County Championship – Champions (W 4, L 1, D 1)
Captain – R Daft
The 1871 season saw the close of George Parr’s career. He played in the Easter Colts game and in a match for Notts v 14 County Gentlemen at Trent Bridge at the end of May, scoring 32 not out and 53 in his farewell performance.
The First-Class programme commenced with a four wicket victory over Yorkshire at Trent Bridge at the end of June. Notts had a first innings deficit of 37 runs as they were bowled out for 78 with right-arm fast bowler George Freeman taking 7-30. Yorkshire were then bowled out for 101 and skipper Richard Daft (50 not out) saw Notts safely home. Frank Farrands of Sutton-in-Ashfield made his First-Class debut for Notts in this fixture having match figures of 6-67. ‘A straight, fast bowler, very dangerous at times’ he was elderly for a recruit, being 36. He had joined the Lord’s ground staff in 1868 and remained there until 1908, being the senior MCC professional. A month later, Notts beat Surrey in two days by an innings and 57 runs at Trent Bridge. Richard Daft scored an unbeaten 68 in Notts’ 168, Surrey were shot out for 48 and 63; Jemmy Shaw took 13-58 in the match.
Notts arranged fixtures in 1871 against the recently formed Gloucestershire Club and drew their game at Clifton College at the beginning of August. The star performers were WG Grace with 78 and 55 and Alfred Shaw who had match figures of 10-132. The following week at the Oval, Surrey were thrashed by 10 wickets after being made to follow-on. Daft (92) had the highest score as Notts were 272 all out. Jemmy Shaw had match analyses of 8-123. WG Grace had developed into the biggest draw of the day and when the Western County, led by Grace, came to Trent Bridge in mid August record crowds gathered – 8,000 on the first day and 12,000 on the second. The young maestro did not disappoint, he made 79 out of 147 (Jemmy Shaw 9-86) in the first innings and 116 out of 217 in the second after Gloucester were made to follow-on. This 116 was the first hundred ever made in inter-county cricket at Trent Bridge, but he could not prevent Notts winning by 10 wickets, Jemmy Shaw taking 13-163 in the contest. Tom Bignall hit 96 and Daft contributed 84 in Notts’ first innings of 364. Notts lost their final game by 140 runs at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Yorkshire’s left hander Tom Emmett had a fine all-round match with 8 and 64 not out and bowling figures 5-59 and 8-31.
The press designated Notts Champion County – Yorkshire won only two games and Surrey did not record a single victory, but the two up and coming counties, Lancashire and Gloucestershire, had records second to Notts and were clearly the teams that would challenge Notts over the decade.
1871 was WG Grace’s year. His batting record of 2,739 runs @78.25 was, in terms of runs and average, far in advance of any previous efforts. Daft came second, but with only 565 runs @37.66, though in inter-county matches Daft averaged 65.00 scoring 390 runs. Chief support in the batting came from the Chilwell cricketer, Tom Bignall (302 runs @33.55). William Oscroft scored 48 in seven innings and the promising John Selby, a brilliant athlete, 125 in 11 innings. Jemmy Shaw, arguably the worst batsman ever to appear regularly for the County, hit double figures (11) for the first time; he was the leading bowler (54 wickets @12.96), supported by Alfred Shaw (23 wickets @16.09).
Newcomers to the Eleven included the amateur, Robert Tolley, son of a local silk manufacturer, who hit a stubborn 54 against Gloucestershire at Trent Bridge. William Elliott played in the away game against Gloucestershire – to save expense, according to one report. He was engaged at Clifton near Bristol. A fair all-rounder he never made the grade in county cricket. George Wootton played his final match for the county – against Surrey at Trent Bridge, but was not required to bowl. He retired contrary to the wish of the captain and the Notts committee because he “thought his cricket had left him”. The Sporting Life noted: ‘Such chivalrous conduct is only what might have been expected from such a man as Wootton, and will doubtless be remembered when he takes his benefit’.
George Royle, another local amateur, scored 45 on his debut in the home match versus Gloucestershire. He was one of the mainstays of the Nottingham Commercial Club, being on the Committee and at various times President and Honorary Treasurer. Business however prevented him from appearing at all often in county cricket, though he served on the county committee from 1894 to his death in 1910.
Samuel Jamson, the tenant of the Trent Bridge Inn, did not let the ground lie idle once the cricketers had gone into hibernation. The events during a week in October give some notion of his industry: 2 October – Rabbit Coursing; 3 October – Notts Football Club Athletics Sports Meeting; 4 October – Velocipede Contest; 8 October – Rabbit Coursing.
Due to the match with Gloucestershire, the profit for the year was £347.12s.7d and the credit balance stood at £647.7s.8d. The AGM passed a resolution that a special meeting be held to consider erecting a Pavilion. This meeting was held at James Grundy’s Inn on 25 January 1872. It was agreed to take £400 from the funds and raise the rest of the subscriptions for the building of the Pavilion. An amendment that only £300 be taken from the funds was defeated. This move provoked a letter in the Nottingham Journal signed ‘A snarling cur’. The letter deplored the building of a ‘holy of holies, in which the committee may sit, separating them from the common herd, to be paid for from the sixpences of the cricket-loving townsmen’.
Various designs were submitted for the Pavilion and the one chosen was by S Dutton Walker. It consisted of a two-storey block, roughly square in plan, with, at the front on the ground floor a dining room and, above, a balcony and committee room, at the rear, with the dressing rooms over. Single storey wings gave covered seating on either side of the main block.