Club historian Peter Wynne-Thomas looksback on past Championship meetings between Notts and Derbyshire.
Nottinghamshire have played Derbyshire awayfrom home in 94 first-class matches at four different venues – it should havebeen five, but that's the riddle at the close. The most common venue for thetwo counties is the Rutland Recreation Ground at Ilkeston. The ground was givento the town by the Duke of Rutland, and he expressed the wish that the venueshould be used for county cricket.
Due to the First World War, that didn'toccur until 1925, when Nottinghamshire were the first visitors. Matches betweenthe two counties continued on a fairly regular basis until 1994. Despitenumerous protests, the local council then decided to build both a sports centreand a tennis centre on part of the ground, effectively ending any hopes of countycricket being staged there.
Long before 1925, Nottinghamshire hadplayed Derbyshire on the Racecourse at Derby, the first Notts-Derbys countyfirst-class game there being in 1875. Since then, 33 Notts-Derby fixtures havenow been played on what is presently called the County Ground.
Third most popular venue for the meeting ofthe two neighbours is Chesterfield. The ground, Queen's Park, was laid out tocelebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 and first-class cricketarrived there in 1898. Two years later came Notts initial game.
It proved to be the one notable countyperformance by John Atkinson. Atkinson, a miner from Eastwood, had been takenon the Notts playing staff in 1898 as a left arm spinner. In this particulargame Derbyshire were set 328 in the final innings and reached 101-2. They thenfell apart, all out for 162 with Atkinson taking 4-22 off 10.1 overs. Thefollowing summer he left Trent Bridge, the press reporting that he failed togain a permanent place in the county side purely due to nerves – I think todaythe press would employ the term 'yips'.
Victory in Notts second game, in 1904, was evenmore decisive than the 165-run win of 1900. Derbyshire were embarrassingly allout for 32, another left arm spinner, John Gunn being the architect of thecollapse. He performed a hat-trick and finished with figures of 7-2-19-6. Themargin of victory was 330 runs.
Derbyshire fared even worse in 1907, beingbowled out for 62 and 95. Tom Wass (10-67) and Bert Hallam (8-84) bowlingunchanged through both Derbyshire innings. The win was by nine wickets.
The following summer Derbyshire did achievetheir first victory. It was the turn of Derbyshire's volatile fast bowler BillyBestwick to flourish on the green Chesterfield turf. He took 10-122 and the winwas by 36 runs. The press however noted, 'Notts batting was extremely feeble'.
1913 saw a quite astonishing game.Derbyshire were dismissed for just 30 in 20.5 overs. Tom Wass and JimmyIremonger bowled unchanged through both Derbyshire innings, but Notts stillmanaged to lose by 21 runs. Arthur Morton captured 10-49 for the home side.1914 produced another tight result, with Notts again on the wrong side. Nottswere set 149, but tumbled to 24-4. George Gunn and Jimmy Iremonger then added76, before the lower order failed and the loss was a mere five runs.
The first post-war game was another tightaffair, very much replicating the 1914 ordeal. This time Notts target was 210.The early batting failed and the board displayed 48-4. Wilf Payton and JoeHardstaff managed a partnership worth 95, but again the late comers were a poorlot and the loss was by 23 runs. Arthur Morton for a second time proved toomuch with figures of 13-128. In the Notts second innings he bowled 34 oversunchanged.
The overall tally now stood at three Nottswins against four by those across the Erewash. Notts levelled matters in 1922,winning by seven wickets in two days, Frank Matthews took 9-70. The first drawin the series occurred in 1923. No play was possible until half past three on the second afternoon and not even a first innings decision couldbe produced. Jack Bishop captained Notts in this game, as Arthur Carr wasplaying in the Lord's Test Trial. Nothing odd about that you might think,except that it was Bishop's first-class debut and he was already aged 31.Captain of the Radcliffe-on-Trent side, Bishop came in as, apparently, the onlyavailable amateur. Times were different in those days.
A 16-year break occurred before Nottsreturned to Queen's Park. Due to injury, neither Larwood or Voce were availableand Notts leading batsman Joe Hardstaff was playing against New Zealand in theTest - that's Young Joe, not his Dad, who was on the umpires' panel and hadjust been dropped from the Test umpires' list, not for any misdemeanour, but sothat he was not able to umpire while his son was in the England side.
With a weakened squad Notts lost by aninnings in two days. Tommy Mitchell, the bespectacled leg-break bowler, took 10-125and no Notts batsman managed 50 in either innings. A.F.Skinner, the Derbyshiresolicitor, managed to wangle time off and was his county's highest scorer.Skinner later moved to Nottingham to work for the County Council and turned outin several wartime matches for Notts.
It wasn't until 1966 that Chesterfield sawa Notts side again. Norman Hill, the rotund Notts captain, invited Derbyshireto bat and the total fell to 118-5. However Peter Eyre and Phil Russell added142 for the sixth wicket, quite demoralizing the Notts bowlers who didn't helptheir cause by bowling a series of no-balls and wides. On the second day saw abrilliant innings from Deryck Murray. Going in first wicket down he wasstranded on 90 not out when the last Notts wicket fell. The report noted: "Inhis three hours in the middle he stroked 11 superb fours and hooked a six offHarold Rhodes, that even the bowler applauded. On this sluggish pitch it was aquite incredible display of attacking batsmanship."
Unfortunately Notts couldn't find anyone torepeat Murray's effort in the second innings. Set 309, they lost by 159 runs.
1982 was the year of Notts last appearanceat Queen's Park. Batting first the visitors were entirely reliant on twopartnerships; the first was a predictable 144 by Rice and Birch for the fourthwicket: totally unpredictable was the eight wicket stand of 102 between EddieHemmings and Kevin Saxelby - the latter's 59 not out proved to be the highestinnings of his career.
Derbyshire's total was a solo effort by theNew Zealander, John Wright. He carried his bat for 141 out of 259 all out. Ricedeclared Notts second innings, setting Derbyshire 272 in 114 minutes plus 20overs. A disastrous start, with four batsmen out for 43, left the home countybatting out the overs to save the game.
In summary the 12 Chesterfield games haveresulted in four Notts wins, six Derbyshire wins and just two draws. For myfriends who require something to chew on, a Derbyshire captain lost money onstaging a Derby-Notts game on a venue not yet mentioned. What venue and when?Here's a clue, Arsenal!