Emotional tributes paid to young Sussex cricketer at thanksgiving service

W13411H14-SussexCCC''Sussex County Cricket Club Press Day. Pictured is Matthew Hobden. SUS-140331-145338002
W13411H14-SussexCCC''Sussex County Cricket Club Press Day. Pictured is Matthew Hobden. SUS-140331-145338002

More than 600 people attended a service to celebrate the life of highly-rated Sussex cricketer Matthew Hobden at All Saints Church in Meads today (February 5). The church was packed as friends, family and coach-loads of cricketers turned out to pay their respects to the popular and talented 22-year-old, whose body was discovered by Police Scotland officers at a property in Forres, near Inverness, last month.

Matthew’s good friends Alex Boggis and Hugh Finzel were the first to pay tribute to the ‘most generous and loyal person they knew’ at the service. They made the congregation laugh with their stories of drunken nights out.

They said, “The highlight of a night out with Matt was almost always Matt. The boy was comedy gold.”

They added, “Matt, you lit up rooms with ease without knowing all eyes were on you.”

His brothers George and Charlie Hobden gave an emotional tribute and said they were ‘proud to call Matthew their brother’. They spoke about the lasting memories they had made and endless summers of playing cricket with Matthew who went on to become an ‘incredible bowler’.

They said, “We were immensely proud of what he had achieved.”

The two men spoke about their last holiday as a trio together in Singapore and became emotional.

They said, while in Singapore, Matthew had told them he wanted to play for England and his brothers told the congregation, “I truly believe he would have gone on to represent his country.”

In the touching tribute, they said, “There is no-one we would rather go down the pub for a drink with. We will miss you everyday for the rest of our lives.”

Matthew’s eulogy was read by David Stewart, foundation and development director at Eastbourne College. Matthew studied at Newlands School in Seaford, Eastbourne College, Millfield School in Somerset and at university in Cardiff.

Mr Stewart said Matthew had a very good education and was ‘always 100 per cent committed to what he was doing’. He said he was modest despite his talent for cricket.

Mr Stewart also joked and told stories about the funny memories he, fellow Eastbourne College teachers and students had of Matthew.

He joked, “I think it is fair to say his school life wasn’t all plain sailing.

“Some might say he was a naughty boy, and other might say he was very naughty boy.”

He added, “He challenged and provoked and got on the wrong side of some of his teachers, but so what!

“Matt was a champion cricketer, he was a champion sportsman, but most of all he was a champion bloke.”

Nicknamed Hobbo’ and Hobsy’, he was an integral part of Glynde and Beddingham’s senior squad aged 16 when they became the National Village Cricket Knockout Final held at Lord’s in 2009.

His cricket career soon ignited and played frequent first-class and limited-overs matches for Sussex over the past two seasons. He already had two first-class five-wicket hauls on his career record.

Matthew was earmarked for a bright future in the game and was one of six fast bowlers chosen to take part in the Potential England Performance Programme this winter.

The group were due to spend time in Johannesburg alongside the senior England side, helping with preparations for the one-day international series against South Africa. England wore black armbands in their second test match against South Africa last month.

Zac Toumazi, chief executive of Sussex County Cricket Club, also spoke at the service and said ‘cricket was in Matt’s blood’ and his shirt number would be retired.

He said a tree would be planted in the north east corner of the ground and added, “It will grow stronger each day, just as he should have done.”

The service was led by the reverend Chris Macdonald from Eastbourne College.

Matthew leaves his mother and father Peter and Emma and brothers George and Charlie. The family said they have been ‘overwhelmed with the messages of condolence’. They thanked everyone for their kindness.

The Herald was invited to attend the service and take photographs.

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