John holds the designation of holding two remarkable firsts for Tottenham Hotspur. He won the clubs first full international cap.
Then he was first man to captain the team in a FA Cup winning year.
To add to the clubs first major honour, the Southern League title the year before.
John Leonard Jones was born near Rhyl in 1866 in North Wales and he started his career with local clubs before joining the Football League with Grimsby in 1893 and then moving to Sheffield United the following year. In March 1895 he made his Welsh debut against Ireland, a 2-2 draw in Belfast and would quickly become his countries first choice left half.
He surprised many when in May 1897 when he, at the age of 31, chose to sign for Spurs, then about to launch their first season in the Southern League. At that point he had won nine international caps and was widely regarded. The directors made him captain, they wouldn’t appoint the sides first manager until the following March. His early games were at center half, although he could also play at inside forward. It wasn’t until he reverted to left half he gave his best performances for the club.
Not the fastest man on the pitch he is described as short and heavy but making up for this with excellent positional sense, as well as being an excellent passer of the ball. His debut for Spurs came at Sheppy United, our first game in the Southern League, on 5th September 1897, having played in a friendly two days before. He missed just three games that season, each time as he was on international duty.
On 19th February 1898 John, or Jack as he was usually known, won the first full international cap for Tottenham, when he played at Llandudno, again in a game with Ireland.
That move to the left side allowed him to play behind Jack Kirwan and David Copeland and these three are widely credited with much of the success that came to the club in the next couple of years.
John would lead the side to the Southern League title in 1900 and then in the 1900/01 side he missed the first game in the FA cup campaign but returned to the team and remained there for the rest of the trophy winning season. Despite the player/manager John Cameron playing in the side John retained the on field captaincy and thus became the first Spurs player to lift the FA Cup when we won the trophy in 1901 as Tottenham beat his old club, Sheffield United in the replayed final.
John won his last international cap (again V Ireland) in March 1904, nine years after his first appearance. He moved to Watford that summer, then aged 38.
When he wasn’t playing he would coach football and cricket at the famous Rugby school. He had been a professional cricketer during the summer during his early professional days. He is also the author of this training manual on football.
He was involved in an indoor football exhibition in 1905 using a synthetic pitch at Olympia in London which was a financial disaster.
He later coached cricket in South Africa before returning to England where he was a groundsman in Durham before changing to be a pattern maker. He died following a fall at work in 1931, aged 62.
John played a total of 132 Southern League games (7 goals), 31 with one goal in the FA Cup and in another 103 games in various competitions (5 goals). John won 21 international caps, 12 whilst he was with Spurs.
John L Jones the holder of those two amazing firsts for the club has yet to be inducted into the clubs Hall of Fame.
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