Trent Bridge is, rightly, famous around the world as one of the truly great cricket grounds but – as October’s meeting of the Nottingham Cricket Lovers Society (NCLS) heard – cricket is by no means the only sporting activity to have taken place there.
Indeed, the first international match played at Trent Bridge was a football match between England and Ireland in February 1897, fully two years before the first Test Match!
As Steve LeMottee – Heritage Officer at Trent Bridge – told the meeting, England won the game easily, beating Ireland 6-0; no Nottingham players were in the home team which included three representatives from the long-defunct Corinthians FC. Apparently, more than 10,000 people watched the game, more than could be accommodated (or expected) for cricket at that time.
The last football match played at Trent Bridge was a meeting between Notts County and Aston Villa in 1910.
If other team sports like football, rugby and hockey might seem fairly obvious candidates to have shared Trent Bridge, Steve had plenty of unlikely examples in a not-quite-full alphabetical list that ran from Archery to Zip Wiring.
Among the more macabre were pigeon shooting, sparrow shooting and rabbit coursing – animals do not seem to have had a great life expectancy in 19th Century Nottingham sports – with less gruesome activities including athletics, baseball, cycling, golf, lacrosse and an ‘entertainment’ of Australian Sports.
This latter was part of the first tour by an Australian cricket team to England when an all-aboriginal side played Nottingham Commercial at Trent Bridge. The interval between innings included some conventional running races and such things as ‘boomerang throwing’, ‘spear throwing’ and ‘dodging the cricket ball’, in which one member of the aboriginal team evaded a ball thrown at him by a ring of spectators. Hindsight makes this sound distinctly out of place but these ‘entertainments’ were a part of that tour in 1868.
Coming rather more up-to-date, Steve LeMottee showed a flyer for what was a local version of the popular television ‘Superstars’ competitions of the 1970s. A number of sportsmen from a variety of disciplines competed in a series of races and trials under the sponsorship of local firm John Player and the Nottingham Evening Post. The winner, to delight of the NCLS in 2022 and no doubt the home crowd in 1979, was Notts legend Clive Rice.
This was the first meeting of the Nottingham Cricket Lovers Society for the present close season and members were given a calendar of talks throughout the winter, including sessions on: Trent Bridge in WWII; Looking back with the Double Winning side of 1987; Floodlit cricket; the Racecourse Ground, Derby; and the 1912 Triangular Test Tournament. Players such as Dennis Amiss and Notts CCC president Baharat Hassan will also give talks.
Membership of NCLS is £15pa or entry on the night for £5 per session. Full details of the 2022/23 programme from email@example.com.