THE Hunter cricket community is reeling after the shock death of popular Stockton and former Weston player Patrick O’Rourke at 27.
O’Rourke was found dead on Wednesday morning in his bed at the family home at Weston after suffering what is suspected to be an epileptic seizure overnight.
Raised in Weston, O’Rourke was a former top-grade fast bowler who captained Stockton-Raymond Terrace to the second-grade Newcastle district cricket title last season playing alongside older brother Rob and younger sibling Andrew.
The brothers also played together for a season with Weston in the Maitland competition.
Stockton president Ron Hancock paid tribute to the man who played with the Seagulls for several seasons and had become a popular member of the club.
‘‘We’re all stunned,’’ Hancock said.
‘‘I’ve had so many phone calls, emails, text messages from so many people, they just can’t believe it. Everybody to a man says what a great bloke he was.
‘‘No one had a bad word to say about him.
‘‘He was very loved and popular in the club.’’
Hancock said O’Rourke was a top-grade bowler who had played on through a shoulder injury in recent seasons but had hoped to return to first grade next season.
‘‘He was really well liked as the second-grade captain,’’ he said.
‘‘But he was a genuine first-grade bowler. He had been playing wounded over the last four years, which showed what a big heart he had.’’
Rob O’Rourke said his brother had suffered from sleep epilepsy and had his first seizure at age 17 but had not had an attack during the four years before his death.
He said his family were in shock but had been heartened by the tributes and support coming from friends.
‘‘Everyone’s shattered,’’ Rob said.
‘‘He was mates with everyone down here, he just loved having fun.
‘‘He was just a top bloke.
‘‘He played cricket over in England as well, he’s got mates everywhere.’’
He said playing alongside Pat in the final-winning side last season would be a special memory for him and Andrew.
‘‘It was really good and his girlfriend of two years, her dad played in it too,’’ he said.
‘‘It was really good.’’
O’Rourke was living with his parents, Mark and Christine, while finishing the final year of a primary school teaching degree at the University of Newcastle.
His funeral is expected to be held next Tuesday or Wednesday.