The inaugural First-Class game for the Nottingham club was played in 1826 when they challenged a combined Sheffield and Leicester Eleven on 24, 25 and 26 July. The match was played on the Darnall New Ground in Sheffield. The result was a resounding defeat for Nottingham by an innings and 203 runs and the major cause of this disaster was the batting of Thomas Marsden, a 21 year-old Sheffield man who scored 227, batting over eight hours. One verse from a long poem on the match goes:
Oh, Marsden, at Cricket, is nature’s perfection,
For hitting the ball in any direction,
He ne’er fears his Wicket, so safely he strikes,
And he does with the Bat and the Ball what he likes.
Marsden was destined to have a brilliant career and, though he never repeated his incredible 227, he did score 125 against Nottingham in 1828.
Nottingham batting first made 101, with Marsden’s fast under hands taking 4-51 and George Rawlins taking 5-45. The Combined team then lost four wickets for 71. At this point, Marsden joined the Leicester batsman, Thomas Gamble. The pair added 205 for the fifth wicket, but after Gamble was dismissed, for 61, Marsden carried on and on until finally being caught and bowled by Tom Barker. It was at the time the third highest innings ever recorded and, considering the strength of the Nottingham bowling, undoubtedly the greatest innings played up to that point. Sheffield were bowled out for 379 with William Clarke 5-161 and Barker 4-156. Nottingham were then skittled out for 75 with Marsden grabbing a further four wickets. The attendance at the match was estimated at 30,000 for the three days.
Peter Wynne-Thomas, the Notts CCC archivist, decided to number the Notts First-Class players from this initial First-Class fixture played by Nottingham. The Nottingham team that played at Darnall therefore constitute numbers 1 to 11 and were T Barker, P Bramley, W Clarke, J Dennis, C Goodall, C Jarvis, G Jarvis, J Kettleband, G Smith, G Thorpe and R Warsop. The Nottingham club played 13 First-Class matches from 1826 to 1834 and then another two fixtures in 1848.