By Lance Jenkinson
Hoppers Crossing Cricket Club is mourning the death of Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association first XI player Bryce Stuart.
Stuart went missing on Friday night, but players and supporters of the Cats arrived at Hogans Road Reserve for their match against Werribee on Saturday hopeful he would make it in time to play.
The hours went by and still there was no sign of Stuart, but, about 2pm, the club received the worst possible news that his body had been found by Victoria Police.
A shattered Cats president Jake Porter immediately called off all six of his club’s senior games and supporters of the club gathered to grieve.
“A lot of us were there on the Saturday talking, crying and sharing stories, and supporting the family,” Porter said.
“The same thing on Sunday, there was another group that went down to the club and spent some time together and banded together.”
Stuart was a long-time member of Hoppers Crossing.
The 29-year-old spent most of his sporting life with the Cats, playing junior cricket before graduating to the seniors.
In 2018, Stuart broke into the Cats’ first XI and built a reputation as dangerous left arm quick with a unique bowling style.
“In the past couple of years, he got his opportunity in the first XI and he grabbed it with both hands,” Porter said.
Stuart will be dearly missed at Hoppers Crossing.
His humour and generosity made him a much-loved figure at Hogans Road.
“We’re going to miss his laugh,” Porter said. “He had the ability to go into a room and light it up with his humour and start conversations.
“We spoke about it on Saturday, the club, for a lot of us it’s a family.
“He’s a significant part of that family.
“It’s going to be a huge loss.
“He was a great man.”
Stuart’s best trait was his caring for others.
If someone needed to talk to in a tough time, the Hoppers Crossing resident would lend an ear.
Only seldomly did Stuart post to his Twitter account, but one of the most recent tweets in his timeline was offering support to Australian captain Steve Smith after the ball tampering affair, which he tweeted: ‘Hold your head high mate, you made a mistake and you will get past this’.
“He’s a bloke with a heart of gold and will do anything for anyone,” Porter said.
“I know he has been a confidant for people, he’s taken people’s feelings and what’s been going on in their lives on board, but probably what’s happened here is that he hasn’t felt that he can do that and share how he’s feeling.
“He was very much about others all the time and probably not thinking sometimes about himself enough.” The Stuart family, including dad, Dennis, mum, Christine, and younger brother Kieran, have urged people to talk about negative feelings they might be experiencing.
They want Bryce’s death to be a reminder that people are there to offer support in tough times if you speak up.
“A great example of that was Saturday and the amount of people that flooded through the club and people who hadn’t been around the club for a little while popped down,” Porter said.
“On social media, the outpouring of grief and support has been overwhelming, whether it’s people who play for the club, other clubs in the association or other clubs in general.
“The family has been very big on letting people know that you need to talk about your feelings and to let people know if things aren’t going well because there’s always someone in your corner.”
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