JOHN Jones, who has died at the age of 81, has long had a place at the forefront of sport in the Fownhope and Woolhope area.

He was a founder member of the Fownhope Football Club and served as first-team manager during a period which saw the villagers established as one of the county’s leading sides.

And he was also a strong supporter of, and regular player with, Woolhope Cricket Club during the summer months.

Jones was one of eight founder members of the Fownhope club and was first-team manager as the club progressed from Sunday football into the Herefordshire League on Saturdays.

He was manager of the side for 24 years, winning the Premier Division title in 1982-3 and again in 1990-1 when the villagers carried off the HFA County Challenge Cup for the only time in their history.

During his period of more than two decades in charge of the villagers, they won around 120 trophies. But, as well as their success, Fownhope were renowned for their good disciplinary record, rarely picking up any cautions.

“That was really down to dad,” recalled son Dave. “He instilled discipline into the side and believed we were there to play football.”

Jones’ playing career had taken in Belmont Rangers, Widemarsh and Holme Lacy. But he still played at Fownhope where he founded something of a family dynasty. “I remember playing in a game with dad for Fownhope with three of my brothers also in the team,” recalled Dave. “He was around 50 when he finished playing.”

John Jones’ long involvement with Woolhope CC began when one of his other sons, Philip, a regular for the villagers, took him along to play for the side.

“Dad loved cricket and was a good batsman who took no risks,” said Dave. “He had a wonderful eye and kept wicket as well. “Philip said that, the following week, dad was asked to go back and play again while Philip, who was a regular, was not!”

Jones’ involvement with Fownhope tailed off when he was succeeded in 1996 by Paul Davies, who had been a key player in Jones’ side for several seasons.

But he maintained a regular contact with the football scene in his later years, following the activities of his sons and, later, his grandsons as they all took part in the sport he loved.

“John epitomised everything that a village football team is about,” said the Herefordshire Football Association’s chief executive Jim Lambert.

“He was a great bloke and you could sum him up in three words - honesty, integrity and commitment. His teams always played football the right way and he worked hard to develop young players.

“He did a lot for the Herefordshire Sunday League, too and if every village had someone like John, there would be a lot more people playing football.”

John Jones leaves a widow, Marjorie, who was Fownhope’s secretary while he was manager, six sons who all played football for Fownhope and 13 grandchildren, as well as two great-granchildren with another on the way.

His funeral will take place at Fownhope at 11am on Monday.