County Championship – Champions - W 2, D 5
Captain – R Daft
Despite rain upsetting the programme with two out of three home games being badly hit by the weather, Notts were declared Champions for 1872. Notts’ record was played seven, won two (both against Yorkshire) and drawn five and however modest this seems, Lillywhite's Annual announced: 'Notts fairly holds the championship of the season.' It was a batsman’s year, skipper Richard Daft (324 runs @46.29) led the batting averages and was supported by John Selby (296 runs @42.29), Fred Wyld (321 runs @32.10) and William Oscroft (273 runs @24.82). Martin McIntyre (218 runs @24.22 and 20 wickets @16.50) was team’s all-rounder. Sam Biddulph only appeared twice and Wyld took over behind the stumps (9 catches, 4 stumpings)
Foul weather prevented a ball being bowled in the Easter 1872 Colts Match. Nottingham Forest FC held their Athletics Meeting at Trent Bridge and 5,000 to 6,000 spectators came, with special trains from Newark, Sheffield, Derby, Chesterfield and Lincoln. The three local cricket clubs using Trent Bridge, namely Nottingham Bank, Lace CC and Commercial opened their seasons during the first week of May. On Whit Monday, 20 May, instead of cricket at Trent Bridge, Notts County FC held their Athletics Meeting and attracted about 10,000 spectators.
It was as late as 27 June when Notts finally played their first County match v Yorkshire at Trent Bridge. Jemmy Shaw bowled ‘with deadly effect’; taking 7-35 and Yorkshire were dismissed in their first innings for 76. Alfred Shaw took 6-31 in the Yorkshire second innings of 137, Notts winning a low scoring match by 50 runs. A fresh face in the Notts side was Fred Morley, a 21 year-old seamer from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Baily’s Magazine gives the following notes: “He is a bowler of the bump, thump and pummel order, and possessing – what Southern bowlers, judging from their powers of swallow, possess only on their throats – muscle’. In most teams his left hand batting would ensure last place in the order, but the presence of Jemmy Shaw prevented this. The Sporting Life commented: “He is a very civil fellow, and not at all conceited, in which respect he differs from the other Notts aspirants of 1872’. Morley, in conjunction with Alfred Shaw, formed the most effective bowling partnership in English First-Class cricket for the next few years. As a fast left-arm bowler he provided a perfect contrast to Shaw. In 1872, Morley (24 wickets @17.21) was the leading wicket-taker with a rather expensive Jemmy Shaw (23 wickets @23.87) providing support. Alfred Shaw, who missed three matches through illness, took 13 wickets @11.84.
In mid July rain prevented any play until lunchtime on the first day of the Surrey match at Trent Bridge and then further rain stopped the match at quarter to four. On the second day at half past three a hurricane arrived with Notts on 180-3 (Oscroft 68, Wyld 62 not out). Every tent except the printer’s was blown down; the flag pole snapped in two and most of the trees lost branches, which were blown across the pitch. Water lay in pools and the ladies tent was torn to shreds. The storm was truly alarming and nothing like it had been experienced in Nottingham for many years. Saturday’s cricket was abandoned. The announcement was also made that the away game with Gloucestershire was abandoned – the reason: WG Grace would not be able to play, being in America. However Notts suddenly found themselves with an additional match, when the executive of the Prince’s Ground – the new London Ground off Sloane Street – found that they were unable to gather a representative England team together and changed their planned fixture England v Combined Yorkshire and Notts XI to Yorkshire v Notts. It proved to be an exciting match which Notts won by six runs, the best Notts performance coming from Morley with 9-100 in the match, Notts were led by Jemmy Shaw in place of Daft who was injured. Notts batted first and made 160 with Selby (45) being top scorer. Yorkshire led by 49 on the first innings as Roger Iddison made 69 not out. Wyld made 46 as Notts were all out for 173. Yorkshire needing 125 to win were dismissed for 118 (Morley 5-38), having been 35-6 at one stage.
