Player profiles: Gary Jones

Cod Almighty | Article

by Mark Stilton

31 July 2006

Despite a prolific season in which he netted 17 goals, there were still those who chose to boo Jones during our semi-final play-off matches with Lincoln. Yes – quite unbelievable, isn't it? I think there are still people who see someone of Jones' stature lumbering around the pitch and automatically think "slow and shit". More fool them. It wouldn't be unfair to describe the Lump as slow, but he is far from shit. As was mentioned many times last season, what he lacks in pace he makes up for in vision. If you can't run fast yet you still manage 17 goals, then there's obviously something else you're doing right. And the transformation from "Jones the Lump" to "Lumpaldinho" isn't an ironic piss-take, more a genuine affection for a quality footballer by those who admire his talents.

Perhaps one trait that doesn't help endear Jones to fans is his momentum: a problem he seems to have had throughout his career. Fans of his former clubs talk about his slow starts to the season, but with strong finishes – and it could be that some people are quick to jump on his back if he doesn't start banging in goals immediately. It certainly seemed that way last season, although the seven goals he scored before January are still better than we've been used to in recent history.

To get the measure of Jones you need to watch him closely and watch what he offers the team. For someone lacking in pace, he covers a lot of the pitch – tracking back and helping out in defence, providing the link between midfield and attack, and popping up in attack to score a few goals. He's strong in the air, and can make a deft headed pass – even if some of his team mates don't always have the awareness to match it. He's strong on the ball, holding off defenders before making a nice simple pass, or a cheeky through ball behind the defence. Jones has many abilities as a forward, but some people don't see them as they're too busy whinging because he doesn't run really fast. You wonder if they apply the same principles to their sex life – do it quickly, because if you're not really fast then obviously you're shit. To them I say: watch. Learn. Admire.

Jones missed pre-season last summer and it took him a while to regain his fitness – another reason why some jumped on his back, perhaps. With a better pre-season this year and some good service, we could have the 20-goals-a-season striker that many fans seem to crave. And what's more, they'll be surprised that it's Jones. I won't.