DOB: 21 January 1922
Died: 13 May 2009
From: Melbourne Grammar/University Blacks
Number: 21 1941-1950
Premiership Player - 1941, 1948
Captain - 1948 - 1949
Grand Final team - 1946
Best First Year Player - 1942
Best and Fairest - 1943
Brownlow Medal - 1946
Team of the Century member
MFC Hall of Fame - 2001
MFC Hall of Fame legend - 2008
Life Member - 1950
Victorian state representative - 1946, 1948 (c), 1949
150 Heroes selection
The brother of Denis, John and Ted split his early footballing days between playing for the University and studying medicine. Having played the season in an undefeated University under 19's team, Melbourne called him up for his debut in the 1941 Semi Final against Carlton. It was a wise decision, because in his second match Cordner won a premiership.
Playing as an amateur throughout his career he featured in 144 consecutive games from 1942 to 1950 despite medical service in the Navy during World War II, and in that time added the 1946 Brownlow Medal to his earlier best and fairest award. He was the only amateur ever to win the award, and later admitted to only having been able to train three times that year because of his medical commitments. Jack Mueller beat him to the Demons Best and Fairest in his Brownlow year.
Renowned as one of the best followers and defenders in the game. He was named as Ruck/Rover in 1947 and back pocket in the 1949 Sporting Life "Team of the Year". In that time he played 140 consecutive games, ending only after Round 4, 1950 when he suffered a back injury. In 1949 a Brownlow Medal vote was received that failed to distinguish between Don and Denis Cordner, so neither player got the votes.
Retiring as captain before the 1950 season because of the demands of his medical practice, Cordner continued to practice and play football until an emergency situation led to him being exhausted during a finals game. He had been presiding over the birth of a baby in Diamond Creek, and only arrived at the MCG after the baby came at 1pm. He had not had anything to eat and was exhausted by the end of the game. He vowed that he would never do it again and retired. Cordner denied that his retirement had anything to do with an operation to remove a knee cartilage. The club tried to convince him to return for 1951 but he declined.
Cordner was named in the back pocket of the Demons Team of the Century.
He also served as President of the MCC from 1985 to 1992 and was made a life member of both the cricket and football clubs. In his later years Cordner acted as a guide at the MCG. Also served as President of the Diamond Valley League for 20 years.
In 1999 he was named in the Melbourne Grammar Team of the Century.