Video and photo gallery: Mr Beccles FC blows final whistle on a labour of love

John Humby (85) has retired from his position at Beccles Town Football club after 47 years. John Humby (85) has retired from his position at Beccles Town Football club after 47 years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
10:55 AM

For some, playing and watching football is just an enjoyable pastime.

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John Humby (85) has retired from his position at Beccles Town Football club after 47 years.
John handing a suffolk cap to one of the Beccels players.John Humby (85) has retired from his position at Beccles Town Football club after 47 years. John handing a suffolk cap to one of the Beccels players.

But for 85-year-old John Humby, it has been a way of life for nearly five decades.

His passion has seen him serve at the centre of grass roots sport as both manager and secretary of Beccles Town Football Club, with some people dubbing him “Mr Beccles FC”.

His retirement, after 47 years, has made such an impact that he has become the subject of a nostalgic film made by freelance cinematographer Steve Curtis about his enduring dedication and time at the helm.

Mr Humby said: “I’ve cut the pitch, pumped up the balls and got the kits ready. That’s the sort of thing you have to do with this level of football.

“I’ve got folders full of photos, match reports, results sheets and newspaper cuttings. People have given me lots of things over the years and it’s good to keep a record.”

The great-grandfather grew up in south-west London and at 17 joined his local youth club, playing football for a number of London teams, as well as enjoying a brief stint in Holland.

He emigrated to Canada, but eventually arrived in Beccles during 1966 to work as a rep for a drinks company.

He said: “I drove through Beccles and thought ‘what a lovely little town; I’d like to live there’. Coming from London, I used to play down at Hackney Marshes where the pitch was uneven and sloped, so I thought Beccles was like Wembley.

“I went down to what was the Railway Hotel near the club and spoke to the landlord and said that if they needed any help I would be available.

“I then had a visit from Jack Constance, the chairman, who asked me if I would be first team manager. I said I’d only just moved here and I didn’t know anyone and he said that was the point, that way there could be no favouritism.”

Mr Humby took the club from the bottom of the Anglian Combination League’s division three to division one runners up during the next two seasons. They have stayed in the division ever since.

He continued to be manager until he took on the role of secretary when a selection committee was formed in 1970. It was a position he held for 35 years, organising the teams, kit, securing sponsors and fundraising.

As part of his charity efforts, Mr Humby has helped raise more than £12,500 for the Friends of Beccles Hospital through holding the annual Beccles Hospital Cup match.

Since his retirement, Mr Humby’s career at the club has been captured in a film by former Beccles Town FC player Mr Curtis.

The video sees Mr Humby reminisce while taking a walk through the changing rooms, talking to friends and standing on the pitch.

Mr Curtis said: “He’s fantastic. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think Beccles Town Football Club would still exist.

“He’s a complete legend.”

Do you have a long-standing voluntary job? Email louisa.lay@archant.co.uk

 

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