Captain – George Parr

During the winter of 1859/60 John Johnson took on the task of Honorary Secretary of Nottinghamshire CCC. During the next nine years he effectively re-created County Cricket in Nottinghamshire.

During the 1840s, a rudimentary County Club was struggling to rise from the structure of the Nottingham Old Club, but by leaving Nottingham in 1846 and taking the best players with him, William Clarke all but killed off the delicate plant and, for a decade, it came to life only at irregular intervals.

Johnson was generous both with his time and his money. It is probably no coincidence that the tenancy of the Trent Bridge Inn and its cricket ground changed hands in 1858/59. Mr Wildey, who had taken over when John Chapman decided to move to Gainsborough and set up as a vet, seems to have had little interest in cricket. But his successor, the jovial Joseph Hickling, if not much of a player – he seems to have been almost as broad as he was high – used to umpire in local matches and at least co-operated with John Johnson in improving the ground and its facilities.

There were few, if any, provisions made for spectators, apart from various tents which were erected for specific events and a long wooden hut-cum-stand on the north side of the ground. Johnson organised the building of a single story brick pavilion to act as dressing rooms and dining room for cricketers. The new pavilion was situated directly behind the Trent Bridge Inn (ie away from the road and facing the pitch) and pulled down when the rear extension to the pub was built in the 1930s.

Three matches were arranged for 1860; the two principal ones being home and away against the Surrey club. Immediately prior to the match at the Oval, the Notts team went to Sheffield to oppose XVI of Sheffield. Rain prevented any play on the second day and resulted in the match being drawn. Lord George Stanhope played for Notts in this match and in the home game with Surrey. He was presumably qualified for Notts through owning property in Gedling and Radcliffe, though he usually resided either at Bretby Hall near Burton on Trent or his London address at 33 Grosvenor Street. Until he succeeded to the title Earl of Chesterfield in 1866, he was MP for South Notts. He caught typhoid fever at the same time as the Prince of Wales, whilst both were staying with Lord Londesborough in 1871. The Prince recovered, but not the Earl.

The Notts team travelled directly from Sheffield to London, where they beat Surrey by 15 runs in a very low scoring match which lasted two days, no batsman reaching 30 and the highest of the four team totals being 107. John Jackson received some well deserved ‘talent’ money for his 9-49 in 35 overs in the second innings, which gave him 15-73 in the match. Fred Lillywhite commented: 'this exciting contest brought together an immense assemblage of spectators, and a very fine display of cricket ensued, particularly interesting during the two hours previous to the conclusion of the game’.

After such a close match the return at Trent Bridge was anticipated with much enthusiasm. The match was staged through the enterprise of Mr Johnson, but the report states that George Parr, after receiving an amount in subscriptions, took the remaining responsibility and must have realised a fair sum, as the weather was favourable and the match continued up to Saturday evening – matches were nearly always arranged as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday or Thursday, Friday and Saturday fixtures.

With George Parr absent from the Eleven, Notts gained a substantial first innings lead, Surrey 109 (Cris Tinley 5-37) to Notts196 (Thomas Lockyer 5-37), but William Caffyn hit 91 in Surrey’s second innings of 247 (Jackson 5-78, James Grundy 4-88); in the end Surrey won by 30 runs as Notts were bowled out for 130 (Richard Daft 44, Caffyn 6-36). Caffyn notes: ‘What enthusiasm there was at Nottingham in those days, to be sure! A huge crowd collected each day on the Trent Bridge. Their cheering and clapping of hands for every bit of good play I can hear now! There was no hotel one could go into in the evening but cricket, cricket, cricket greeted us at every turn. The whole town seemed to have gone mad on the game’.

Tom Davis scored 72 for Notts in the first innings of this match, the highest innings he ever managed in inter-county matches. He was a tremendously hard hitter of the ball and a brilliant field, he used to come in to meet the ball ‘like a bull at a gate’. For his batting in the Surrey game he was given £20 raised by a collection on the ground. In his later years he was employed by the corporation to superintend the cricket pitches on the Forest.

August  2020

Scorecards and stats can be seen here