County continues in mourning the death of ‘Galloping Major’ Philip Hope-Cobbold
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Tributes have continued to pour in following the death of legendary Ipswich Town patron and former director Philip Hope-Cobbold.
Born at Glemham Hall in 1943 to William Hope-Johnstone and Pamela Cobbold, Mr Hope-Cobbold’s death was confirmed by the club on Wednesday, July 8, aged 76.
A distinguished military man, known as the “Galloping Major”, Mr Hope-Cobbold became renowned across Suffolk not only for his passion for his beloved club – but for his warmth, generosity and gentle character. He was also the last in a long line of Cobbolds to serve on the club’s board.
He opened the doors of Glemham Hall – which he inherited from his uncle Patrick in 1994 – to the public, and became known for his eccentric tours and pre-season barbecues.
A former military man, he was former president of Royal British Legion for Suffolk and was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 2005.
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A lover of all sports, notably cricket and tennis, Mr Hope-Cobbold’s true love (other than wife Raewyn) was Ipswich Town Football Club.
Indeed in the 500-year-old stately home, amid the plethora of Suffolk’s history and some if its finest art, was a toy tractor representing not only his team – but a nod to a Suffolk life he was so proud to live.
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His family had helped form the club and paved the way for domestic and European glory – and like so many of his lineage – his blood ran blue.
He attended his first game at Portman Road as a young boy in 1950, alongside uncle John Cobbold, then a director of the club. His love for the club continued throughout his life, being appointed director by then chairman John Kerr in 1995, following Patrick’s death.
A very special gentleman
In a statement, Glemham Hall said: “We are deeply saddened to tell you that our dear owner of Glemham Hall, Major Philip Hope-Cobbold, passed away peacefully yesterday.
“We are all devastated by his loss as he will be so sorely missed here at Glemham. He was a very special gentleman of engaging character with such a wicked sense of humour!
“Our hearts are broken. We will all miss him terribly, his booming voice and his unrivalled love of red wine!
“We love you Philip, may you rest in peace.” More than just a football fan
Ipswich Town director and friend, Richard Moore, said his spirit must be “kept alive” at the club.
Mr Moore added: “I am so deeply saddened to hear the news of Phillip’s passing and my thoughts go out to his family at this time. He will be greatly missed by us all.
“We joined the board around the same time together and we joked that perhaps we were ‘Hinge and Bracket’.
“We have shared many precious moments over the years and we have spent much time together. Opposites attract – I would go shopping at Versace and Phillip would go into his attic!
“I sat next to him at all board meetings and he was such an emotional and passionate man about Ipswich Town FC and our fans. Many times I had to pass a handkerchief under the table and I always made sure that I had a spare.”
Mr Moore added some of his favourite memories with Mr Hope-Cobbold included a trip to Majorca, while fans have also shared their joy of meeting him on away days during Ipswich’s European heyday.
He said: “In the spirit of Ipswich Town Football Club we must keep him alive and treasure those special moments.”
TalkSport presenter Georgie Bingham, an Ipswich Town fan, said Mr Hope-Cobbold “epitomised” what Ipswich was.
She said: “This man was the life and soul of every gathering he was at and a very old family friend.
“We’re all so sad he’s gone. Ever present at Ipswich Town, he will be much, much missed.
“What a character. Epitomised what Ipswich was.”
Former Ipswich captain Matt Holland added: “Incredibly sad news. What a fantastic man with a great sense of humour.
“Such passion for the club and will be deeply missed by all the Ipswich Town family.”
A lover of Suffolk
Anthony Cobbold, Mr Hope-Cobbold’s distant cousin and family historian, said he will forever remember Philip for his kind nature and humour.
Mr Cobbold said: “He was such a jovial man – he used to call his bald patch his solar panel – he had a fine sense of humour which he used a lot. Being around him was always fun.
“In a sense, he was the final piece in a long line of Cobbolds associated with the football club, and there is no doubt the family made an enormous input into Ipswich and Suffolk in general.”
Mr Hope-Cobbold leaves behind sons Thomas and Timothy, and his grandchildren Bella, Oliver, Tristan and Bay.
Who are the Cobbold family?
No family has played such an instrumental role in the history of Ipswich – and Suffolk – quite like the Cobbolds.
Their association with the region stretches hundreds of years after the first Cobbold brewery opened in Harwich in 1723, before moving to Cliff Lane in Ipswich in 1746.
The brewery would later merge with Tollemache in 1957 to become the famous Tolly Cobbold brewery, which eventually became part of Greene King in 2005.
Away from beer, the philanthropists are well known for their role in securing the future of Christchurch Park, with Felix Thornley Cobbold buying the mansion in 1895, then at threat of demolition, and returning it to the Ipswich Corporation and the people of Ipswich.
They helped kick-start development at Felixstowe, and funded a First World War memorial wing at Anglesea Road Hospital, as well as a children’s wing and a tennis court for nurses.
What link do the Cobbold family have with Ipswich Town FC?
It is no surprise so much of Ipswich Town’s glorious history came thanks in part to the Cobbold family.
It was indeed the Cobbold family who helped form the club in 1878, with then Ipswich MP Thomas Clement Cobbold serving as the club’s first president. Five family members would serve as chairmen.
A visit to Highbury, the former home of Arsenal, saw club president John “Ivan” Cobbold invest the funds to turn the club professional in 1936. He died after a bomb fell on the Guards Chapel in 1944.
The family’s ties with the club continued after the war, with Ivan’s son John appointed a director aged 21 in 1948, later becoming chairman himself at the end of the 1956/57 season.
It was under his tenure that Town were crowned league champions in 1962, before a battle with cancer saw him step down to continue as a director in 1976. Before his death in 1983, aged 56, the club had lifted the FA and UEFA cups and cemented themselves in history as a power house of English football.
The family handed over the reins to John Kerr in 1991, but have remained in Town folklore since.