Clifford “Cliff” Hubbard was a teenage striker with a strong reputation when he signed for Hull City in May 1933, having scored 26 goals in the Midland League for Scunthorpe United in the 1932/33 season. Born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Cliff had begun his career playing for Manton Colliery works side from whom Scunthorpe United signed him as an 18 year old in 1931. Hubbard was a versatile right sided forward who in his first few months at Anlaby Road was used as inside right, outside right and occasional centre forward. He opened his goalscoring account for City in a November 1933 1-2 defeat at West Ham United but his goals return was poor in a team that was struggling under the management of Hayden Green. From January 1934 onwards he settled into the outside right position, scoring an FA Cup tie winner against Brentford and further goals against Bolton and Port Vale, keeping his position when Jack Hill was promoted to the manager’s office in April 1934.
New signing Duncan Hutchison took the outside right berth at the start of the 1934/35 season and Hubbard spent the first five months of the season occasionally filling across the forward line for absent colleagues. He was restored for a run of ten starts between Boxing Day 1934 and the end of February 1935, contributing goals against Nottingham Forest and Fulham, as Hill’s inconsistent Tigers saw a revival in form to move away from the relegation places. However Hubbard saw out the last two months of the season again playing support to the regular front five. Hubbard started the 1935/36 season at outside right but was dropped after four starts and didn’t return until December 1935, by which time City were languishing at the foot of the Division Two table. Cliff was reintroduced at outside right and rewarded that decision with a goal in a rare win against Swansea Town, but within a month Hill had resigned his post and after a month of searching the Directors turned to former boss David Menzies. Hubbard was a regular under Menzies but City’s form was still poor and the club was relegated to Division Three North in May 1936.
Dropping into the lower division, the Tigers’ form improved and Hubbard scored four goals in five matches in Septmebr and October against York City, Lincoln City, New Brighton and Gateshead. When Menzies unexpected died in service in October 1936 the whole club was shocked and Cliff’s form faded in the two months it took the Directors to find replacement manager Ernest Blackburn. When Blackburn took over in early January 1937 Hubbard was restored to the City first team and was re-energised, scoring six goals in six starts including a brace against New Brighton. The goals continued to flow and culminated in a brace against Darlington on the final day of the season, Cliff had finally established himself as the potent goalscorer that City had signed four years previously.
The 1937/38 season began with Hubbard out of the first team but when he was restored in late October 1937 he again found his scoring form from the outside right position, notably contributing two of the ten goals rattled past Southport in January 1938. In the 1938/39 season Cliff alternated between outside and inside right and had his finest season for Hull City in front of goal, scoring 21 goals including braces against Bradford City and Lincoln City in September 1938, Rotherham United in November 1938, New Brighton on Boxing Day, Bradford City on New Year’s Eve and Carlisle United in January 1939 (an 11-1 win for the Tigers). His final City goal came in April 1939, the winner in a 2-1 victory over Crewe Alexandra. His form had alerted other clubs and in the opening days of May 1939, in a time before transfer window deadlines, Cliff was sold to Second Division side West Ham United for a £1,000 fee.
Hubbard started and scored in the Hammers’ last game of the 1938/39 season – but despite being in his prime at 26 years of age, this was to be Cliff’s last senior appearance of his career. The outbreak of World War Two led to the Football League being suspended – his three starts at the beginning of the 1939/40 season were expunged – and he returned to Worksop to live with his parents and await his call-up for military duties. During the war Hubbard was able to assist several clubs including Barnsley, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town and his parent club West Ham United. He also made six wartime league appearances for Hull City between September 1944 and January 1945.
During the later months of 1945 Cliff began playing for ambitious Newark-based Midland League club Ransome and Marles. In the 1946/47 season he struck 28 goals for Ransomes before moving to rival Grantham FC. In January 1950 he briefly joined his home town club Worksop Town, but his playing days soon drew to a close. By the end of the 1950s he was coaching the second XI at Worksop Town, a role he retained until his untimely death in November 1962.
Date/Place of Birth: 16 December 1912, Worksop
Hull City First Game: 2 September 1933, Swansea Town A (Division Two), 20 years, 260 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 April 1939, Oldham Athletic A (Division Three North), 26 years, 134 days old
Manton Colliery (1930-1931), Scunthorpe United (1931-1933), Hull City (1933-1939), West Ham United (1939), Ransome and Marles (1945-1947), Grantham (1947-1950), Worksop Town (1950)
Hull City Record
Career: 197 apps, 62 goalsCliff Hubbard