George John Meldon

Born18 January 1885 Dublin
Died27 November 1951 Stourbridge, Worcestershire
EducatedStonyhurst College, Dublin University
OccupationDoctor then Surgeon. Later Medical Suprintendent of Maternity Hospital.
Debut11 July 1904 v Cambridge University at The Mardyke, Cork
Cap Number253
StyleRight-hand bat
TeamsDublin University, Leinster, Woodbrook, Stourbridge
HistoryGeorge Meldon, elder son of Aloysius Meldon, Dublin solicitor and capable cricketer, was a member of a well known cricket family. Besides two uncles and his brother Louis, four cousins played for Ireland, while another cousin, also George - GEP Meldon - with whom he has been sometimes wrongly confused - played for Dublin University in their four first class matches in 1895. George J was two years in the XI at Stonyhurst, where he gained a high reputation. In his last season, 1902, he headed the batting averages with 717 runs at 34.14, being described by the school magazine as, "A very good bat." His academic progress some times left something to be desired but he succeeded in entering Dublin University as a medical student in 1902.

He was to be a member of the XI for seven seasons from 1903 to 1909, being captain in 1907. He came into the side as a free scoring front foot player with an open stance and a wide array of off side strokes. Circumstances changed him. After a loss of form, early in his career, he changed to a back foot player with a stance more akin to those later adopted by England batsmen such as Jim Parks and Peter Willey. He now scored mainly off the back foot, with a powerful hook, and a lofted back foot cover drive as his main weapons, though he retained his much admired cut strokes.

His first major match for the University was v a Gentlemen of Ireland XI at College Park in 1903, a trial match before both teams faced London County in June. Bill Harrington routed the hosts but George top scored with 61, "He gave, "said The Irish Times, "a perfect display, his cutting being particularly good." He did not gain selection for Ireland until the following season, but, when London County came to College Park, he excelled after a first innings duck. WG, perhaps smarting from a first ball dismissal, set the University an impossible 482 in 4 hours. They lost early wickets but George, in terribly cold conditions, gave a brilliant display. He made 118 in 150 minutes, reaching three figures by off driving Grace for 4. With the match saved, he gave the Old Man the charge and was stumped. He was to hit six more centuries for the University. The highest came in his last year, when he destroyed the visiting Cork County attack, making 178 out of a total of 334, including twenty one 4s. He was also one of several University batsmen around this time to take heavy toll of military bowling from the Curragh Garrison. In 1904, he hit a dazzling 126 sharing in a third wicket stand of over 200, with JT Gwynn (100). However his best hundred was arguably his lowest scoring one : in 1907 he carried his bat through an innings of 167 against Leinster with Harrington, flighting the ball skilfully despite his low arm and Bob Lambert pushing it through a near medium pace, making full use of a turning wicket. In all he hit six centuries for the University with a record aggregate of 3644 runs, his average being 34.96.

He also impressed for Leinster, mostly after he had left University and for Stanley Cochrane's side at Woodbrook In 1909, for both the University and Leinster he accumulated 1058 runs in 27 innings, causing the press to regret his enforced absence from the party to tour North America. With Frank Browning in decline, there was a shortage of quality batting in the side. George was badly missed. In 1911 for Leinster v Civil Service he shared in a stand of over 200 with Bob Lambert. . Lambert reached 203* and George made 100. Following a declaration at 349/7, Lambert took 7 cheap wickets to bowl Service out for 70. In 1912, George's last season in Ireland, his figures for Leinster were Innings 13, Not out 2, Runs 739, Highest score 176*, Average 67.18. The undefeated 176 was v Pembroke, but his best innings was in the Leinster Cricket Week. Batting against Woodbrook on a crumbling wicket, he showed that Cochrane's professionals could be handled. He mastered the leg spin attack of the great South African googly bowler Bert Volger and England's Test trialist Peter Clarke to reach 137. "It stamps him," suggested The Irish Times, "as the best bat in Ireland."

He also played some good innings for Woodbrook in the games with first class opposition. His best match was v Cambridge in 1908. He made 60 and 100, the second innings causing The Irish Times to declare, "His really was an excellent display. We have rarely seen the Varsity man play better." In 1910, though, Cambridge arrives one short. George helped them out but, batting at 3, was yorked by the Somerset pace bowler Ernest Robinson for 0. He did not do much better at the second attempt.

Like other members of his family, he was not always seen at his best for Ireland, though his performances seen above leave no doubt as to his class. His debut came v Cambridge at The Mardyke in 1904. Strange selection and several withdrawals left Ireland with, at best, a Second XI, whereas the visitors were near full strength. Ireland were outplayed but George, in his second innings, made an excellent 55 before running himself out. It was to prove his highest score for Ireland. What many see as his best knock for Ireland came at Woodbrook in 1907.This was against the full strength of Yorkshire in Cochrane's inaugural match. He made a brilliant first innings 34 against Hirst and Rhodes before, in depressingly familiar fashion, running himself out. "Hr gave a free and attractive display," said "Cricket." Another high point was his cameo second innings 41 v Scotland at Perth in 1909, when Ireland were heavily defeated. A Scottish reporter told his readers, "Brilliant cricket...scoring 41 out of 54 runs before being out to a shockingly bad stroke." It seems that impetuosity was sometimes his undoing. Against the visiting Philadelphians in 1908, in the first of two matched played in College Park, he batted well against the swing bowling of Bart King and the leg spin of Australian HV Hordern to make 25 out of an opening stand of 41 with Wilfred Bourchier, before being bowled pulling rashly at King. Ireland then collapsed twice, George running himself out again in the second innings. He failed to capitalise in the second match when Bart did not bowl, being dismissed cheaply by JA Lester, later to become the historian of Philadelphian cricket.

In 1912, he played his last two matches for Ireland. Both of these were as captain, against Scotland and South Africa. He was not able to finish in a high note, his best innings being 19 in the second knock against the South Africans. It was the joint second top score. His double failure against the Scots at Rathmines must have been upsetting, as Ireland, needing only 132 to win, went down by 3 runs.

In 1913, he became a surgeon at The Corbet Hospital in Stourbridge in the English Midlands. He played some matches for Stourbridge in the Birmingham League and developed his tennis to the extent of becoming Worcestershire champion. He also continued to play hockey, at which he had already represented Ireland. He gained 9 caps at outside right, four as captain. In 1914, "Country Life" commented, "His play is very finished and were all the Irish forwards of the same cleverness, the Hibernians would be able to play England very closely." In England he played hockey for Stourbridge and for Worcestershire. George saw service with the RAMC in the First World War, being "Mentioned in despatches," but otherwise spent the rest of his life, with his family, in Stourbridge. While he always retained a connection with the Corbet, his main medical interest was midwifery. He became Medical Suprintendent of the Mary Stevens Maternity Hospital which gained a high reputation under his direction. He was a well respected member of the community and is still, at the time of writing (October 2007) remembered with affection by some former patients.

Edward Liddle, October 2007, updated February 2021

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