- Born 9 April 1879 Dublin
- Died 23 May 1957 Putney Heath London
- Educated Beaumont College
- Occupation Army Officer, Civil Servant, Motor Agent
- Debut 20 July 1911 v Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow
- Cap Number 278
- Style Right-hand bat, right arm fast medium
- Teams Co Galway, Co Wicklow, Pretoria, Warwickshire, Northumberland, Devon Dumplings, Devon
William Meldon, normally known as Budge, was the only one of his well known cricket family, to play County Cricket. He was the third son of Dublin magistrate, Sir Albert Meldon. His brother Philip played for Ireland as did two uncles and four cousins. Another brother, James, was, according to Pat Hone in Cricket in Ireland a "first rate player." James played for Beaumont and Dublin University, but, thereafter his career, as an Army doctor, mostly lost him to Irish cricket.
His active participation finished after the First World War, in which he was badly wounded. Budge joined his brothers at the nor defunct Beaumont College, where a tall forcing bat and hostile fast medium bowler, he was a key member of the XI for three seasons. In 1895, all three brothers played for Beaumont v Oratry. This later became one of the schools matches played at Lord's, but this fixture was at Oxford. Philip, at 21, might be thought to have been rather old for the match! He and James did well with the bat, but Budge failed. He did however take 3-68. They could not, however prevent a 75 run Oratory victory, largely because of the pace bowling of future Oxford Blue and Irish opening bowler Gus Kelly, who took 4-41.
Army service took Budge to South Africa where, he played for Pretoria v the 1905 - 06 MCC side. He did well taking 4-76, removing the openers in his first spell. Pretoria, however, were no match for the bowling of Jack Crawford and MCC won by an innings. He returned to the UK in 1907, now described as a civil servant. He was able to find some time for Irish cricket. Here he appeared for Co Wicklow and for Co Galway. He tended to have success as a bowler for the former thanks to a friendly groundsman, who prepared wickets to suit his pace at one end and Philip's leg spin at the other. In one match the visiting - Pembroke - captain called his batsmen in and refused to continue until the brothers had permanently changed ends!
In 1909, playing for Co Galway v Woodbrook, he took a major part in one of the most extraordinary matches ever seen in Ireland, or indeed, elsewhere. The match was at Woodbrook and Galway included five Meldons, to say nothing of their Secretary Joseph, an unmarried uncle, the Club secretary, hovering on the boundary. Winning the toss, Galway made a respectable 235 (Jack Meldon 117*). The South African all-rounder, Bert Volger, most famous of the Woodbrook professionals, took 6-72.
Then Woodbrook reached 350, with Volger scoring 100 and fellow professional Albert Baker, once very briefly preferred by Surrey to Jack Hobbs as an opener, made 82. Budge bowling unchanged, apart from a change of ends, had figures of 33.4 - 4 - 126 10. Volger was not to be out done. He bowled Galway out for 117, leaving Woodbrook only 6 to win. His figures? 14.3-6-41-10. He had scored 116 v NICC and taken 14-102 a few weeks previously. Only four men made double figures, needless to say, three were Meldons. Small wonder Stanley Cochrane found that no Irish clubs wanted to play his side.
In 1909 - 10 Budge played five Championship matches for Warwickshire, besides, in the latter year, returning with them to Woodbrook. In the county matches he had a highest score of 44, scored in his first match v Gloucestershire at Edgbaston. Batting down the order, his innings helped Warwickshire build a score from which the opening bowlers Frank Field, genuinely fast, and Frank Foster, a very good left arm fast medium operator, who bowled round the wicket to several short legs, could win the match. The presence of these two limited Budge's bowling opportunities, but in the next match v Northants at Wantage Road, he gave his best all round performance, as he scored 0 and 33 and took 0-6 and 3-27 to play no small part in a 56 run victory.
At Woodbrook, Cochrane had, of course, assembled a strong side, including R St L Fowler making one of his rare appearances in Irish cricket. Budge made 51 as Warwickshire with hundreds from AFA Lilley and Willie Quaife passed 400 before declaring. Budge's second innings 3-49 helped the visitors gain an innings win. His victims included HH Massie, the 57 year old former Australian captain, top scorer in the famous Oval Test of 1882.
