John Cole REEDMAN (1865-1924): Australian sports legend

John Cole REEDMAN (1865-1924)

"Widely regarded as the most remarkable South Australian sportsman to emerge in the first 70 or 80 years of the stateís history, John Cole Reedman captained his state at both football and cricket, played Test Cricket for Australia, and was a champion long distance swimmer."

South Adelaide Football Club



John Cole Reedman

by his grandson of the same name

John Cole Reedman was born in Tanunda, South Australia, on the 9th October 1865. His parents, Edward John and Mary Ann Reedman had emigrated to Australia from England, arriving on the 17th March 1857. In 1867 they returned to Adelaide, and John's father settled down as a brickmaker in Gilberton.

John was baptised in the St Matthews Church of England Parish, Kensington Road, Marryatville on the 28th September 1868, and as a boy he attended the North Adelaide Primary School.

He was later employed by the Post Master Generalís Department as a letter carrier and later as a letter sorter.

On the 8th December 1891 John married Mary Matilda Jane Redman in the Disciples of Christ Chapel, Kermode Street, North Adelaide. They had four children.

John (Dinny) had a passion for sport. In his earlier years he was a champion long distance swimmer, and won many trophies for his prowess in that area. He was a committee member for the Gilberton Amateur Swimming club when it was formed in 1915, and later served as a swimming instructor for the club. Later, his three sons worthily upheld their fatherís name in this respect.

Living on the banks of the Torrens in Gilberton, one of his best and most loved hobbies was fishing, and he took many fine perch from the waters of the Torrens.

It was as a footballer and cricketer that John excelled, and he became well known among the sporting world:

John Cole Reedman (also known as J C Reedman and Dinny Reedman), the Australian football legend

John began playing district football in 1885 with the Medindie club and later with South Adelaide, North Adelaide and West Adelaide. During his football career from 1885 - 1909 he captained South Adelaide for eleven years leading them to 5 premierships, North Adelaide for six years during which time that club won the 1902 and 1905 premierships. In 1908 he was appointed coach of the West Adelaide Football Club and coached them to the premiership and championship of Australia.

John's cricket career stretched from 1885 - 1913.

In 1885 he became a member of the old Triton club. During his career he played for South Adelaide, North Adelaide, State Cricket for South Australia and Test Cricket for Australia.

During Johnís career of District Cricket with South Adelaide and North Adelaide he made a total of 7346 runs (average 38.06) and took 496 wickets (average 19.26). His highest score was 170 for South Adelaide against Hindmarsh.

In the season 1889 - 1890 he was the leading bowler in the State, with an average of 17.30.

John played in the first ever Sheffield Shield match, 16th - 21st December 1892, South Australia against New South Wales at the Adelaide Oval, taking the catch that dismissed Sammy Jones. This was the first catch and wicket to fall in Sheffield Shield Cricket.

In November 1894 John captained the South Australian team, which was the first Australian team to defeat Stoddardís Picked Combination of English Cricketers, South Australia won by six wickets.

John played for Australia in the first test against England in the 1894 - 1895 series. His greatest disappointment was his non-inclusion in an Australian team to play in England.

The title of 'Premier Bowler' in District Cricket was awarded to him on two occasions, viz 1901 - 1902 and 1907 - 1908 when his averages were 10.43 and 13.76 respectively.

At the annual meeting of the South Australian Cricketing Association in 1910, John was awarded life membership for his contribution to the sport and issued with medal no. 798.

John refused many tempting offers to leave the state, because he preferred to play the game for the gameís sake. He was always the friend of youth and felt that his talents would benefit the younger generation, so he took up coaching schools such as Prince Alfred and St Peters colleges.

John's ill health over a number of years put a stop to his sporting career. He was operated on in a private hospital in Gilberton, but he never recovered from the operation, passing away on the morning of the 29th March 1924, at the age of 58 years. He was survived by his widow, daughter, three sons, three grandsons and three grand-daughters, and was laid to rest at the North Road Cemetery, Collinswood.

When the news of his death reached the Adelaide Oval, the flags were lowered to half mast, and the cricket match between East Torrens and Sturt adjourned, with players and spectators standing for a few minutes of silence as a tribute to his memory.

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Memorial drinking fountain

The drinking fountain erected in honour of John Cole Reedman

In John's honour the North Adelaide Football and Cricket clubs erected an ornamental drinking fountain in Creswell Gardens, near the eastern entrance to the Adelaide oval.

John's contribution to football was rewarded when he was chosen as one of the inaugural inductees into the Australian Footballís Hall of Fame.

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Memorial plaque

In January 2005, an information plaque was added to the drinking fountain, summarising the career of John Cole Reedman. It reads as follows:

Dedicated to the memory of Jack Reedman
Laser engraved plague to Dinny Reedman

Laser engraved plaque, courtesy of Peter Vasic whose firm made it. Click for a larger image.

John Cole Reedman, more commonly known as Jack or the colloquial "Dinnie" was born 9 October 1865. He was an outstanding athlete who was regarded as South Australiaís most eminent sportsman of the time. He was Captain of both the State football and cricket teams and also coached both. He was a champion long distance swimmer. He played one cricket test for Australia (in 1894-5) but it was in football that he excelled. He started his football career with South Adelaide in 1888 where he played in 5 premiership teams but transferred to North Adelaide in 1899 when electorate football was enforced.

His career with North Adelaide extended from 1900 to 1907 during which time he was Captain from 1901 to 1905 and played in 3 premiership sides (1900, 1902 and 1905). After retiring he coached West Adelaide from bottom to premiership and to Championship of Australia in 1908. he returned to North Adelaide in 1909 as Captain/Coach.

He was regarded as a wonderful player, popular leader and at all times a perfect gentleman. After his death in 1924, a successful public appeal raised funds for a lasting tribute to his memory and this drinking fountain was commissioned, it is made of Angaston pink marble and was unveiled at a public ceremony in 1929. it was erected on this spot because it was close to Adelaide Oval the scene of so many of Reedmanís sporting triumphs (Adelaide Oval was North Adelaideís home ground from 1902 to 1921) There is an inscription of dedication on the underside of the bowl.

Following representations from one of Reedmanís grandsons, the History Committee of North Adelaide Football Club successfully commissioned the City Council to restore the fountain in 2001 and prepared this text to explain itís significance. The plaque was funded by NAFC History Committee, Peter Vasic and Jackís grandchildren, Brian Reedman, Evelyn Oke and John Reedman.

Jack Reedman was an inaugural inductee to the AFL and SANFL Halls of Fame.

Dedication written on the underside of the bowl of the drinking fountain:

Erected to the memory of the late J.C. Reedman, Captain of North Adelaide Football Club and Cricket Club by the members and sporting friends Sept 7, 1929.

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Webmaster's note

The legendary Australian cricketer and footballer, John Cole Reedman (also known as J C Reedman and Dinny Reedman) was a member of our wider Cole family. He was the son of Mary Ann Reedman (born Mary Ann Cole, daughter of John Cole and granddaughter of our earliest confirmed Cole ancestor, Daniel Cole). Mary Ann and her husband Edward John Reedman emigrated to Australia from Tottenham in 1857. The timing of this piece (July 2004), contributed by John Cole Reedman's grandson of the same name, is particularly pertinent in that the football club which plays at Coles Park (on part of the site of the old family Potteries at White Hart Lane in Tottenham) has recently taken an interest in this website. Photo courtesy of North Adelaide Football Club (

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This website Potteries and brickyards worked by the Cole family is © Pat Cryer. For applications to reproduce text or images, click here.