There's a reason they call Jones 'Scoop'
Steve Buffery, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones is honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 14, 2011. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - One of the great rewards of travelling the world as the Sun’s Olympic Sports beat writer in years past was knowing that, at the end of the line, I’d be meeting up with my good friend, Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun, this year’s recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Award.
The wonderful thing about Jonesy is, he’s the master of mixing work with pleasure. He works hard — and has an uncanny (legendary really) knack of getting the scoop — but he’s also the king of apres-scribbling. On the road, whether it’s Europe, Australia, Japan, wherever, Jonesy always finds the best spot to hang out, with the best tunes and a bartender who’s willing to keep the place open half the night so we sports scribes could perpetuate the myth that we’re a bunch of hapless boozehounds.
To me, the thing that sets Jonesy apart from many of the other big-shot sports columnists I’ve worked with is his enthusiasm. He loves covering a Pan Am Games table tennis match as much as Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. And in either case, he’ll come up with a great angle.
Jonesy, or Large as he’s also known, has been accused of being lucky because, over the years, some unbelievable stories have fallen on to his lap. But you have to be good to be lucky and Jonesy is both.
The best-known example of that was when he was in the midst of covering Wayne Gretzky’s record points streak and by chance bumped into Joe DiMaggio, he of the 56-game hit streak, on an airplane and convinced Joltin’ Joe to give him an interview. Another great scoop.
When we were in Sydney covering the 2000 Olympics, Jonesy announced that he wanted to cover the men’s triathlon the next morning.
Being the Olympics guy, I told him not to bother, the Canadian team sucked. But Jonesy went anyway and, of course, not only did Simon Whitfield of Kingston, Ont., win the gold medal, Jonesy was the only Canadian writer there.
There was never a dull moment with Jonesy on the road. Once, we were in Japan at the 1998 Winter Olympics, wandering some side street on the outskirts of Nagano, searching for a pizza joint. Lost, Jonesy marched into a Kentucky Fried Chicken where these two little Japanese girls were working behind the counter. Slowly and loudly, Jonesy asked the girls where such-and-such Pizza was. Of course, neither spoke English but even if they did, they wouldn’t have been able to answer. They were in shock that this huge foreigner suddenly materialized in their store babbling away in a language they didn’t understand.
One girl held her hands to her mouth trying to control her hyperventilating while the other giggled uncontrollably. It was right out of a Godzilla movie. The only difference was, there were no heat rays firing out of Jonesy’s eyes. Finally, I said, “Okay Grogan. I don’t think they get it.”
One of the great Jonesy stories was when he and Cam Cole, then of the Edmonton Journal, were in London during a stopover en route to Munich for the 1991 world figure skating championships. After a night of imbibing, Jonesy asked the bartender if he knew of a place that was open into the wee hours. The barkeep recommended a joint that was once the training gym of Commonwealth boxing champion Henry Cooper.
“Just ask the cabbie to take you to Henry Cooper’s on Old Kent Road,” the bartender said.
Alas, after crawling into a taxi, the cabbie asked Jonesy for an actual address and Jonesy returned to the pub for a number. On his way back to the cab, Jonesy looked left for any traffic coming down the street when he should have, of course, looked right, being that they were in England. He then stepped in front of a on-coming lorry, which struck Jonesy with a glancing blow, sending His Largeness, all 400 or so pounds of him, as Cole put it, “cart wheeling down the street for 15 or 20 feet.” Cam and the cabbie jumped out of the taxi to see if Jonesy was still alive. Jonesy, who somehow landed on his feet, picked up his glasses, brushed himself off, hobbled to the taxi, slid inside and said: “427 Old Kent Rd.” And off they were to Henry Cooper’s bar.
For Jonesy, nothing gets in the way of a scoop, or a good time.