastle, but it was Hibernian he stepped in in December 1935 with the quickest offer, paying a then club and Irish League record of £4,500, with £1,000 going to Jones. Also transferred between the two clubs at the same time was Bill Gowdy, and the two players helped Hibernian pull away from the relegation places. He also captained the team. He returned to Ireland to play for Glenavon in 1937 after 4 goals in 54 appearances for Hibs, before joining Southern League Bath City in 1939.
After finishing his playing days with Bath City, Jones scouted for Linfield in his native Lurgan during the 1940’s, sending Wilbur Cush and Jimmy Jones (his nephew) to Windsor Park. Neither were signed, and both would later play for Glenavon, where Jones was trainer under Jimmy McAlinden, in the successful sides of the 1950s.