HITCHIN TOWN have lost a lot of people during the pandemic, mostly veteran supporters or officials who epitomised the spirit of the club. Among the saddest pieces of news was the passing of club legend Tony Huckle, who died at the age of 87.
I got to know Tony quite well over 30 years – he was the person who introduced me to Hitchin Town back in 1990. That said, he was suspicious of me in those early days, largely because he saw me as a “City boy” and disliked my refusal to wear a club tie because I was allergic to polyester.
But over the years, Tony and I became very friendly and I not only enjoyed his company but I developed a deep respect for someone whose life had been interesting and certainly colourful. He made me laugh, amused me with his yarns and the “ways of H”. He was a cross between an Ealing Comedy character, a sharp local businessman and a big-hearted, generous drinking pal to anyone who paid their way. He liked people to be “genuine”.
Tony often asked me to write his life story, but he never got round to putting some of his thoughts on paper. About a month or so before he died, he called me, completely out of the blue. It had been a while since we spoke and I didn’t recognise his voice, he was obviously very unwell. He said he had enjoyed my company and that he just rang to see how I was. I put the phone down after he rang off and came to the conclusion he might not be around for much longer. This was his farewell call.
Tony wasn’t only a Hitchin supporter and club president, he was also, like me, a Chelsea fan.
Stories of his ability to consume considerable amounts of beer are many and his antics with the late Alan Sexton have helped boost many a landlord’s pension fund. Tony never truly got over Alan’s untimely death a decade ago and he would often look wistfully at the photo of “Big Al” in the club bar and shake his head.
It was well known that Tony spent some time at Her Majesty’s pleasure in the 1970s. He made no secret of it. One evening, I asked him how he had coped. His response was typically Tony: “Life is what you make it, boy. Funny thing, I actually enjoyed it.” I just laughed and said, “only you could answer that question like that”.
That was Tony Huckle. Life certainly was exactly just what he made it. Hitchin Town Football Club will miss him. The town of Hitchin will miss him. He was genuine.