Unimaginable grief and bouncing back - untold story of former Chesterfield youth team player Anthony Jubb
There are not many people who deserve happiness more than Anthony Jubb.
His untold story is one of unimaginable grief, the lowest lows, bad luck and resilience.
But thankfully, by the end, there are reasons to smile.
There is no bitterness, just a wish to share his experiences and let people know they can come through hard times.
It all started on April 11, 1993, on the Isle of Man.
Anthony, then aged eight, had gone to play football with his dad Christopher, 45, when he collapsed and died of a heart attack.
“It was Easter Sunday and we went out to this duck race funnily enough,” Anthony told the DT. “We were in the park and I said to my dad let’s go play football. I dragged him to this field and put two jumpers down. I was playing football with him and I kicked him the ball and he fell and he basically died in front of my eyes.”
Anthony was really close to his grandparents and it was his grandma, Mary, who got him a trial at Chesterfield after ringing the then academy director, John Pepper.
Her request was granted and Anthony flew to England and played in a trial match against Rotherham United and did well.
Anthony moved to the Isle of Man when his dad got a new job there but he returned in 2000 to be closer to his grandparents in Sheffield.
The central midfielder had an opportunity to join Sheffield United but opted for the Spireites because he thought he stood a better chance of making it into the first-team and so linked up with Town’s youth team around the age of 14.
But then came another very sad moment in his life.
His grandad, George, who would sit next to him on the team coach to matches and watch him train, also passed away of a heart attack, aged 71.
“He was my best mate. He never got to see me sign pro which was quite difficult to take.”
On a three-year apprenticeship with the Blues, Anthony captained the youth team and played for the reserves.
His hard work and performances were then rewarded with a pro contract.
The likes of Ian Evatt, Shane Nicholson, Wayne Allison, Mark Hudson, Caleb Folan, Mark De Bolla and Derek Niven were all part of the squad back then, and, according to Anthony, the senior pros really rated him, as did assistant boss Lee Richardson.
“Players like Paul Hall and Barry Roche, who we had signed, were saying to me ‘where have you come from?’ because I was doing that well. Players like Mark Hudson from Middlesbrough and Derek Niven from Bolton, they thought I had come from somewhere like that. I was absolutely flying.”
As things were looking up for Anthony, tragedy struck again.
“I got this injury in my groin.
“I had injections and scans and I could not really shake it off.
“At the same time, my grandma had cancer and she was at Ashgate Hospice so everyday I would train, get my rehab and go to Ashgate Hospice.
“None of the players really knew this.
"I was unbelievably close to her.
“She passed away and I was like ‘this is a lot, this’.”
Still only around 18-years-old, his dad, grandad and grandma had all died.
And yet there was more bad news to come.
Just days after his grandma’s death, unable to give the club any clarity on when he would return from injury, he was released after four years at the club from 2002 to 2006.
“I didn’t care at that point. I was quite numb for a bit. I was just mourning my grandma.
“Jamie O’Hara came in and took my squad number. I was on a building site within six months, plastering.”
Not long before, Wayne Allison’s agent had shown interest in signing him.
Anthony, who supports Liverpool, tried to play Sunday League football but his groin caused him trouble again.
Two years after hanging up his boots, he contacted the PFA and they sent him for some tests.
It turned out the problem was his hips, not his groin.
“All that time we were looking in the wrong place and I could have got it sorted two years earlier.
"I don't want to say if I didn't have the hip problem I would have 100 per cent made it, but it did rob me of any chance of progressing.”
Later, when Anthony was 23, his close friend, Michael Riley, went to sleep and never woke up.
“I just thought life is too short and I went to America coaching for a year. That was the best thing I ever did.”
He got offered a full-time job over there but returned to see his family and friends and ended up staying.
Jobs in sales and window cleaning followed.
“I don’t know if young kids realise that you have got to back yourself up with something or you just fall into a black hole, which I did.”
Now aged 35, Anthony recruits people for positions at Atkins, an engineering and design company.
He has still got his Chesterfield shirts and plays five-a-side, although his hips still cause him problems because he still needs that operation to this day. He wasn’t planning on making a comeback and could still do day-to-day things so did not go through with it.
He also has a family of his own.
“I am well aware that football is a ruthless business so maybe to get out of it early and build a family and have other life experiences, maybe it would not have been as good a life.
“I was a footballer for four years, not many kids can say that.
"I wish I just could have played one match!
“I have got my fiance Jade, my daughter Delilah, life is good, even though you have some dark moments.”