'I used to play with their fathers' - Huby hits 1,000 games
- Credit: Kate Wolstenholme
'It's not the result, but the taking part that counts' is an oft-heard sporting mantra, but there could be few people who have held to it as much as Stephen Hagon.
The 64-year-old from Oulton near Aylsham has just reached a football milestone few professionals can ever claim.
Known to his football mates as Huby, he took the pitch for Erpingham United Reserves against Hemsby Reserves on Saturday, April 16.
It was his 1,000th game in the North East Norfolk League, which he joined when he was just 17.
He said: "I play football now with people whose fathers I used to play with. I joke and say to them 'are you still playing?'
"You can look at the list of how many hidings I've had but I don't give in, I just keep playing.
"I enjoy the camaraderie, hopefully winning a game, and the post-game hospitality."
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Huby's first game in the league was in 1974 for Marsham Sports, an encounter he still remembers. "We lost, away, to Trunch 6-0. I came in and played on the wings for a few minutes."
He then moved around the league, playing for the teams Aldborough, Corpusty, Erpingham, Aylsham A, Happisburgh, Gimingham and then back to Erpingham.
As a long-time defender he has only 57 career goals under his belt, and 41 of those have been in the North East Norfolk League. "I was a bit of a clumsy centre-half."
And Huby's football record goes even further. He also plays in a Sunday veterans' league for Erpingham, and for the Cromer Crab veterans in the Norfolk and Suffolk Veterans league. Across the leagues the grant total of games he has played is just over 1,700.
"And before the 1974 season I had been playing youth football for Aylsham as well," he added.
And Huby, who still gardens as a means of keeping fit, has no plans to hang up his football boots any time soon.
"Looking back at all the results I've had some good wins, won a lot of trophies. When I was at Erpingham in my first spell I had several years running when I won clubman of the year," he said.
Huby said he was looking forward to taking part in Plunkys All Stars Football Match on May 24 in Peterborough, raising money for Brain Tumour Research.
'Not whether you win or lose...'
On-pitch victories have not always come easy to the retired gardener, who spent 47 years maintaining Blickling Estate's grounds.
He once went 48 games without a win, and Erpingham Reserves has had a winless streak this season of more than 30 games.
Huby said: "Even though we're on the bottom, we always turn up and have three substitutes - we can always field a team."
His other claim to fame is becoming the league's current oldest scorer when he kicked one in for Erpingham in October 2019, when he was 62.
He has also only been sent off once, in a 1999 game against Sheringham Reserves. "But the boys rallied and we won the game 4-2 anyway," he said.
His biggest win was 15-nill in 1977 playing for Aldbourgh against Marsham, but his biggest defeat was even more one-sided. That was in 2017, when Erpingham Reserves lost 25-1 against Cromer Reserves.