Vale – Les Jones
Vale Les Jones
Born 26 May 1933
Passed Away 14 December 2015
Les Jones was one of the best ever sportsmen from the NSW South Coast. Not only was he a top class Rugby League centre, but he was also an excellent cricketer and a champion Lawn Bowler.
Born at Jamberoo near Kiama, Les was a fixture in junior representative South Coast Rugby League and Cricket teams and he did the same at senior level. On 1 July 1951 at Wollongong Showground, he was the South Coast under 19s best player in their narrow 5-3 loss to Illawarra. After that match, he was one of the first players selected for the Group 7 side to take on Group 6. Six months before that, playing for South Coast Colts against Illawarra Colts on 26 December 1950, he scored 50 from his team’s total of 117 and then took seven Illawarra wickets for 46.
Although only 17, Les played a handful of first grade games for Jamberoo in the 1950 season, while he also starred for the club’s junior team, which lost a tight Grand Final 5-3 to Kiama. The next year, under captain/coach Leo Doyle, Les became a permanent first grader and scored a classy try in Jameroo’s Grand Final 15-5 win over Kiama at Berry Showground on 25 August 1951. Two weeks later, again at Berry, Les was a try scorer in the 27-18 win over Illawarra Premiers, Wollongong, in a challenge match to decide the best team on the South Coast.
Equally at home anywhere in the back line, Les stayed with Jamberoo until the end of the 1954 season when he moved to Delegate, near the Victorian border, inland from Bombala on the Far South Coast. Delegate only had a reserve grade side and played in the then group 19 competition. As captain/coach of the Delegate Tigers, Les took them to a Premiership win. The next year he joined Wollongong in Illawarra football for four seasons. Les had a standout season with Wollongong in his first year and was selected for Southern Division to take on the touring New Zealanders on 1 July, followed by the Maori on 24 August. Both games were at the Wollongong Showground. Southern defeated the Kiwis 25-10 but lost narrowly to the Maori by 17-16.
Back home as captain/coach of Jamberoo in 1961, Les won another Premiership when they beat Kiama 7-2 in the Grand Final at Kiama Showground.
While the 1961 Grand Final was Les’ last game as a Rugby League player, he continued to play first grade cricket for some years with the Kiama club. He was a Life Member of Kiama and won six South Coast first grade cricket Premierships with the club. In 144 first grade matches with Kiama, he scored 3,617 runs at an average of 24.4, including three centuries and 17 fifties. As a bowler he collected 153 wickets at 14.3 each, plus he took 81 catches.
In 1996, Les and his brother Trevor, as members of the Kiama Lawn Bowls Club, won the South Pacific Doubles title.
Les was 82 when he passed away. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Helen and their children Craig, Dale and Mark, plus their families.