Ireland’s hockey community has been shocked to hear of the unexpected and sudden passing of Philip Duke – known as ‘Dukie’ to his thousands of friends – who died, aged 56, at his home in South Belfast on Thursday last week.Dukie attended Methodist College Belfast (Methody) a part of the class of 1979, it was there he became famous for his cheeky smile, great sense of humour and talents on the sports field – particularly hockey, cricket and tennis where he represented Ulster school level. Before joining Methody Dukie attended school RBAI with his brother Peter for a short period and had attended Inchmarlo Preparatory School where his father was a senior teacher.
Whilst at school Dukie played hockey and cricket for his beloved Collegians club at Deramore Park and continued his love of sport when Collegians became Belfast Harlequins in 2000.
Through his contribution to hockey he was a top hockey goal scorer, highly respected senior umpire, coach, mentor, tournament judge and trusted administrator as an official, managing Ulster and Irish hockey teams through many years – as recently as just last month in Valencia for Ireland u21 men’s team.
It was not just in the highest levels of hockey where he thrived, Dukie made everything fun, organising many hockey trips under the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and Team Gordon’s touring name, he took teams around Ireland for mixed hockey summer madness in the 1980s and 90s creating too many stories that cannot be shared in writing.
If traditional sports were not enough Dukie was also a high scoring ‘ten pin’ bowler, heading away on regular team trips to Spain and around the UK for more laughs and memories – although it is understood not much bowling was always played.
Dukie also played golf and was a strong swimmer, always active even if just walking or out and about in his native South Belfast. Just last weekm Dukie was living life to the full, socialising and dancing as he celebrated the anniversary of Harlequins Men’s Hockey 50th at a dinner in their Deramore Park clubhouse with some of his oldest and closest friends.
This was just hours after he had come out of hockey playing retirement and scored a brace of goals against Downpatrick, encouraging him to play more hockey again this season.
Many did not know of Dukie’s contribution to blood and platelet donation at Belfast City Hospital haematology unit, many patients have benefited thanks to his thoughtfulness. He is recognised as contributing over 250 times, receiving presentation of a special award and certificate ceremony in his more recent years.
Dukie was a professional in everything he did – he was dedicated to his newspaper and magazine business for twenty years working for Menzies in Belfast before adapting to a changing market in the internet age.
A true entrepreneur he set up his own business allowing him to invest time in his second biggest hobby, traveling. Those who knew him best shared trips to Canada, Amsterdam, Dubai, Las Vegas and the Far East where he was always relaxed, outgoing and had a surprise up his sleeve to make the trip extra special.
Dukie will be remembered forever and was greatly loved by everyone, those reading this will know he has gone before his time. He was a very special person who had time for everyone and left a lasting impression on anyone he met all over the world.
It is expected his funeral will be held in St Bartholomew’s Church, Stranmillis, Belfast on Monday 16th of October.