The Footballing Cordners (first published in the Town Crier)



Recently in the Town Crier we read about Collingwood great Gordon Coventry, part of that famous footballing clan from Diamond Creek. Another famous footballing family with links to Diamond Creek, and its surrounds is the Cordners.


Not all of the Cordners hail from Diamond Creek their origins being from Sandhurst up Bendigo way. Not all played football in this area, but many identify them with Diamond Creek, and adjacent areas.


Let’s have brief look at the footballing exploits of the Cordners.


Dr Ted (Edward Rae) Cordner senior was the footballing patriarch of the family. He played twice for Melbourne, then a further 60 games for the long defunct University side.


Harry Cordner, was the younger brother of Edward Rae. He played 40 VFL games, appearing for both Melbourne and University.


Dr Ted (Edward) Cordner Junior was the son of Edward Rae. He was the elder brother of Denis, Don and John.  His career for Melbourne saw him appear 52 times in the seniors.


Dr Don Cordner is possibly the best known of the family. He turned out for Melbourne 166 times. The 1946 Brownlow medalist also played in two premierships with Melbourne as well as captaining, and being president of the club. He is the only amateur to ever win the Brownlow.  He is named in the back pocket for Melbourne’s team of the century.


Denis Cordner had an amazing debut in 1943. On leave from the Royal Australian Navy he was flattened five seconds into the first term of this first game. Intriguingly he did not play a senior game again until 1948. He, like his brother Don, is named In Melbourne’s team of the century.


John Cordner, only played one season with Melbourne, however he performed strongly on the cricket field. A left arm fast bowler of some note he played 3 times for Victoria, also appearing with Warwickshire in English county cricket.


David Cordner was a forward with Melbourne. He played 58 games kicking 67 goals, during the 1980s. His career included one season in Sydney. He was the son of Ted.


As well as his brother, and sons, Edward Rae had two cousins, Laurence Ormaston (Larry) and Joseph Alan (Alan) Cordner.  Alan did not turn out for the Demons, he wore the Blue and white hoops of Geelong, as well as the vertical black-and-white stripes of Collingwood in a 23 game career. He was one of those Australians killed on the beaches at Cape Helles on April 25, 1915. His half-brother Larry played a match in 1933 for Hawthorn. He also played three first-class cricket matches for Victoria.


With the advent of the women’s football league we now have Harriet Cordner. She is the granddaughter of Don creating history be being part of the first grandfather-granddaughter combination at the highest level. She plays with Melbourne, the fourth generation of the family appearing in the navy blue and red.


Dr Ted Cordner (senior) set up his Diamond Creek medical practice in 1922. He travelled throughout the region visiting patients, firstly on motor bike, then in a T model Ford. He covered a wide area from Mernda, up to Kinglake, then down to Eltham. Dr Cordner later moved his practice to Greensborough, though not before his sons Denis and John were born in Diamond Creek.


For many years Dr Ted Cordner was the main, at times, the only, GP north of Heidelberg.  After World War 2 his son Don commenced medical practice in Diamond Creek. Over many years Dr Don Cordner was a much loved GP, serving the Diamond Creek Community.  One amazing story re his devotion was during the 1950 finals series when he was delivering a baby at 1PM, scarcely over an hour prior to playing football. None the less he arrived at the MCG to take his place in the Melbourne team. Finally in 1992 Dr Don Cordner retired. By that stage medical services in the area had developed in line with the expanding communities.


Cordner, like Coventry, is a famous name in Victorian football. Both these marvelous footballing families have strong links with the communities in the northern outskirts of Melbourne. Footy, it’s great mate!





  1. The Cordners were also a famous family at Melbourne Uni Blacks – Harry & Ted in the early 1900s (although strictly speaking played for University in those day) and their sons Ted jnr, Denis, Don and John.. The next generation saw Chris, Ed and Ian all play for the Blacks.
    Denis has the distinction of playing in 2 VAFA grand finals (under the old challenge system) AND 2 VFL Grand Finals in 1948 – after playing for Blacks in the VAFA finals the following week he played for Melbourne in the drawn VFL Grand Final against Essendon and then the following week in the replay – 4 Grand Finals in 4 weeks and 2 Premierships

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