Captain – G Parr
The Nottingham Review of 15 February 1861 announced ‘A novel cricket match has been arranged on Easter Monday and Tuesday 1 and 2 April between the First Eleven of Notts and Twenty-two Colts – that is Twenty-two who have not played for the County’.
This was the first important step taken by the County Club to improve the standard of the Notts team. Within a few years many counties had copied the innovation and it was to serve Notts well for nearly 40 years, until the introduction of a ground staff of players at Trent Bridge made this annual trial superfluous. Despite this, the last trial was not until 1907. The Notts Eleven volunteered to play without payment and the admission charge was reduced from 6d to 3d. The County completely overwhelmed the Colts, who were dismissed for 56 and 55 – the eleven made 158 in their single innings – but there were several colts that would make their mark in subsequent years, including Alfred Shaw, Tom Bignall and Sam Biddulph.
The match against Surrey at the Oval in 1861 was played immediately following the All England Eleven v United England Eleven match at Lord’s, which Parr’s men won by five runs. Notts were quite easily beaten by 103 runs, Surrey being exceedingly strong. Surrey batted first and made 168, George Griffith making 57 and John Jackson taking 5-77. Notts conceded a first innings lead of 38 despite George Parr and wicket-keeper John Hogg both scoring 31. Surrey mustered 203 in their second innings, Cris Tinley 4-49. Captain George Parr top scored with 36 as Notts were 138 all out, Griffith with figures of 6-46. Batting at No.11 for Notts, and failing to score in either innings was George Wootton, neither did he take any wickets, but Parr reckoned him worth a place and Parr was soon proved right, despite the fact that Wootton was nearly 27 on his county debut. A shy, retiring man of medium height with dark mutton chop whiskers, Wootton was a butcher in Clifton. His chief asset was his accurate left-arm bowling, something above medium pace, but he slowly developed into a hard hitting left-hand bat, who scored mainly by pulling off side deliveries to leg, ‘making many a slow match cheerful through aggressive tendencies’.
In the return game with Surrey at Trent Bridge, played seven weeks later starting on 25 July, Wootton proved Notts’ most effective bowler with 5-25 in the first innings, which restricted Surrey’s lead to 2 runs (136 versus 134), but William Caffyn (7-21) then dismissed Notts for 79 and Surrey had no difficulty in knocking off the 78 runs needed to win by eight wickets. The Reverend Richard Earle, vicar of Edingley near Southwell, was played as a batsman in this game, scoring 15 and 1. He was perhaps the last amateur developed by the Notts County Club of Southwell to play for Notts at Trent Bridge. Another debutant was Cambridge University student William Bury, son of the vicar of Radcliffe on Trent, scoring 12 in each innings. An elegant batsman he was noted as well in the field. One commentator states: “He was a very peculiar runner, but extremely fast between the wickets’.
Two other important matches were staged at Trent Bridge during 1861. The first was Gentlemen of North v Gentlemen of South, in which Notts were represented by Lord Stanhope, Earle and Samuel Watson of Beeston. The famous Walkers of Southgate overwhelmed the North by an innings. The second was George Butler’s benefit game in which Notts played the Next Twenty-two of the County. Soon after this game, the great professional Elevens gathered at Aston Park, Birmingham for a North v South contest, the importance of which was the presence of Mr Mallam, representing the catering firm of Messrs Spiers and Pond. He wished to negotiate terms with the twelve players to tour Australia during the winter. Parr, Cris Tinley, Daft and Jackson, all the declined the offer of £150 each plus first-class travelling expenses. As a result, Notts had no members on this Australian tour.
In November the club’s AGM was held at Samuel Parr’s Spread Eagle Inn, Long Row, Nottingham. The Balance in hand for the club was £165.13s.3d.