In 1958 a bunch of parents from the Anlaby and Willerby areas west of Hull had the notion that perhaps there wasn’t enough football around for the kids to play in on a Sunday. Lads and the few lasses that played in those days could watch their footballing heroes on a Saturday from the terraces but couldn’t act out their dreams in a real game.
Terry Nicholson, Secretary of the Hull Sunday Football League was approached to start the Boy’s League and the inaugural meeting took place in Mr Nicholson’s front room in Margret Street in Hull. The kids, whose parents met Mr Nicholson were already playing friendlies against each other and he helped them form a committee, draw up some rules and got a structure of fixtures together.
The league became a properly run organisation under the supervision of the Hull Sunday Football League and its first Secretary was a Mr Len Smith. The Boys League still has a representative on the Hull Sunday League which strengthens the historic ties and long may that relationship continue.
Over the years, some famous names have ‘made it’ through the ranks of the Boys League system and you might recognise one or two! Dean Windass, the man who put Hull City into the Premiership with his lone goal in the play off final in 2008 who plays for Hull City has also graced the park at Sheffield Wednesday and United, Bradford City, Middlesborough, Aberdeen and Oxford United.
His compatriot at the Tigers Nicky Barmby has also been through the HBSFL and his son Jack is playing for Westella & Willerby.
Nicky has played not only for his country, the highest accolade for a professional footballer, but for clubs such as Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, Everton, Middlesborough, Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The other England player to come through the Boys League is Blackburn's Paul Robinson who has also played for Leeds United and Tottenham. You might recall some other names such as Stuart Pearson who went on to play for Manchester United, David Prutton who is at Leeds United, Hull City’s Adam Lowthorpe, Kevin Lewis, Scunthorpe United’s Darren Stamp, Scott Goodwin, Adam and his brother Chris Bolder, Jamie Barnwell and Sam Sharman.
There are many more who have done the HBSFL proud by going on to greater things and there’s not enough space to mention them all. Not only has the league provided superb footballers, but referees as well with Richard West who is now a FIFA assistant referee, Carl Boyeson, a Premiership assistant referee and both Wayne and Derek Grunill.
Sadly, many who were instrumental both on the field and behind the scenes in building the HBSFL are not around anymore but would be watching from somewhere to see us move forward and onward.
Time has moved on and brought the Boys League into the 21st Century with technology to assist in the running of the league, however you can have all the technology in the world but without the volunteers to run the league, it doesn’t mean a great deal. The dedication of hundreds of volunteers who have run teams, managers, coaches, first aiders, mums and dads and those who took the time to run the league itself have all been responsible for making the HBSFL what it is today: a vibrant league with over 5,000 kids. This is the care and devotion, given freely that has made the HBSFL part of local sporting history.