Devon-based sports journalist Hugh Southon passes away at 79

Hugh Southon, a beloved sports journalist renowned for ghost-writing the late Bobby Moore’s column and later founding a prominent football fan site, has passed away at the age of 79.

Operating as a national freelancer and a 'hired gun', Hugh Southon had been based in Devon for much of his latter career. He contributed to virtually every national newspaper, with his prominent bylines gracing the sports pages.

During the 1980s, Hugh ghost-wrote 'World Cup-Winning', known as Bobby Moore's column, in the Sunday Sport, before later going on to create Claret & Hugh, a popular fan website for Moore’s former club, West Ham United.

A self-confessed “40 fags a day man” in his hectic early days, Hugh passed away peacefully at home after suffering for several years from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

West Ham football club owner David Sullivan was among those who paid tribute to Hugh Southon following his passing.

In a short tribute, Sullivan said, “He was a really nice man who I knew for over 40 years when he ghosted Bobby Moore’s column in the Sunday Sport.

“He invented and ran one of Britain’s best fan sites in Claret and Hugh, a must for West Ham United fans down the years. He’ll be missed by everybody at West Ham, where he was a supporter and season ticket holder.”

The site started out as a basic blogger hosted out of a Torquay flat but has gone on to be considered West Ham’s definitive daily online news source.

Fast achieving a weekly audience of more than 100,000, the website platform Claret & Hugh is now a business employing other journalists.

Despite his association with the Sunday Sport, Hugh was a devout churchgoer and reader of the Bible. He served as an advisory director for Son Christian Media Limited, the publishers of Sorted magazine, and played a pivotal role in the launch of The Son evangelical tabloid newspaper. The latter was a pastiche of the Murdoch redtop and was widely distributed in churches and communities across the UK.

Duncan Williams, a tabloid colleague and fellow SCM director, reflected, "Hugh and I spent many years living and working in Devon. We often engaged in amusing conversations about life, politics, and God. 

"Hugh cherished his involvement with Christian media in his later years, much like his love for West Ham football club and the Rolling Stones."

Williams added, "Despite his paradoxical nature, Hugh was truly an old-school journalist with ink in his blood."

He leaves behind a daughter and several grandchildren. His funeral took place on 3rd May.

Picture: Sean Whetstone, C&H 📸