Resilient as an india-rubber ball, restless as a panther patrolling its patch, Ken Jubb was a rattling good forward, whose ‘party piece’ was a massive punt, occasionally way off target, that soared into outer space to the accompaniment of good-natured banter from Headingley’s South Stand. Moreover, from time to time, as an encore to one of his pile-driving touchline cover-tackles, he would slip in an acrobatic extra, cartwheels and flips being his specialities. We loved the guy!
Born in Wakefield on 11th May 1912, he learned his rugby with the City Boys and Trinity Supporters, playing alongside Sandy Orford (later of Dewsbury and Bradford Northern), before joining Castleford in 1930. Ideally built as a rangy second-rower, and a glutton for work, he was soon making a name for himself with the Wheldon Roaders, his storming displays earning a place in the Yorkshire side that routed Lancashire by 30 points to 3 at Wakefield’s Belle Vue in October 1932.
Good enough for Yorkshire as a 20-year-old, he was more than good enough for Leeds at 21! Signed on 31st August 1933 for a transfer fee of £500, or thereabouts, and settling in quickly into a team strengthened earlier in that same month by the capture of Welsh Rugby Union internationals, Iorwerth Isaac and Dicky Ralph, as well as Sep Aspinall from York, Ken made his England debut exactly four months later, on New Year’s Eve.
Nor was he ever ‘just another forward’, going through the motions. A tireless forager, it was his on-the-ball persistence that saved the day in the 1934 Yorkshire Cup Final at Crown Flatt, Five points down, and committed to playing without the injured Gwyn Parker for the whole of the second half, the Loiners were locked in a vice that became progressively tighter, but he would have no more of it! Tearing downfield in a fury born of utter frustration, he stole possession from full-back Bonner and threw out a splendid pass, to set his threequarters in motion, only to see a highly promising move break down through slipshod handling. Even so, all was not lost; an untidy heel by the Trinity pack, with the ball shooting out to their very line, a collision as half-backs Pickard and Burrows both went for the pick-up, and there was Jubby, out like a flash and hurling himself over in the corner, for Jim Brough to level the scores with a stupendous conversion. That, of course, was merely the first encounter in a Yorkshire Cup marathon that went to two replays before Stan Smith broke the deadlock with a hat-trick at Parkside.
He was never far from the action during 1935-36 either! Collecting a second Yorkshire Cup medal, by virtue of a hard-fought victory over York at Thrum Hall, he ran into terrific form during the R.L. Challenge Cup campaign, playing the game of his life in the torrid 3rd Round confrontation at Hull’s Boulevard, and responding to the magic of Wembley with a relentless tackling stint as woebegone Warrington wavered, wilted and finally went down without a whimper. Yet, well as he had played throughout the season, he missed out on the Australasian Tour, the selectors preferring to keep faith with Martin Hodgson, Jack Arkwright, Nat Silcock & Co.
Came 1937, came recognition at last, for just a fortnight after sharing in the glory of a Yorkshire Cup Final triumph over Huddersfield at Belle Vue, he was at Swinton’s Station Road, winning his Test spurs against Australia with a fine all-round performance that assured selection for the 3rd Test at Fartown.
Four Finals with Leeds, and a winner every time! And four Yorkshire League Championship medals, too! With a record like that, more’s the pity he was under suspension, along with Alf Watson, at the time of the 1938 Championship Final at Eiland Road. As it was, apart from making his seventh appearance for Yorkshire the following October, and his second for England (versus Wales at Llanelly) ten days later, no further honours came his way before the outbreak of hostilities in September ’39.
Not that even Adolf could stop him packing down entirely! Selected for two more internationals against Wales, and able to turn out for Leeds on 77 occasions in the Emergency Competitions, it is also interesting to note that on 23rd January 1943, Corporal K. Jubb touched down twice against a Northern Command R.U. XV, thereby clinching victory for the Northern Command R.L. XV in a rare game between the Unapproachables and the Untouchables, staged at Headingley under Union rules. Three months later, he was on the losing side in a Final for the first time, the Loiners bowing the knee to Dewsbury by the odd point in the two-leg R.L. Cup Final played on a home and- away basis.
Six long, wasted years! Six years older! Making only five appearances during 1945-46, Ken rounded off his career, or so it seemed at the time, with a match against Huddersfield at Headingley on 8th December. Brief though it was, his come-back in 1947 was memorable! Applying his fifteen stones at blind-side prop with all his former vigour and boundless enthusiasm, he played in six games in all, either side of the ill-fated Wembley Final, scored a couple of tries, and never failed to draw winning pay. Come to think of it, for all he was past his best, perhaps he should have played in seven!
A coal-face worker for seven years, prior to taking over as Licensee of the Town Hall Tavern, he subsequently became Mine Host at a number of inns in Bradford, in addition to The Bridge at Keighley. Now resident in the Buttershaw area, Ken still maintains a keen interest in the game, but finds cartwheels a bit dodgy!