Tributes to former Bexhill Observer reporter, Tony Tubb

Tony Tubb
Tony Tubb

Tributes have been paid to a former Bexhill Observer journalist who died at the weekend.

Tony Tubb, of South Cliff, passed away on Saturday (October 3). He was 80.

Tony Tubb in earlier days

Tony Tubb in earlier days

Friends and former Observer colleagues said he lived life to the full.

John Dowling, former Bexhill Observer deputy editor and colleague, 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.

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. He was a great and lovable character who will be so sadly missed by so many. He was, quite simply, the best.

Ken McEwan, former colleague and close friend for 55 years

“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. 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.”

Mr Dowling added Mr Tubb originally came from Farnham in Surrey and moved to Bexhill during National Service at the former RAF Wartling radar station, later returning as a professional footballer.

He said: “Tony was the archetypal entrepreneur. He turned his love of classic cars into a one-man business on one occasion driving to a Bexhill football match in a pre-war MG Tickford but walking home after selling it to a Canadian he met on the touch-line.

“Tony loved and was knowledgeable about the natural world. Who else would have taken his Indian Hill mynah bird to the reception after his marriage to Denise? From his cage, Chalky kept calling “Poor old Tony, oh dear oh dear,” later demanding “Speech!”

“Tony adored fly-fishing as much as he did travel. When union of the Bexhill Observer and the Bexhill News brought Tony back to ‘fold’ he returned from a holiday in Alaska with a massive salmon, a trophy so heavy our slightly-built colleague had difficulty holding it aloft for the camera.

“From speculative building, Tony branched out into property management, a venture in which he was later joined by his daughter Anne. Tony not only encouraged his son David in his career as an airline pilot but accompanied David on far-flung holidays.

“Sadly, Tony’s latter years were marred by misfortune. He nursed Denise faithfully throughout her long final illness only to suffer a traumatic break-in at their home followed by a catastrophic lightning strike.

“The friendship Tony extended to a cub reporter in 1961 remained true into mutual retirement. Right to the end, Tony never ceased to amaze me. Who else would venture up the Amazon in frail old age.”

Former colleague and close friend for 55 years, Ken McEwan recalled Tony’s days on and off the football field.

He said: “As a football fanatic teenager in the late 50s I was looking forward to watching Bexhill Town’s final game of the season. They needed to beat Whitehawk to win the Sussex County League championship, then a rarity this side of the county, and a four-figure crowd was there to see the big match.

“I did not regularly follow Bexhill so was not familiar with the players. But I was immediately struck by the skills of a slightly-built figure on the left wing whose outstanding ability was apparent from start to finish.

Bexhill won the game, thanks in no small measure to that little chap on the left who was somehow able to make his twice-as-big marking full-back look silly and whose distribution of the ball was immaculate. That man’s name was Tony Tubb.

“What I didn’t know at the time was that Tony, in a previous game, had broken a bone in his foot and was only playing with the aid of emergency pain-killers.

“I wasn’t the only one who was impressed. A scout from neighbouring Hastings United was present and Tony was signed as a full-time professional by the Southern League Club.

“That he was only kept for one season was due to the nagging foot injury failing to clear up and after a spell with Ashford he returned to the amateur game and playing for Bexhill.”

Mr Tubb formed the Argus Sunday football team in 1966.

Mr McEwan added: “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.

“But 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.”

He said his friendship with Mr Tubb began on his first day at the Bexhill Observer in August 1960.

Mr McEwan said: “I was sent to ‘shadow’ him at a rabbit show and also accompanied him to the Bexhill Open Bowls Tournament. Even at these two events I picked up many useful tips which would stand me in good stead for the future.

“Tony eventually became chief reporter and both of us would share the duties of reporting Wednesday night town council meetings, moving from pub to club as we wrote up our reports (hand-written) until the early hours of Thursday morning in time for that Saturday’s Bexhill Observer.

“Eventually Tony quit as chief reporter of the Observer and after a brief spell with the Worthing Herald, joined the Southampton Evening Echo, later returning to Bexhill to join the Bexhill News.

“Away from work, Tony and I explored Europe, visiting Paris, Copenhagen and Amsterdam and later, with our wives, Tunisia and Egypt.

“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.

“He was a great and lovable character who will be so sadly missed by so many. He was, quite simply, the best.”

Former Observer Group production editor, Philip Elms, turned back the clock to 1964 to recall his earliest encounter with Tony.

He said: “I was the Bexhill Observer’s latest junior recruit and my senior mentor, John Dowling, took me to the Sea Road Argus office to see Tony at work after doing the morning rounds of police, fire and ambulance calls.

“Tony would need to file copy by 10am and by 9.45am his desk would be mile-high in rejected slips of copy paper as he battled to create a succinct form of words. Not only did he get there in the end, but it was an early lesson in the exactitude of deadlines, a lesson that would rule my journalistic career for the next 45 years. My condolences to Anne, David and the wider family.”

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