TRIBUTES have been paid to “legendary” former Saints defender and snooker coach Ken Jones who has died aged 68.

Jones was signed by Saints from Bradford PA in 1965 with the former electrician playing eight times as Saints won promotion in his first season with the club.

The grandfather who lived in Chandlers Ford passed away on Thursday.

Among those remembering today are leading lights in the world of Hampshire snooker where he forged his second sporting life after retiring because of an injury.

World snooker coach and good friend David Mumford said: “He was a top top bloke, loved and revered and respected by all of us what ever age.

“Snooker will be a poorer place without him.”

More recently he was known as top coach to Hampshire snooker stars such as Nick Jennings and Billy Castle.

Castle, 20, from Marchwood, said: “He was legendary and more than just a coach for me - he was a father figure in snooker.

“Everybody who knew him will have a good word to say for him, he will always be a legend.”

Former fellow Saints defender Bob McCarthy, who played in the same side, also paid tribute to Ken Jones.

Bob, who lives in Southampton, said: “Very sad news. He was a lovely guy and had some good memories of him when we played together at the Dell.”

Ken was born, in Havercroft, near Wakefield in 1944, in a footballing family with his dad a fine schoolboy player and his grandfather Aaron Jones turned out for Barnsley, Notts County and Birmingham in the 1900s.

Jones signed for Bradford Park Avenue in September, 1961, aged 17, but after making 100 appearances with the club he was to leave his beloved Yorkshire and headed south when legendary Saints manager Ted Bates came knocking.

He signed two days before his 21st birthday in 1965 for £15,000, playing eight times as Saints won promotion in his first season with the club.

He went on to play 92 times for Saints with his last game for the club coming against Tottenham on January 31, 1970.

After retiring from football Jones because of injury he continued to live in the area working in Southampton docks first as a checker then as a crane driver.

But his sporting career was not to end with football. He soon fell back on a duel passion of snooker having first picked up a cue aged nine, joining the Southampton & District Social Clubs League.

He went on to lift four Town Championships.