Robert Tolley’s introduction to the county was not what he might have hoped for – he was dismissed without scoring in each innings of the XXII Colts v Nottinghamshire game of April 1867! It was four years before he got another invitation, this time to represent the XIV Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire against the First XI when he did enough, a useful innings of 27, to gain a place in the county side.
His First-Class debut, therefore, came against Gloucestershire at Clifton in August 1871, when he made 6 and 9no. A defensive right-hand batsman who could bowl both fast and slow round-arm, Tolley played 30 First-Class games, all but three in the County Championship, until leaving the game in 1878. He had two First-Class fifties, both against the Gloucestershire of the brothers Grace – 54 at Trent Bridge in 1871 and 53, also at home, in 1877. His other First-Class matches were two for Notts - v MCC in 1874 and against the 1878 touring Australians – and for North v South in 1877 at Prince’s in Chelsea. This latter was virtually North v WG Grace, the Grand Old Man scored 261 out of 459 for the South and then took 11 of the 20 North wickets!
Tolley’s First-Class career produced 556 runs at 12.63, 54 being his highest score, with 20 catches; he bowled very infrequently at that level and took no wickets. Away from the county game, Tolley played for the influential Nottingham Commercial club, serving as captain for several seasons from 1880. In his first recorded match for Nottingham Commercial he scored 63 versus Wirksworth and v Lincoln in 1872 hit 116; he also made a half-century (51) for them in the 1868 match against the Aboriginal Australians.
Robert Tolley was born in Radford on 14 March 1849 and died at Mapperley Park on 2 January 1901.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 131