The years 1911 to 1914 encompassed Budge's all too brief Irish career. His debut came against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent in 1911. This was a drawn match because bad weather left Ireland short of time to bowl the Scots out twice. It was notable, though, for some splendid Irish batting. Harry Mulholland, future Cambridge captain, Stormont Speaker, and brother - in - law of Lord Brookborough, made a brilliant hundred on his sole outing for Ireland. When Budge joined Bob Lambert quick runs were needed. Lambert rushed to 103*, while Budge, in about 40 minutes, got to 42* before the declaration on 409/4. He hit six 4s and one huge 6, when he drove Scots paceman Willie Webster out of the ground to bring up the 400. They added an unbroken 109 for the 5th.
Budge's best match as a bowler was his last, in College Park in July 1914. His thoughts may well have been elsewhere with armies building in Europe and Archduke Franz Ferdinand freshly in his grave. However he shouldered the main burden of the attack to take 4/22 and 5/23. Unfortunately, just as had happened at Rathmines in 1912, when Scotland had won by 3 runs, he failed to make a big score. This time the visitors got home with an 11 run margin.
At this time he was living in Newcastle on Tyne, having been a partner in the firm Lord and Meldon Motor Agents at least since the 1911 Census. He began, in a non championship match with a blistering 180 v Durham University. He batted 165 minutes, hitting three 6s and thirty 4s. Later in the season, he destroyed the Oxford University Authentics attack, making 134, with five 6s and fourteen 4s, then followed this with 180 v Durham University.
The biggest match of 1911 though was a 3 day affair against the first All India side to tour these Islands. He took 3-41 to wrap up the Indian tail in the second innings, claiming the wicket of JS Warden, by far the best all rounder in the side, then he top scored, with 34, to see his side home. He was not always successful in the Minor Counties Championship, but hit a magnificent 144 v Cheshire in 1911, besides making two other fifties. In all, he made 563 runs at 23.45 and took 6-87. It is strange that though he was normally used as an opening bat, a position he was not over familiar with, his bowling was virtually ignored.
He was also prominent in club cricket in the area, notably for St George's CC, for whom he hit at least three hundreds. One of these 120 v South Northumberland was a part of a remarkable all rounf feat as he also took 4-15 including the hat trick. Finally in July 1914, just under a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo had sent Europe spiraling towards self destruction, he signed off his cricket in the North East by making 94* for the County Club against The Grange.
Having previously been a Lieutenant in the Inniskillings, he began the War as a Captain in the Durham Light Infantry. He was to reach the rank of Major by 1918. He spent some of the War fighting in Mesopotamia, and, a fact that has to modern ears a depressingly familiar ring, was wounded near Basra.
However, like his two brothers he survived the War. In the 1920s he returned to cricket, though he was not seen in any major matches in Ireland. He played instead for Devon in the Minor Counties, without success, and for the Devon Dumplings, a strong club side with a heavy and demanding fixture list. The club's records are incomplete but he appeared regularly until 1933, making more than 4500 runs, and, despite advancing years taking toll of his speed, taking more than 400 wickets. In 1928 he became he first to score 1000 runs in a Dumpling season. His runs included 3 centuries, the best being 192* v RNC Dartmouth.
Another memorable innings was his 183 v the touring Radley Rangers in 1923 At 47, advancing years for a fastish bowler, he caught the Navy on a drying track at Exeter to take 6-18, helping to shoot them out for 56. Pat Hone claims that Budge also scored 100 hundreds in all cricket. This writer was led to believe that he passed the target during his time with the Dumplings. However no evidence has been found to support the assertion. Research produced some 40, but with a number likely to have been scored in South Africa and for teams whose records probably died with them, it is probably impossible to produce a definitive list. By the late 1930s he was also developing his other interests, being co author in 1936 of a book entitled "Contract Bridge.The Combined Account".
William Waltrude Meldon was married in 1916, his wife Mary being some eleven years younger. Tragically, their only son Philip Reginald Meldon (Royal Marines) was killed in the Second World War. When peace returned the Meldons appear to have divided their time between their London home in Putney and South Africa. When Budge died, leaving Mary £657-16s-6d, two generations of a family remarkable for their prowess in cricket, and much else besides, came to an end.
Edward Liddle, October 2007, Revised September 2009, Further revised March 2012