- Born 20 January 1880 Cork
- Died Third quarter 1943, Cork
- Educated Presentation Brothers College Cork Queen's College Cork
- Occupation Doctor. RAMC 1907 - 1913
- Debut 11 July 1904 v Cambridge University at The Mardyke
- Cap Number 252
- Style Right hand batsman; slow right arm
- Teams Cork County
John Hart was a useful all round cricketer who, however, owed his one Irish cap to the selectors having chosen a somewhat different than usual side for the first of two matches against Cambridge University in 1904. Having played the game at school and University, John became a fixture in the County side, though, in those pre war years, it must be admitted that his performances in the major matches each season - those against Na Shuler and Dublin University - were often unimpressive.
Thus in 1903 the County bundled a strong Shuler side out for 93, but found themselves routed for 41. No batsman reached double figures, though John, with 2, at least had the satisfaction at not being among the five who failed to score. Fortunately for the hosts rain set in not long after the NS second innings had begun. His best matches were against the University. On their home turf in 1904, County gained an impressive win against a side that included three internationals as well as future millionaire impresario Stanley Cochrane. The visitors were put out for 138 to which County replied with 273. They batted all the way down to Mr Extras who, possibly because Cochrane was keeping wicket, contributed a useful 24 to the score. John, going in at 4 several places higher than usual, top scoring with 47.
The sides played two matches in 1906 both at the Mardyke, with John showing to advantage with the ball. In the first match, he batted down the order, but with an undefeated 11 was top scorer as County collapsed for 50. However the visitors did little better, being all out for 67, John, cleaning up the tail had 4 wickets. Rain intervened in the County's second innings with John on 0*, or there might have been an interesting finish. Six weeks later the two sides met again with the University winning by 6 wickets. John collected a pair, falling to Australian paceman John Flood in the first innings and being run out in the second. However he picked up 4 wickets - in the first innings - once more this time including George Meldon, easily the best batsman in the match, for 45. In the County's second innings there were 32 extras, Cochrane was again keeping wicket.
Having qualified as a doctor, he was commisioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1907, but retired in 1913. However he does not seem to have returned to general practice in Cork until 1918. Though he had long left the British Army, he continued to use his military title, rather than his medical one, until his death.
John took part in one of the few war time matches at the Mardyke between the County, most of whom - including John - had military titles - and the Military of Ireland. Played in mid August 1918, almost the last time such a game could have been staged - it resulted in a win for the County by 22 runs. John, described on the scorecard as Captain Hart, came in 7th wicket down failed making 9 and 0. In his first innings he was bowled by a Captain Blackmore, who known in cricket circles as EG Blackmore, was to play a handful of matches for Gloucestershire as an opening bowler after the war. The County owed much to a massive 189* by their No 5 Corporal Hallows aka Charlie Hallows of Lancashire later of England a left hander who scored over 20000 first class runs at an average of just over 40 with 55 hundreds. He remains one of the best batsmen to have played for Cork County.
John's cricket was somewhat more spasmodic when regular matches resumed, but he played a major part in administration. He had two spells as Club Secretary and also played a leading role in attempts to establish a Munster Cricket Union. This was done and it did affiliate to the - at that time - short lived Irish Cricket Union of the early 1920s. Though well into his 40s, John did turn out for the County against Dublin University between 1926 and 1929. In College Park in 1926, he was 0* in his only innings in a side which included another Lancashire player, the former captain AH Hornby. Hornby, son of better known AN "Monkey" Hornby, whose eccentric ideas about batting orders probably cost England the Test Match of 1882 and so created the Ashes legend, had settled in Cork where he remained for almost 20 years, playing for the County into his 60s and fox hunting with great enjoyment. The match was drawn, John picking up two wickets, including, in the second innings, that of George McVeagh, his most illustrious victim.
Another match was played at The Mardyke later in the summer, a high scoring affair; it was decided over a single innings each with over 800 runs being scored. County emerged victorious, John taking two further wickets. His best match in this period was, however, the game in College Park the following summer, even though the hosts gained a commanding victory. John's five wickets in the match included McVeagh, in the second innings, and other internationals in PAM Thornton, Bill Loughery and future high power diplomat Colville Deverell. He also made an undefeated 14 in the first innings. His last match came in 1929, when he again captured Loughery's wicket.
His one match for Ireland v Cambridge at The Mardyke in 1904 has already been mentioned. The Irish selectors decided to choose rather dissimilar sides for the two games with the Light Blues, that selected for The Mardyke suffered further from no fewer than eight withdrawals, including players of the calibre of Sir Timothy O'Brien and Oscar Andrews. In addition six players, who would have made the side far stronger were omitted, they included Tom Ross, Bill Harrington and Sep Lambert. It was thus almost an Irish 2nd XI which faced a Cambridge side with nine of the team which had narrowly failed to defeat Oxford less than two weeks before. Unsurprisingly, Ireland went down by 5 wickets never recovering from being bowled out for 121 in their first innings. John at 7 was playing well when he was caught at mid on of the fast medium bowling of Eric Mann, a good all rounder who captained Cambridge the following year. Ireland made a better show with the bat in their second innings, but not so John who was yorked by the paceman Paul May for a duck. Incidentally, putting a more normal side into the field at Rathmines for the second match, Ireland recorded an innings victory.
John Charles Hart was fortunate to have won an Irish cap when one considers the many superior players who have never been so honoured. He was no more than an average to good club player. However he gave much of his life to Cork County, both on and off the field, and for that, he deserves to be remembered with gratitude.
Edward Liddle, January 2010