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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Clement Kennedy Cordner
  • Born 1833
  • Died 18 August 1905, Greenmount, Muckamore, Co Antrim
  • Occupation Justice of the Peace and Landowner. Land Agent to Viscount Masereene
  • Debut 1865 v United South of England XI at Rathmines
  • Cap Number 75
  • Style Right hand bat; fast right under arm bowler; also Wicket Keeper
  • Teams NICC; Gentlemen of Yorkshire, Lisburn

Clement Cordner was a useful bowler and good reserve wicket keeper, though he appears to have been a somewhat moderate batsman. His main contribution to the history of Ulster and Irish cricket, however, was as one of the founders of NICC and, having been instrumental in keeping the club going when its very existence was threatened, becoming a long serving administrator when his playing days were over. Clement, one of the club's twelve founders in December 1859 and its first Treasurer, also took part in its first match. Together with the professional Thomas Heighes, who was to hold the position for many years, he was responsible for bowling out their hosts, Ballymena, for 24 and 45 and thus gaining a victory by an innings and 78 runs, Heighes also recording the first 50.

It has to be said that Clement's matches against sterner opposition did not always show him to advantage. Thus in three games between XXII of NICC and Charles Lawrence's United Ireland XI between 1860 and 1863 his highest score in five innings was 3, though in the final match, by which time Lawrence was in Australia and the United XIs matches were dwindling, he took 2 wickets late in the innings, having held a catch while keeping wicket, to dispose of the visitors' leading player, the professional Pater Doyle, early on. His bowling was also seen to good advantage later that year when North travelled to Dublin to take on the Vice Regal XI on the Lord Lieutenant's spacious lawns in Phoenix Park. He took 4 wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 99. Unfortunately NICC did even worse with the bat, Clement failing twice.

On the same visit to the capital North took on Na Shuler, also at the Vice Regal, thus providing the opportunity for Clement to have a good all round match. Both sides began by collapsing, North in face of a formidable attack of the old Cheltonian WS Hunt and, one of their own members, AJ McNeile. Clement with 11 was second top scorer with 11, one of the only two double figure scores. He did not bowl in the Shuler first innings but North gained a lead of 10 runs. Batting again they posted 279, Clement failed but there were three half centuries, with the brilliant all rounder Charles Stelfox hitting a masterful 70. As the hosts set off on their task, Clement laid aside his gloves and opened the bowling. He took four wickets, thus playing no small part in a 228 run victory. Always keen to improve his play, he engaged a series of professional coaches to work with him on an individual basis. Among these was the legendary fast bowler John "Foghorn" Jackson.

In 1865 the future of his beloved club was threatened by the railway which was about to destroy the ground by cutting diagonally across it. Some in the club were prepared to give up, but Clement was not one of them. A wealthy man, he may well have contributed towards the purchase of the new ground, Ormeau, thus continuing to make cricket history. The first match there was against Na Shuler with Clement, of course, in the hosts' side. They lost a close match by 4 wickets, but the fact hat the match was played was more important. One of Ireland's most famous clubs had survived.

In 1866 and 1867 he appeared for the Gentlemen of Yorkshire, without, unfortunately, conspicuous success. As he batted down the order and seems neither to have bowled nor kept wicket, he was, perhaps, bereft of the chance to show his worth. His best match as a batsman, of which a score has been seen, came on NICC's English tour of 1867. This had begun in the north east with a match against Northumberland at Newcastle upon Tyne. The visitors were somewhat outplayed, though Clement, run out for 10 in the first innings, had the satisfaction of making, with fellow founder member JM Sinclair, one of only two double figure scores. Then against Cheshire at Chelford, he, for once, went in high in the order. He was normally to be seen at 7 or 8, but in this match came in at 4. He again made second top score, 34 this time with R Watson getting 45. Clement also took a wicket when Cheshire batted but the hosts were too strong and won by an innings. It would be impolite to reveal Clement's second innings score.

Despite these failures in "big matches", he had considerable success in other cricket and was chosen for Ireland (XXII) against the United South of England XI at Rathmines in 1865. He was one of 17 Irish debutants, 12 of whom never played again. This was the first match ever staged at the Observatory Lane Ground and also the first played by the USE XI, formed by players who had broken away from the All England XI, but still containing a number of well known cricketers. The wicket was muddy and the outfield slippery, thus it was no surprise that rain eventually took a hand and caused a draw. USE suffering from sea sickness were bowled out for 59, the match having had a delayed start because of the late arrival of several of the Irish side. However they struck back, dismissing the XXII for 86, Clement, at 10, was bowled by the XI's Secretary and, later, first England captain, James Lillywhite for 3. USE had over 150 on the board when the weather caused the abandonment.

Clement's other match for Ireland was a farce. Supposedly a two dayer against MCC at Lords, it barely got started. Ireland, with HH Montgomery, future Bishop and future father of the Field Marshal, at No 1, had reached 10 without loss when the rain began. The players never returned to the field. Clement did not play for Ireland again, though he continued to appear, fairly regularly, for NICC until the mid 1870s. He was also Secretary for some time in that decade and again in 1883/84. After this he remained closely involved in the Club's fortunes.

A magistrate in Holywood, he lived, for most of adult life, at Greenmount in Muckamore, the site now, of course, the Greenmount Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise. The impressive Georgian mansion has been added to and altered since it took on the forerunner its present role in 1912, seven years after Clement's death, but much of the 30 acres of "Capability Brown style" parkland, which were a central part of the whole 168 acre estate remain as they would have been when Clement Kennedy Cordner took his ease and strolled around his demesne.