Pundits praise book celebrating 60 years of Herts Ad Sunday League

Brian ‘Bubs’ Hubball with his new book celebrating 60 years of the Herts Ad Sunday League.

Brian ‘Bubs’ Hubball with his new book celebrating 60 years of the Herts Ad Sunday League. - Credit: HASL

Two of the UK’s most renowned soccer pundits are singing the praises of the Herts Advertiser Sunday Football League’s newly-published anniversary book. 

Their verdict: there can be no other book anywhere that can compare to 60 Glorious Years of Sunday League Football, compiled by author and photographer Brian ‘Bubs’ Hubball.

Sky Sports presenter Geoff Shreeves

Sky Sports presenter Geoff Shreeves - Credit: HASL

Sky Sports presenter Geoff Shreeves said: "What an incredible tome this is. A quite brilliant documentation of facts, fun, memories and local social sporting history. To have put this together is an astonishing feat of research, dedication and passion. Bubs take a bow.

"Scanning through I recalled so many familiar faces, teams and names from my period of playing in the league.

"Unsurprisingly the only photo of me at an awards ceremony was when presenting silverware as a guest as I never won any as a player! Anybody who has played in any of the teams from the last six decades will thoroughly enjoy this book."

John Motson from BBC Sports

John Motson from BBC Sports - Credit: HASL

John Motson from BBC Sports added: "The book is obviously a labour of love for Brian and it is outstanding to have kept on producing it, with all the statistics and photographs. I even spotted Dave Underwood in a pic from the early 60s. Dave played in goal for both Watford and Liverpool."

The book re-states the league’s status as the firs- ever UK Sunday football league - which kicked its way into history in 1960 after the Football Association was forced into recognising the national mood for change in local football.

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Players wanted the option to play soccer on Sundays and not necessarily on Saturdays or mid-week, but before this Sunday soccer was banned by the FA.  

Bubs was at the forefront of the revolution. He played in goal, illegally of course, for a Herts Advertiser 11 in a new 12-club Sunday Industrial League, which was comprised mainly of printing companies Gainsboro Press, Staples Press, Campfield Press and Gibbs & Bamfords.

Bubs’ best mate in those early days was Roy Scott, with whom he worked in the printers’ composing room at the Herts Advertiser in Dagnall Street, and it was Roy who was there with Bubs at the beginning of the rebellious friendly matches in 1958/59. Roy was to become league president and chief executive in 1978.  

In 1962 Bubs became registration and results secretary, which involved him in keeping a record of every match, every goal, every league and cup winner, every leading goal scorer and then, from 1982, with a newly-purchased camera, a picture of every team that has since participated in the growth of the league.  

So Bubs has given the league a phenomenal 60 years of service: 20 years as an administrator and then 40 years with his camera.

Over the years thousands of footballers have greeted Bubs and his camera every Sunday morning - at Toulmin Drive, Cunningham Hill, Verulamium Park, Westminster Lodge, Rothamsted Park and all the other local soccer venues, spotting him perched on his camping chair behind one of the goals so as to record the goalmouth highlights. 

His 60th year book follows the tradition of 25 and 50-year anniversary versions which are now both collectors’ items and impossible to purchase.

The book's fascinating stories include fathers and sons playing in the same team, funny incidents, participating referees, club officials, and AGMs with the likes of Geoff Shreeves and John “Motty” Motson in attendance.  

Bubs who is married to Jean and has a son, Ian, and daughter Debbie, is 85 years old and has lived in St Albans until recently when he moved to Flitwick. 

Bubs has even been asked by referees if the ball went over the goal-line or not! A great tribute to his status and reputation.

Roy added: “Bubs is totally irreplaceable. Nobody else will take the myriad of photos or put in thousands of hours producing records or publications. Most players today think what he does is the ‘norm’ everywhere in the UK soccer set-up. They do not realise that Bub’s dedication is so unique it will never be copied anywhere.”

A limited number of copies of the book are still available for £15 from the William Lawrence agency at The Mission Hall, Clifton Street, St Albans AL1 3RY (closed on Fridays).