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Former chief reporter and ‘outstanding’ footballer dies aged 80

Tony Tubb

A former chief reporter at a weekly newspaper who spent time as a professional footballer has died at the age of 80.

Tony Tubb, pictured left, worked as chief reporter at the Bexhill Observer during his career which also saw him work at The Argus in Brighton, the Worthing Herald, the Southern Daily Echo and the Bexhill News.

He was also a talented footballer with “outstanding ability” who was signed for Hastings United as a full-time professional after impressing a talent scout while playing for Bexhill Town.

Tributes were paid to him by his former colleagues in an obituary in the Observer folllowing his death on Saturday.

Former Bexhill Observer deputy editor John Dowling said: “Journalism tends to attract ‘characters’ to its ranks and among these locally Tony Tubb must rank supreme.

“Tony was chief reporter when I joined the Bexhill Observer as a green-horn school-leaver. If his natural kindness and innate good nature helped ease my way into that tough early 60s world of typewriters, copy-paper and hot-metal newspaper production his methods were, to say the least bizarre.

“Tony existed in a whirl of last-minute confusion. I remember him dashing into my parents’ home to borrow a set of cuff-links for a black-tie dinner assignment for which, at best, he would have arrived after the first course had been served.

“When he later worked locally for what was then the Brighton Evening Argus, Tony brought untidy newspaper office working practice to the town hall council chamber.

Added John: “Tony would hand-write news copy at speed to dictate later by phone – discarding effort after effort with equilibrity till the floor around the press desk in the centre of the chamber was knee-deep in balls of screwed-up paper.

“But the following day’s story was usually a master-class in conveying not only the facts but the atmosphere and relevance of debate.”

Tony hailed from Farnham in Surrey and moved to Bexhill during National Service at the former RAF Wartling radar station, later returning to Bexhill to join the football team.

He was signed as a professional football player for Hastings United in the late 1950s but only lasted one season because of a foot injury and after a spell with Ashford Football Club, he returned to Bexhill as an amateur player before forming the Argus Sunday football team while working at the Brighton title in 1966.

Former colleague and close friend Ken McEwan said: “I was privileged to be the beneficiary of those immense soccer skills for more than a decade. Tony would provide the passes and crosses and I would score the goals. He made it easy for me.

“It was a period of awful behaviour on the professional scene with many games in the top divisions being spoilt by players getting sent off and unruly spectators being evicted from grounds. The Argus team, however, set their big brothers the perfect example going an entire season without one player even being cautioned, a feat recognised by the team picture, submitted by Tony, being featured on BBC’s Match of the Day.”

Ken said his friendship with Tony began on his first day at the Bexhill Observer in 1960.

He added: “To say he has been a good friend would be an understatement. A kinder and more generous man you could never wish to meet.

“A combination of chaos and kindness, he was a gifted footballer and brilliant feature writer. Even at a party he would sit down at a piano and play the song of your choice purely by ear.

“For all the right reasons Tony was one of that rare breed who, once met would never be forgotten. His sense of fun and adventure was always apparent and I feel privileged to have been his close friend.”

Tony, who leaves his children Anne and David, later worked in property management and was joined in the business by his daughter.

His latter years were marred by misfortune, having nursed his wife Denise though her final illness then suffering a break-in at their home, followed by a lightning strike there.