Shock at death of 'fearless' Duchy League footballer Matt Oke
A POPULAR goalkeeper who was found dead in his car in North Cornwall has been described as a star by the secretary of a club he used to play for.
Matt Oke, 36, is thought to have taken his own life.
Matt was the first-team goalkeeper for Bradworthy in Devon, but had previously been a regular between the sticks for Week St Mary, who play in the Duchy League.
He was found dead in his car in the car park of the Treetops Inn in Week St Mary at 7.30pm on Saturday week by police after a call from a member of the public.
They found a shotgun beside Mr Oke's body and say they are not treating the death as suspicious.
"He was a star in goal," said Mike Caesar-Gordon, the secretary of Week St Mary AFC.
"He joined us when we were in the Duchy League in 2004 and played through four seasons of promotion until we reached Division 1.
"Every time he played the opposition would ask who the goalkeeper was. He was such a flamboyant character – so brave; he would never pull out of a challenge."
Week St Mary team manager Tom Hannaford, who had known Mr Oke for 24 years, coached him from an under-12 to playing with him in men's football at Holsworthy.
"After a few years I brought him to Week St Mary for eight years, where he helped the team's achievements from Kingsley League through to Division 1 in the Duchy League," said Mr Hannaford.
"As a goalkeeper I haven't seen, played with or managed anyone better.
"His fearlessness and attitude to the game was unbelievable and he will most certainly be sadly missed by players, friends and family alike.
"We send our condolences to his brother Peter and partner Jo."
Mr Oke lived most of his life in the Holsworthy area but spent a lot of time in Week St Mary where he had many friends. An agricultural contractor, he is believed to have had money worries.
Tributes have flowed in from the community and football clubs.
Holsworthy manager Steve Lewis said: "He was such a well-liked boy. He'd do anything for anybody."
Annabel Shields, landlady of the Golden Fleece in Holsworthy, said: "Matt made a deep and lasting impression on everyone who met him.
"He was a great friend to us all at the pub and always fiercely loyal to his friends."
Mr Oke's manager at Bradworthy FC, Steve Jenkins, said Matt had been through some tough times.
He said: "Matt started off his days with us as a youngster coming along to training.
"He's had several clubs since then but has been back with us for two seasons and he's probably one of the best keepers to have come out of the area.
"He wasn't in a good place these past few months and things started to get on top of him, but there was nobody better around and he will be missed. It's hard for the guys he's left behind."
His funeral service is private, for family and close friends, but those who knew him are welcome at the Holsworthy Magpie RBL Club next Tuesday from 2.15pm to 5pm.