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Rest in Peace Johnny Hubbard

21 June 2018

Bury Football Club are saddened to hear about the passing of former player Johnny Hubbard, who has passed away at the age of 87.

After emigrating from South Africa, Hubbard joined Rangers in 1949 and went on to win three league titles in a 10-year spell with the Gers.

He left Rangers in 1959 and joined the Shakers where he went on to make 120 appearances and scored 32 goals in three years, before returning to Scotland to finish his career with Ayr United.

Below is a great interview with Johnny conducted by Bury fan James Bentley for the Bury FC programme:

There can't be many players who were born in South Africa, arrived at Bury from one of the biggest clubs in the UK, starred in a championship-winning season and, once their playing career ended, were awarded an honorary MBE. In fact, there's probably only one - Johnny Hubbard.

After plying his trade in his native country with Northern Transvaal until the age of 18, Hubbard moved to Rangers where he spent ten years and even scored a treble in an Old Firm game as well as winning domestic honours. "In my last year I scored 19 goals in 15 games, but I fell out with the manager Scott Symon. I met Dave Russell at Inverclyde, and we got on well, and when he knew I was available he signed me, for between seven and nine thousand I think" he now remembers.

Arriving at Bury in 1959, it was in the 1960-61 season that Johnny really hit his stride, along with his strike partners, as the Shakers stormed to the championship scoring 108 goals in the process. "We were about halfway in the league at Christmas, but from then on we were undefeated. We were a very good all-round team," he says in his distinctive South African twang.

Johnny enjoyed life at Bury. "Training was good because we never knew what to expect. Some days a bus would just turn up and take us to a golf course!" he laughs, "Or sometimes Dave Russell would have us sprinting knowing he wanted us to have done it in a certain number of seconds before resting for a number of seconds. I'd never experienced that before," he admits.

But it was on leaving Bury and subsequently Ayr United that Hubbard really made his mark. "I was at Butlins when I was asked if I'd like to do some work with local kids. So for the next 40 years I was a sports officer for Prestwick town council, and in 1998 I was made an honorary MBE, which was presented to me by the Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire," he says proudly.

This wasn't the first recognition that Johnny got. He received the Technical Award from the SFA in 1986 in recognition of his coaching, and he has also been named an honorary member of the Rangers Supporters' Trust.

Even after he retired, the compulsion to pass on his love of the game remained. "I ran tournaments with teams from all over the place - the Shetlands, Germany - as well as Scotland after I left the council," he says, "And I also played cricket like I did in South Africa. I played against Rhodesia there, and in Scotland, I was captain of Prestwick for seven years," he reveals.

Yet despite everything that followed what was only a short spell, Bury is still an important piece in the jigsaw of Hubbard's career. "I always look for Bury in the results because I'm still very interested in the club. I enjoyed playing there," he concludes.

The thoughts of everyone at Bury Football Club are with Johnny’s family and friends at this sad time.

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