Sir Jack Hobbs

Sir Jack Hobbs, who became one of England's greatest ever cricketers, played football for both St Mary's and the Cambridge United Amateur Football Club, both of these clubs have extremely close ties with the Lilywhites.

John Berry Hobbs, better known as 'Jack', was born at his grandparents' house in Brewhouse Lane on December 16th, 1882. Brewhouse Lane was a lane that ran off Norfolk Street near St Matthew's Church. His father was employed at the University Cricket Ground (Fenner's), where he would bowl at the students in the nets and act as a professional umpire. Jack went to school at the St Matthew's Church School, where he would often play football and cricket in the school's play ground. The goals or wickets being chalked up on the school's walls. Though family life was hard, he was the eldest of twelve children and money was tight, he had an enjoyable childhood and took every opportunity to play sport, especially cricket and football. He joined the St Matthew's Choir and the Ainsworth Bible Class, mainly because they had cricket teams. In the summer he would often help his father at Jesus College, where his father had become a groundsman and umpire.

As a footballer, Jack played as a forward and described the football pitches on Parker's Piece as beautiful. He originally played for St Mary's and was part of their team that won the Cambs Senior Challenge Cup in 1906. He later played for the Cambridge United Amateur team and scored when then beat Lowestoft 2 - 1 in one of the qualifying rounds of the F.A. Cup. Newspaper cuttings said that at one stage he had to leave the field for treatment in the dressing room but returned to crack the winner, though later he had to return to the dressing for the rest of the match.   

Jack's cricketing skills had seen him play Minor Counties Cricket for Cambridgeshire before joining Surrey. His career went on to see him score 197 first-class hundreds (15 for England). He played cricket all over the world and even on one of the tours to Australia played some football..

After retiring from first-class cricket, he worked in Fleet Street for a time and also helped out in one of the family's sports shops. One of which was in Cambridge. In 1953 he was knighted for service. He was also famous enough to feature in Madame Tussaud's and it was Mr John Tussand who created the wax statute of Sir Jack.' While in Cambridge we have the Hobbs Pavillion, which was built in 1930 to celebrate him breaking W.G. Grace's record of the most first-class hundreds.

Sir Jack Hobbs, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Hove on December 21st, 1963. On learning of his death Wilfred Rhodes, who at one time opened for England with Sir Jack, said ""Jack was the greatest batsman of my time. I learnt a lot from him when we went in first together for England". While another England colleague, Herbert Strudwick, said: On any type of wicket, he was the best batsman in my experience, a first-class bowler if given the chance, and the finest cover point I ever saw.""

You can learn more about Sir Jack Hobbs by visiting the website, http://www.sirjackhobbs.org.uk 

Sources include;                                                                                                                                                                            Wisden Cricket Almarnacks                                                                                                                                                                  My Cricket Memories by Sir Jack Hobbs                                                                                                                                            My Life Story by Sir Jack Hobbs                                                                                                                                                       Playing for England by Jack Hobbs                                                                                                                                                  Complete record of all the first-class matches performances of Jack Hobbs by W.P.H. Sparkes                                    Jack Hobbs by Ronald Mason                                                                                                                                                               Jack Hobbs, Gentleman and Player by Pat Lansberg                                                                                                                   Jack Hobbs, Profile of the Master' by John Arlott                                                                                                                           Jack Hobbs - England's Greatest Cricketer by Leo McKinstry                                                                                                          A Century of Cricketers by A.G. Moyes                                                                                                                        Cambridgeshire Football Association Centenary 1884 - 1984 by F.C. Barrett, M.B.E.