By Russell Bennett
Last Saturday was in memory of ‘Hibby’.
The 2017/18 West Gippsland Cricket Association season is the first since the passing of one of life’s great, genuine characters – former Catani Cricket Club secretary Matthew ‘Hibby’ Hibbert – back in June.
The Cats, as well as the Western Park Cricket Club and Warragul Industrials Football Club, are so much poorer for his passing and will never quite be the same again.
On Saturday at Catani, just prior to their Sub-District clash with Gembrook, the Cats paused to remember and pay tribute to their great mate with both a minute’s silence, and the unveiling of a memorial club shirt and cap to Hibby’s parents – Ross and Sheryl.
“It was a pretty emotional day on Saturday,” said Cats club president Brad ‘Snags’ McDonald.
“For me, personally, it has really only just started to hit me that he’s gone.
“He did that much work for me as secretary. We had to chat three to four times a day on the phone – sometimes more – but now I haven’t got him it’s been really tough. I really miss our banter and the many laughs we had together.
“From a club point of view, I think it’s hit the boys now as well. It was a great club before Hibby got there, but it was a bloody sight better with him in it.”
Prior to Saturday’s game, Hibby’s parents – Ross and Sheryl – unveiled a memorial to their son – the club’s way of honouring one of their own. It will be kept at the club and placed on the wall beside the bar as a constant reminder of him.
“I hope he was happy with the way we honoured Hibby,” Snags said.
“It was something as president I never wanted to have to do. We can’t bring the big fella back, but we can make sure we remember him and pledge as a club that we will make sure it happens.”
Shortly after Hibby’s passing, Snags paid tribute to the person he was and just what he meant to the club.
“Hibby was not only a player and a team-mate but our club secretary, and a larger than life character who was quick-witted and had a great sense of humour,” he said.
“His personality really did endear him to everyone at the club, and nobody had a bad word to say about him.
“Although he only came to the club a few years ago, he fell in love with the place instantly and took on the role as secretary in only his second year with us.
“Hibby also insisted on taking on the social media role at the club and made the club Facebook page his own, and he always did a great job in representing us in a professional and positive manner.
“As a club we have lost a piece of us that can never be replaced. To say this loss has hit us all hard is a huge understatement – especially our younger players who absolutely loved Hibby and his cheeky sense of humour.
“We carry with us some very fond memories and countless funny stories about a great mate, a loyal clubman and ripping bloke and they can never be taken away from us.”