HOCKEY players have agreed to name an award after a friend they looked up to.

Mat Hodge, a former first-team skipper at Knutsford and a member at the club for more than a decade, died last September.

He was 43.

“Mat was a phenomenal leader on and off the pitch,” said Jonny Price.

“Legend is an overused word sometimes, particularly in sport, but he is one to us and we miss him.”

At the end of this season Price and Tom Howard, who are co-captains, will decide who they think has been their team’s best performer on the pitch.

That individual will become the first to receive the Mat Hodge Award.

The Black Knights have also retired their teammate’s favourite number 47 shirt, which was his regiment number from time served with the British Army.

A new kit will also have those digits stitched on the sleeve.

Hodge score more than 100 goals during his time with Knutsford and led the team to two promotions as well as a Cheshire Plate win.

They were runners-up too in two other county knockout finals.

Price added: “Mat was a fantastic player in his own right.

“He was the one that picked me when I made my debut and has been a constant presence during my time at the club.”

Hodge, who lived in Knutsford, would have turned 44 yesterday, Wednesday.

He is survived by wife Georgina and two sons, Jamon and Jonty.