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Chris Loeber

Posted by Andy Topley on 31/03/2017 11:34

It was with great sadness that we recently heard of the tragic death of Chris Loeber.


Chris first played for the club as a youngster whilst at Ernest Bailey Grammar School, one of Bob Winthrope’s many excellent cricketers.

Chris was an excellent wicketkeeper in the 1980s and the great abilities which he brought to the side helped it win many league and cup honours. Chris was always lively and enthusiastic offering help and encouragement to his team mates and combined this with coaching our youngsters. Chris’s Mum and Dad, Mary and Con Loeber were avid supporters of the club and Andy, Chris’s brother, also played for Darley Dale.


Chris was also a very accomplished rugby player with Matlock Baileans and represented Derbyshire and the Three Counties. After retiring from playing Chris took to coaching helping to produce many fine players and teams for Matlock over many years.


Chris studied law at the University of Liverpool and was senior partner at Potter and Co solicitors, who have been a long standing supporter and sponsor of the club.


Chris was known by many, many people and is a great loss to our wider community


Our thoughts and prayers go to Laura and his family at this very difficult time.


Rest in Peace Chris.



Bryn Thompson has shared his own memories of Chris:


I heard this terribly sad news on Wednesday, and am still trying to process it.  I knew Chris extremely well, both as a friend and team-mate at DDCC (73-82) and as a rival rugby opponent when I was captain of the Old Mannerians (Bakewell) and he was captain of Old Baileans, and later when I played for Glossop against Matlock.  More recently I was Guest Speaker at a couple of Matlock Rugby Dinners and stayed over at Chris and Laura’s.


For those who played with me in that era (Andy, Bob, Richard, Simon, Phil etc) you may recall that I lost my own father in what appear to be unfortunately similar circumstances, in August 1976.  I was on a Derbyshire Colts Cricket Tour in Oxford at the time, and my mother withheld the tragic news until the end of the tour, as she could see no benefit in bringing me home early from the tour. 


When I returned there was a note through my door from Chris, expressing his utmost sympathy, offering to help in any way he could, and giving me the choice of whether I wanted to play or not on the Saturday against Alvaston and Boulton.  It was a measure of the man that he had hand-delivered this note to make sure I got it on my return. 


I opted to play, and although I have no real memory of the game (as these things become incidental in such circumstances), I do fondly recall the support and sympathy I received from my Darley Dale team-mates including Chris who helped me greatly through such a time.  Although I’d lost touch over the past decade, I have never forgotten his kindness and consideration. 


If there is anything the Club plans to do in support of Chris’s family please let me know, and also if anyone knows details of when the commemoration service is, please send details, thank you. 


RIP Chris. 


Memories of Chris

John Smith:

Bryn's mention of Alvaston & Boulton reminded me that when we won the League for the first time, in September 1972 in a "shoot-out" winner-takes-all match against A&B,  Chris came into the team in place of one of the regulars who was unavailable that day.  I cannot recall having played with him before then, so he must have been very young, but the occasion did not faze him at all.

I've checked the photo from that day to make sure memory is not deceiving me - it is the one that still adorns one of the clubhouse walls.  

I endorse everything that has been said. RIP, Chris.


John Stone:

It was especially poignant for me when, just a matter of hours after learning of the tragic passing of my old school friend Chris, I came across a picture of us both in the 1969/70 Ernest Bailey school rugby team which purely by chance the Matlock Mercury included in their ‘retro’ section the next day.  Chris and I travelled into Matlock together on the school bus every day for six years and became close friends.  We were both sports mad – cricket, rugby and football (yes – football!  As a boy Chris was a keen fan of Hull City).  No-one could have wished for a more level-headed and reliable friend at such a young age. 

We played countless cricket and rugby matches together for the school  and house teams over those years.  In the summer term we seemed to be playing cricket or practising it in the school net together almost every day.  (My only minor quibble with Chris was  – as a net bowler he wasn’t the best - but then he was a wicket-keeper!) 

