Defence of Kimberley Medals, Kimberley Rugby Club Founder
Currie Cup Winner, Founder of Kimberley Rugby Club, Founder of Kimberley Athletics Club, Selected for the Springboks, brother of Springbok Sidney “Slapie” de Melker and brother-in-law of Daisy de Melker the hanged serial killer.
Queen’s South Africa Medal with Defence of Kimberley clasp named to J. R. de Melker Kimberley Town Guard
and Kimberley Star named to J. R. de Melker.
John Robert Adolf de Melker is on the Medal Roll for the QSA along with his 3 brothers, A. de Melker, H. G. de Melker and Sidney de Melker – an established Springbok, South Africa Rugby International Player.
An excerpt from TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 6 SEPTEMBER 2017, Posted by: Steve Lunderstedt in Historical, Today in Kimberley’s History September 6, 2017
6 September 1937, Griqua rugby player and administrator JR de Melker dies.
John de Melker (pictured) is not as well-known as his brother, the Springbok rugby player Sidney, nor as infamous as his brother’s wife, Daisy. Nevertheless, he too had a life that was fulfilling and had it not been for an unfortunate accident, would have played for the 1891 South African rugby side. He was selected but withdrew following an accident.
John Robert Adolf de Melker was born in Cape Town on 10 February 1871 to Arie de Melker and Dorothea Jacoba Izabella de Melker (nee Zeeman), and Christened in the Dutch Reformed Church on 5 March that same year.
While still at a young age the family relocated to the lure of the diamond fields and, like his brother, was educated at the Kimberley High Schools. At the age of 14 years he captained the Kimberley Junior rugby team and some ten years later was undoubtedly the top all-round athlete on the diamond fields.
A founder member of both the Kimberley Athletic Club and the Kimberley Rugby Football Club, he represented Griqualand West at rugby from 1891 to 1899, being the half-back partner to Jackie Powell, the famous Springbok rugby player. John was also one of the fortunate few to have won a Currie Cup, this when Griquas won in 1899.
He was a better than average cricket player and at athletics was outstanding, being a champion sprinter. It was a proud boast that he never left a sports meeting without a prize.
It is however, as an administrator of sport and coach of rugby that he should be remembered. For over 25 years he was an active coach with the Kimberley Rugby Football Club (and their Honorary Secretary) as well as at KHS and CBC.
For 20 years he was also the Secretary for the De Beers Athletic sports and was also Honorary Secretary and the Groundsman for the Kimberley Athletic Club.
With his keen interest in schoolboy rugby, he used to repair the balls used in club and provincial matches and issue them to the schools the following season.
He died on 6 September 1937, and when buried in Kimberley’s West End cemetery, a rugby ball was attached to the coffin by silver fastenings (with kind permission from the author, Steve Lunderstedt)
Much is written and a film produced about sister-in-law Daisy de Melker and the story of her trial and hanging for three murders.
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