At the beginning of August Gloucestershire came to Trent Bridge and WG Grace’s presence meant big crowds – about 7,000 on the first day - when they watched a new Notts record being created. Fred Wyld hit the first hundred by a Notts cricketer in a championship game at Trent Bridge. He batted for three hours for 104; on the second day Selby, who had been 46 not out at stumps took his score to an unbeaten 128, when Notts innings closed at 489 (WG Grace 7-162), another record. On the last day the only interest was in Grace’s batting, but 5,000 turned up to see the Doctor make 67 out of 139 all out, including a drive out of the ground for six. Jemmy Shaw dismissed Grace (4-42), as he had done twice the previous summer.
The three remaining matches of 1872 were drawn. At the Oval Surrey staged a quite remarkable recovery. Notts 209 all out with Daft making 78, and adding 147 for the eighth wicket with Martin McIntyre, Surrey replied with 60 all out with McIntyre taking 9-33. Surrey followed on 149 behind and hit 315 in their second innings, through ‘some fine all-round batting and bad fielding’. Notts collapsed in their second innings and were struggling to avoid defeat when time saved them at 107-8. Martin McIntyre’s all-round feat in this game was quite extraordinary. He hit 88 not out and 27 (the most runs in the match) and took 12-99 – he only played at the last minute when Alfred Shaw had to withdraw from the Eleven due to illness. The match at Bramall Lane proved a dour affair which realised only 544 runs in three days; the highlights being Morley’s 6-43 in the Yorkshire first innings and a career best bowling performance of 6-59 in the second innings from Daft.
After the announcement of the cancellation of the Gloucester game, pressure was placed on the Western County and the match did take place at Clifton College starting on 22 August. Both of WG’s brothers EM (108) and GF (115) hit hundreds in the home team’s 317 and at the close of the second day Notts were Notts 179-8 with Daft 61 not out, needing 58 to avoid the follow-on. To assist the captain in making these 58 runs were Fred Morley and Jemmy Shaw. At least so thought Daft, but in the evening Shaw had had a quarrel over a card game, marched out of the boarding house and said he would ‘go and do for himself’. Luckily one of the Gloucester team found Shaw in the morning under a tree on the Downs, and brought him to the cricket ground. Morley helped Daft to add 16 for the ninth wicket, leaving 42 required when Shaw came to the wicket. Daft continues the story: ‘I never in the whole course of my life saw such an exhibition of batting as his was that day. Sometimes he was down on his knees, and then he would come out to drive the ball which would miraculously fly over the head of long-slip. I kept going to him between the overs to tell him to be careful, but every time I did so he coolly told me that he was all right and that he shouldn’t get out; seeming to imply that it was my wicket that would go down, if either did. But directly the requisite number of runs was obtained he collapsed’. Daft made 92 not out and Shaw 9 as 44 had been added for the tenth wicket. Daft advised him never to go to the expense of a hotel bed again, but always to sleep in the open air.
Apart from Morley, three other young professionals played several matches for the County in 1872; Henry Reynolds of Ollerton was a hard-hitting batsman and good field. Thomas Barnes, a powerfully-built young man, came from Sutton-in-Ashfield. He gave promise of developing into a good batsman, but died suddenly the following year of typhoid fever, aged 24. Two matches were played for the benefit of his widow and raised £131. The third colt was John Seaton, a dark-complexioned, civil-spoken man who played in four matches for Notts in 1872. He looked a useful all-rounder. The reason he was not given a further trial possibly rests in the following comment; “He is a good cricketer, and if more amenable to friendly criticism would be better”.
The Easter Colts Match was rearranged for the end of August. In glorious weather, the Colts had the best of a draw, but few spectators attended.
At the AGM it was announced that the cost so far of the new Pavilion was £1,104.1s.2d of which £435.1s.6d was raised by subscription. About 100 new members were enrolled during the year, which brought the total to about 400. The Gloucestershire match again produced the best receipts.
The usual events were staged at Trent Bridge over the winter months, but few football matches; Notts County played most home matches on the Meadows and Nottingham Forest on the Forest, though Notts opposed London at football at Trent Bridge, when some 1,500 attended. Old Bendigo was charged with being drunk and disorderly – throwing turnips at passers-by – and fined 20 shillings; around this time, the former champion prize-fighter took up religion, saying in one sermon, "See them belts? See them cups? I used to fight for those, but now I fight for Christ."