Tributes to Worthing’s Wilf Hugill

TRIBUTES have been paid to Worthing football legend Wilf Hugill, who has died aged 75.

Wilf Hugill, also pictured left in action for Worthing FC in 1961, from the book Wilf produced entitled 100 Years at Woodside: A Pictorial History of Worthing Football Club

Former Worthing Football Club defender Wilf, a father of three and grandfather of four, died on Tuesday, March 10. Born in Bedford, in 1939, Wilf grew up in Washington and attended what is now Rydon Community College, in Storrington, becoming the school’s first head boy.

He later met wife Sonia at Worthing Football Club, in Woodside Road, Worthing, on a blind date organised by her sister. The couple married in 1965 and made their home in Worthing, with their wedding day falling not only during the football season, but on a match day – a bold move for Worthing FC left back Wilf. Sonia said: “Dick Tarrant, the manager at the time, pressured Wilf not to get married on the Saturday, because of the match. In the end, they called off the game and all the footballers came, which was nice.”

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Wilf had joined Worthing FC in 1958, and during his playing career was captain of Worthing, Horsham and Eastbourne United, in addition to the Sussex County Football Association, which he also managed. Worthing FC president Morty Hollis said a minute’s silence would be observed in Wilf’s memory before the club’s home match against Folkestone on Saturday. He added: “I knew Wilf from when he first came here. He was a good club man and a good family man. He was very professional in all he did with the club. He was one of the best left backs in the club’s history, and will remain so. We are very said that we have lost him.”

Worthing FC's Wilf Hugill a little later in his playing career

The year after Wilf and Sonia married, he captained Horsham in the FA Cup first-round tie against Swindon Town. Fellow Sussex sport stalwart Tony Mustard knew Wilf for almost 50 years. He said: “He had a brilliant left foot, such a sweet left foot. He could kick a ball for miles. And he was such a lovely man. He was a gentleman on the pitch, and off it.”

The good nature Wilf showed his team-mates and opponents on the pitch was an extension of his life away from it. “He was such a dignified, honest man,” said Sonia. “He never lost his temper. I never knew him to say a bad word about anyone. He was everything you would want in a perfect gentleman. He was one in a million. When God made him he threw the cast away. There isn’t another one like him.”

Wilf leaves Sonia, sons Matthew and Jazz, daughter Kelly and grandchildren Olivia, Yasmin, Isabelle and Jacob. Sonia said: “He battled two horrible illnesses. It was a battle and it was horrible. He had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, two ghastly illnesses.” Wilf’s funeral will be held at 11am on Wednesday, March 25, at Worthing Crematorium, and will be a celebration of his life. Sonia added: “If people would like to come and celebrate with us, they are more than welcome. And if people want to wear their football shirts, let them.” Donations in Wilf’s memory can be made to the Worthing branches of the Alzheimer’s Society and Parkinson’s UK, care of Ian Hart Funeral Services, Worthing, on 01903 206299 or online at