Calcutta, Bengal, India born Hubert Ashton an accomplished amateur footballer, playing as a left back for West Bromwich Albion reserves, The Corinthians, Bristol Rovers and Clapton Orient. After playing at Winchester College, he was on West Brom’s books as an amateur during their 1919-20 League Championship winning season, but he never appeared for their first team.
He played for The Corinthians from 1919, and won his Blue at Cambridge University in 1920, before joining Third Division (South) Bristol Rovers in August 1924, making his Football League debut and only appearance for The Pirates’ first eleven in May 1925. He then joined Second Division Clapton Orient in August 1926 and made 5 first team appearances for them between December 1926 and February 1927.
In addition to his footballing career, Ashton was perhaps best known for his cricket – he was a sound right-hand batsman in the outstanding Cambridge University sides in the years just after the First World War, in which he had been commissioned in the Royal Field Artillery and had won the Military Cross, and he played for Essex in the holidays.
In both 1921 and 1922 he scored more than 1,000 runs and at the end of the 1922 season, after just three years in first-class cricket, Ashton was averaging more than 46 runs per innings. His most famous exploit, though, was as a member of the amateur side assembled by Archie MacLaren to take on the hitherto-invincible 1921 Australian cricket team at Eastbourne. Bowled out for just 43 runs in the first innings, the so-called “England XI” were, at 60 for four wickets in their second innings, still 71 behind when Ashton was joined by Aubrey Faulkner. Ashton hit 75 in 72 minutes, Faulkner made 153 and McLaren’s side won the match by 28 runs. Ashton was named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1922 largely on account of this innings.
Ashton was involved in an extraordinary incident during the match against Lancashire. He was bowled, but both bails went up in the air and then returned to their grooves on top of the stumps, meaning that he was not out. At the end of the 1922 cricket season Ashton joined the Burmah Oil Company, and his appearances thereafter were sporadic. He played for India and for Burma against the Marylebone Cricket Club (M.C.C.) side led by Arthur Gilligan that toured India in 1926-27; he reappeared for several Essex matches in 1927; and there were a handful of first class games across the 1930’s, the last in 1939. In total he played 71 first class matches, scoring 4,025 runs at an average of 38.70, with 8 centuries and 21 fifties and a highest score of 236 not out. He also held 71 catches.
He was knighted in 1959 and it was as Sir Hubert Ashton that he became M.C.C. president in 1960-61.
He was the brother of Gilbert and Claude Ashton, both of whom played football and cricket at the top levels, and also of Percy, who played first class cricket.