ALL-ROUNDER: Robert Jones looks back on a long love affair with Ipswich sport.
ALL-ROUNDER: Robert Jones looks back on a long love affair with Ipswich sport. Sarah Harvey

Versatile star Robert Jones was a man for all seasons

ROBERT Jones' sporting career was robbed of some of its finest years as a teenager.

The little matter of World War II meant he didn't play competitive sport till he was almost 18.

But when he did, he sure made up for lost time.

Born in 1931, Jones grew up in West Ipswich and his first sporting memories are listening to it on the radio.

"There was no sport at school," he said.

"The war was on.

"We had trenches dug for when we heard the sirens.

"They went off once by mistake."

When he finally got to participate, his first competitive sport was for the Woodend Cricket club.

They won the premiership and Jones averaged 81.

He also played table tennis at the Ipswich Showgrounds, hockey, baseball for the Ipswich Musketeers and rugby league for West End.

Jones was a winger for the Bulldogs' reserve grade team that won the premiership in 1949.

He scored four tries in one game, against Goodna, but ended up with a broken leg for his troubles.

"One of them said 'I'll stop you'," Jones recalled.

"I said 'no you won't'.

"And he jumped on my leg and broke it."

It didn't keep him out of action long

He played Church Union Soccer for the Bundamba Salvation Army Tri-Colours as a goalkeeper.

"I didn't let many in ether," he said.

He even had one boxing bout, though he never considered himself a boxer.

"It was a grudge fight at the town hall," Jones said.

"I was coming home from training one night, passing the Palais Royal (Hotel, on the corner of Brisbane and East streets).

"There was a group of fellas there and one said he felt like a fight.

"I said 'but If I beat you, the others will beat me'."

Jones knew a boxing trainer who used to stage fights at the town hall so he planned to start training with him.

But he never got the chance.

"Someone came to my door and said 'your fight's tonight'," Jones said.

"Those gloves feel like lead weights after two rounds.

"I knocked him down a couple of times in the first round, then just held on and won on points."

Jones proved himself an all-rounder the likes of which are rarely seen these days.

But it was cricket at which he most excelled.

"I won the Church Union batting average five times," said the former opening batsman.

Once it was playing for the Central Methodist club, the rest was with the Tri-Colours.

In his final season, he averaged an astonishing 225.

"Near the end of the season someone said 'if you don't get out, you won't get an average'," Jones said. "So in my last two games, I made sure I got out."

He represented Ipswich, once making about 60 and 40 against Brisbane, which included two opening bowlers who represented Queensland.

"Their opener got one and a duck and made the Queensland team," he said.

He also made a 50 for Ipswich against the touring NSW team at Ipswich Boys Grammar's Oval.

With figures like those, the question is why Jones didn't take it any further.

The answer is two-fold.

One - he just played because he enjoyed competing with his mates.

Two - he and his wife had triplets (all boys), a year after the birth of their first son.

"I couldn't go anywhere with triplets," he said.

"I just liked playing sport.

"I kept myself interested.

"I had good mates in everything I played."

These days his sporting experience is whatever is on the TV.

The 25cm vertical scars he bears on each knee are a testament to the punishment he's put them through over the years.

Jones, 82, now keeps fit by mowing the lawn of his quarter acre block and his neighbour's.

"I'd probably die if I didn't," Jones said.

"If you've got bad knees, get them done. I just can't kneel down.

"But I feel great. I would start up again if my knees were alright.

"I reckon I could do half what they're doing now."

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