DAVID JOHN HEBDEN 1947 - 2013: John Hebden


Rotherham Rugby Club is saddened by the recent untimely death of long-standing clubman and Vice President John Hebden. The club would like to extend its deepest sympathies to Johns family and friends.

John was born in Rotherham in 1947 into a family of Chemical Engineers.  His Father was Chief Scientist at the NCB South Yorkshire HQ in Thrybergh. His Uncle and Grandfather were also both Chemical Engineers of renown.

He attended Oundle School in Northamptonshire – a famous Rugby school that had 18 Rugby pitches and just one for Soccer!  He played prop for the 1st XV and represented Northants Schoolboys.  The rest of his front row at Oundle went on to play 1st XV for Rosslyn Park after leaving school.

John went on to Huddersfield Technical College where he qualified in the family tradition as a Chemical Engineer. His first job was working for British Gas at their Walsall Plant. He then moved north to the Grimethorpe Coking Plant followed by a brief spell in Southampton before returning north to Rotherham 25 years ago to work for the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis at Immingham. John being John was still fulfilling his consultancy duties at Novartis up to a couple of weeks before his death.

John’s association with Rotherham Rugby Club began on his return from Southampton when his son Ben started playing for the Mini-Juniors. Ben also went on to play prop for the Colts and eventually had a stint with the 1st XV. He also represented Yorkshire at Colts and Under 21 level. During this time John dutifully gave encouragement from the touchline, chauffeuring players to matches and putting his hand in his pocket to help fund yet another tour or jug of beer. He continued to quietly sponsor and support Youth Rugby at Rotherham until his untimely death.

John was probably best known to Rotherham supporters as a long serving gateman who took their money on Match Days. A job he did for 15 years in fair weather and foul. His two main interests outside of his Family and Chemical Engineering were Freemasonry and Rotherham Rugby Club. He was very much a creature of habit, if he was not down at the Masonic Hall in Wellgate of an evening you would know he had frequented the Rugby Club by the 3 empty peanut bags that had accompanied his 3 pints of Stella.

John took his commitments very seriously. In Freemasonry most masons are fortunate enough to achieve the office of Master of their Lodge once in their lifetime. John held that office 5 times in two Lodges.  Similarly he was concerned right up to his death that his Process Engineering computer systems at Novartis did not contain any technical booby traps for those who followed on.

John Hebden was a true gentlemen and scholar who served Family, friends, colleagues and Rotherham Rugby Club well. Rest in Peace job well done.