Born in St Ann’s, Nottingham on 24 February 1876, John Collis Snaith was son of John Daws Snaith, a paper manufacturer. He grew up on Bridgford Road near Trent Bridge and attended High Pavement School. He left at age 13 to work as a railway clerk but later attended University College, Nottingham. Snaith was a left-arm bowler and left-handed batsman and an excellent all-round player in club matches - appearing with great distinction for Nottingham Amateurs, Forest Amateurs, Undershaw, Skegness, MCC, Incogniti, Druids, JM Barrie’s nomadic team the Allahakbarries, the Authors and other wandering clubs.
When he played for the Authors, his team-mates included AA Milne; in a match between Artists and EW Hornung’s XI, Snaith formed part of a four-man bowling attack that included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, PG Wodehouse and the then Sports Editor of The Times, Evan Noel. Hornung invented the gentleman thief ‘Raffles’, said to have been modelled on the poet and cricket devotee, George Cecil Ives.
A popular novelist, Snaith wrote 40 or so books some including concerning cricket, the best-known of which was Willow the King published in 1899, which includes a couple of oft-quoted musings on the game that was a passion for Snaith and his contemporaries: ‘Cricket is quite a gentle, harmless game, but he is a lucky man who has not to sweat some blood before he's done with it’; ‘Beside a perfectly-timed boundary hit on a hard ground from fast bowling, all other delights of this life are a nothingness’.
On 13 May 1901, Snaith took 8-17 for Notts Club and Ground v Sheffield United at Trent Bridge, and during the 1898 season took 115 wickets for Forest Amateurs. He played in the Notts Colts XXII in 1899 and played his sole First-Class match for Notts v MCC on 2 and 3 May 1900, scoring 21. He captained Notts Colts v Yorkshire Colts in the following week and then appeared for Notts v West Indians at Trent Bridge in July 1900 in a non First-Class match three-day match, scoring 18 and taking 4-79. This, however, was the total extent of his county cricket.
Between the wars Snaith was regarded as somewhat eccentric and reclusive – Tennyson, another literary cricketing team-mate, writes that he was an intense and introverted man who found it difficult to socialise and generally led a very private life – and living opposite Trent Bridge he was known to harangue passers-by from his bedroom window, especially the crowd queuing to attend the Whitsun match v Surrey or Test matches. His home on Bridgford Road is currently the Blue Camel antique and vintage market and tea shop, which still has something of Snaith's era about it.
John Collis Snaith died in Hampstead Garden Suburb in London on 8 December 1936, aged 60 years.
His brother Daws Walker Snaith appeared in the 1899 Colts match.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 263