I have dug out the 1970 school magazine in which Bob Winthrope wrote a short assessment of each of the players in that rugby team photograph.  Bob started the section on Chris with the words ‘Everyone said Chris was too small..........until they saw him play’.  That summed up Chris perfectly.  Small in stature and with that lovely even temperament off the field - but once he crossed that white line – he was desperate to win. 

Back with cricket - I remember how excited we both were as fourteen year olds when Chris’s dad fixed it for us to make our debuts together for Darley Seconds in the same match.  We were a bit nervous but we both did quite well.  A few years later we both broke into the first team at around the same time under the captaincy of RW.  Now we got to call him ‘Bob’ not ‘Sir’.

 Unfortunately my own Darley first career ran out of steam after three seasons but Chris was made of much sterner stuff.  His own sporting story was still very much on the up and up with the best still to come.  The rest is history.  Chris’s place in the annals of both Darley cricket and Matlock rugby is assured.

 But perhaps even more important than his sporting achievements, Chris was just an all round nice guy.  Like countless others, I am proud to have been his friend and I would like to offer my condolences and best wishes to his family.


Jim Fearne:

So good to read these fabulous tributes to Chris. I have so many memories, not only sporting.

Chris had a brilliant laugh, which made him an essential audience member and thankfully he was a faithful supporter of some of the rubbish I performed down the years. I can hear that laugh now, distinctive and slightly ahead of everyone else (if indeed anyone else bothered to laugh at all!).

Rugby-wise, he was always 'Skipper' to me, even when we met in the street in recent times. And I was 'Dempster', a nod to my journalistic roots.

As others have said, he went the extra mile when he saw that someone needed support. I remember getting a call from John 'Scoot' Hooton as an 18 year-old just out of Bailey's, which started with a gruff: "Have you paid your subs?" "Yes," I replied. "Hmm, just as well," said Scoot, because you're in the first team on Saturday..."

The first team! This was actually just before Chris was appointed Old Baileans skipper, but he must have noticed that I looked a bit out of sorts in the changing rooms at Cromford Meadows, preparing to make my first team debut. So as everyone else went through their pre-match rituals, Chris simply turned to me and said: "Come on Dempster, outside. Let's chuck a ball around for 5 minutes."  And that's what we did. It settled my nerves and was typical of the man. He didn't have to do it, but it was second nature for him to look out for someone else.

I wish I could have repaid that support when, as captain, he was required to drink a yard of ale on Old Baileans London tours, standing on a pub table.  He was, without doubt, the world's worst yard of ale drinker!  In all other respects however, he was absolutely the best leader of men, and 'Skipper' he will always remain.

My thoughts and prayers are with Chris and his lovely family.


Pete Denton:

I'd love to be eloquent enough to add to these wonderful tributes to Chris but I can only agree with the comments on what a genuine, kind person Chris was who would do anything for you and that he lived and fought for any team that he played for or coached.

A true gentleman.

RIP Chris


Rob James:

I feel a little like an imposter on this thread, but I'd like to add a few words.

Firstly, I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to Chris's family and his many friends.  During my time as Mercury sports editor around a decade ago, I would speak to Chris every Monday to get his summary of the weekend's first team game and a preview of the next fixture.  He always had time to talk and, as you would expect, always provided great copy for me.
He was clearly Matlock to the core and his enthusiasm for the game and the club was infectious. He was hugely respectful of opposing sides and the officials, even when discussing the most contentious of decisions.   He also had a hint of mischief, which every club rugby man clearly needs to spend so long in the game.
I know how highly he was regarded by his players and how inspiring he was to them, but also how enthused he was by the talent that was emerging through the ranks and breaking through into the first team at a time when Matlock was arguably the best rugby club in the county.  He had created a side and inspired performances which were easily good enough to claim the coveted back page lead story on numerous occasions.  
It didn't endear me to The Gladiators at times, but in my view you had to earn that place.   His teams - and quotes - certainly did.
A lovely man and it was a pleasure to have known him.
Kevin Rushton:
A part from the marvellous work Chris did as a solicitor for my family, he made me, "a footballing Jessica," into a half decent first team rugby player. You made me smile with your line 'a hint of mischief'. Totally appropriate!
Laura and the family are in our thoughts.  
RIP Chris.