This is Hull: Exton’s Beautiful Game

This is Hull
Why Exton Enjoys the Beautiful Game
13 January 2005
Courtesy of Gina Dipper

What makes a man stay 44 years with one club?

Ask Tony Exton why he has spent that length of time with local amateur football team Sculcoates Amateurs and he has to think deeply.

Peter Howson's The Glorious Game

“It just happened,” he smiles. “I played for Scullys for 10 years – although not very well – and then the secretary Albert Emson died.

“So I was given the job – and 34 years on I’m still here.

“It’s a job you either love doing – or you just don’t do it,” says the 65-year-old retired sales representative from north Hull.

“It’s now a major part of my life, I’ve loved nearly every minute of it and I’ll stay here until they kick me out.

“Winning trophies has always been my major plus – and we’ve won our fair share.”

Scullys won the County League championship five seasons in a row from 1991 to 1996, along with the League Cup, the HE Dean Cup and the East Riding Senior Cup two seasons running.

They’ve also won the Humber Cup and the Dave Whitton champion of champions trophy.

Scullys also made headlines of a different type when they signed Paul Heaton, lead singer with pop group The Housemartins.

“This was in 1986 and caused a fair amount of media attention,” remembers Exton.

“He was playing Sunday League football with Grafton and a few of the Sculcoates players were in the same team.

“They recommended Paul to me so we signed him at virtually the same time as The Housemartins released ‘Caravan of Love’ which went straight to number one in the charts.”

“The funny thing was he turned up on his bike, chained it to the changing rooms, and played the game as though he was any other player. That was Paul, he was so down to earth, there was absolutely no edge to him.

“In a following game we had to play in the village of Bainton and we couldn’t believe it when they told us to change in a caravan.

“Caravan of Love was the country’s number one and the sound coming from that caravan was something else.”

Despite his worldwide fame, Heaton still insisted on playing.

“One night I got a call from Milan, it was Paul telling me he was just coming off stage and was catching the next plane home and would be back for tomorrow’s game.” Heaton, though, was only made substitute when he eventually arrived.

Exton adds: “When Paul formed the South and became more famous, his appearances for Sculcoates were limited.

“He still keeps in touch and has been to many of our club events and presentations.”

Sculcoates are currently joint top of the Humber Premier League while Exton’s own jobs now include being a County League vice president.

He’s been on the league committee since 1973, on the East Riding County FA since 1976 and now organises the British Legion Inter-League Cup and the Dave Whitton Cup.

His own playing days may be a thing of the past, but he remembers playing for Blundell Rovers, White Star, Greenwood, Redifusion, Sculcoates and Southcoates.

“Don’t make it sound as though it’s a one-man job being secretary of Sculcoates Amateurs, I’ve had tremendous support from people like Pete Naylor, George Quinn, Trevor Jones, Harry Dobbs, Mark Petch, Darren Lever, Steve Burlock and Pete Smurthwaite.

“Football is a team game and you have to have a good back-room team. I’ve been very lucky, they’ve made my life a pleasure.”

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