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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Nicholas Coddington
  • Born 24 June 1828, Crawfordsburn, Co Down
  • Died 29 August 1917, Oldbridge, Drogheda, Co Meath
  • Educated Cheltenham College, Dublin University
  • Occupation Officer in Royal Meath Militia (Major and Honorary Lieutenant- Colonel)
  • Debut 4 June 1868 v CC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 1
  • Style Right-hand bat
  • Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, NICC, West Gloucestershire CC, Vice Regal Gentlemen of Dublin, United England XI United Ireland XI

John Coddington came from a long established "Ascendancy" family that had settled in Ireland in the early 17th Century with extensive estates in Meath. Coddington was a tall and powerfully built man, his physical characteristics plain from a photograph taken in old age. Like others of his family he had a distinguished record of public service, though it is to be assumed that his duties were never too arduous as, "Have bat will travel," seems to have been his watchword for the summer months. He was a good opening or upper order batsman, whose seemingly small scores must be seen in context of poor wickets and the fact that several of his innings were played against some of the best professional bowlers of the day.

He was three years in the University XI, though this did not advance his career greatly as a shortage of opponents limited them to around three matches a season. However from 1851 to 1862 he appeared for Phoenix in most of their matches against major opposition. His first match was one of his best. The club went down by 136 runs to I Zingari, but Coddington, at 4, with 13 and 23 made the hosts' only double figure scores. In 1853 he made 53 run out v the United England XI to lie on a total of 202 and victory. In the same year he appeared in two Gentlemen v Players matches staged in Dublin. These were promotions by Lawrence but were one-sided affairs as apart from Lawrence and Peter Doyle, the Players were soldiers of the Garrison. Coddington made 70 in the second match, his highest score of which records have been traced. In 1858 he appeared for Lawrence's United Ireland XI v XXII of Dublin, scoring a second innings 48 to set up a 60 run victory.

He appeared in some English cricket also. In 1854, presumably because of his Cheltenham connections, he played for West Gloucestershire CC v the All England XI. This club was captained by Dr Henry Grace, father of the famous brotherhood, who opened the batting with Arthur Pocock, his brother in law, who was the only coach WG ever had, apart from his mother! They both failed, as did another Henry Grace, the eldest son. Coddington's 15 was the top score, watched, no doubt, by the six year old WG. This match got Coddington a game for the United XI v XXII of Rochdale. The locals were reinforced by two of the best bowlers of the day, Crossland (Yorkshire) and Billy Buttress (Cambridgeshire) who were too much for him. Billy, who missed many matches because of his fondness for beer, must have been sober on this occasion.

Coddington's first match for Ireland was the first now recognised as an official Irish fixture. Against the Gentlemen of England, a weak side to say the least, it was his most successful. At 3, he made 23 and 6 not out to help Ireland to victory in a low scoring match. He was one of eight Phoenix men in the XI. He also top scored v Birkenhead Park in 1858, with a first innings 18 at 7 and 16 in the second. Otherwise he had only one other double figure score. These statistics do not include his scores in matches where more than 11 players a side were involved. He played in three such matches scoring 54 runs at an average of 9.00 he reached double figures in both innings (17 and 12) v the United XI in 1856, falling to John Wisden, still eight years away from founding his Almanack, in both innings.

Coddington's younger brother Arthur (1840-88), Superintendent of the Irish Ordinance Survey Department, was also a cricketer. He played for MCC V Gloucestershire in 1868 and the scoresheet read: AB Coddington c GF Grace b WG Grace 0 - c Abbot b EM Grace 0. Arthur could claim to have made one of cricket's more distinguished pairs!

John Coddington died aged 89; having been three times married and fathered his last of several children when approaching 70.