The late 1820s were the time of the greatest rivalry between the Nottingham and Sheffield Clubs. It is a pity that no minute books or other specific details of the ‘Nottingham Old Cricket Club’ appear to be extant. The few press details indicate that a proper Club existed; a notice for the 1828 home match states ‘The following are the eleven who were appointed by the Committee…’ It was also clear that the ‘Old Club’ was a county eleven, rather than one chosen from the Town. Another press notice of the same time: ‘We think the Old Club might obtain several efficient players from the minor clubs in the Town, without taking the heroes of the country ones, who in these matches (v Sheffield) seldom do much’.
Sheffield issued a challenge to the Old Club in 1828 and William Clarke replied that they would play either on the same terms as 1827, or at a venue midway between the two towns, or at Lord’s. The matches would be played for £500.
The two matches were in fact played on the same terms as in 1827; Sheffield won both matches with Tom Marsden once more the dominant figure. On the Forest he made 32 and 125 and took 7 wickets; at Darnall he made 31 and 32 with 3 wickets. The match on the Forest was played on 1, 2 and 3 September. Sheffield made 113 and Nottingham replied with 102 (William North 27). Sheffield in their second innings were bowled out for 220. Nottingham, requiring 232 to win, were 71 all out losing the contest by 160 runs. Three weeks later, Sheffield won by seven wickets; Nottingham 99 and 83; Sheffield 96 and 88-3.
The great contest of 1828 was Leics, Notts and Yorks versus England at Darnall in September, the match being arranged by WH Woodhouse of Sheffield. Nottingham provided four representatives – William Clarke, Tom Barker, George Jarvis and Emanuel Vincent. It might be described as the first ‘North v South’ match. The two leading exponents of the new round-arm bowling, Jem Broadbridge and William Lillywhite, both from Sussex, proved too skilful for the men of the Three Counties, who were all out for 60 and 32 as England won by 242 runs. The England batting was in the capable hands of Fuller Pilch who, with 49 and 56, was the leading scorer in both innings and, indeed, scored more than all his opponents combined.