County Championship – 10th W2, D9, L5

Captain John Auger Dixon

The season started deceptively well with a win over the MCC at Lord’s; Charles Dench, a medium pacer from East Stoke had a terrific debut, taking 7-28 in the MCC first innings and another two wickets as Notts got home by 43 runs. Dench’s figure turned out to be his career-best.

The encouraging start continued as Sussex were rolled over in the first Championship game, Notts winning by an innings and 74, thanks in no small measure to a captain’s knock of 268no by John Dixon.

Thereafter, things went somewhat awry with only one more win in the season, which was a revenge victory over Sussex at Hastings at the Central Recreation Ground.  That ground is, sadly, no more and in its place is a modern shopping precinct – although there is a statue of ‘The Spirit of Cricket’ in recognition of its sporting past.

That solitary win was sandwiched in a run of eight drawn county matches, several truncated by wet weather.  In the match against Kent at Gravesend, ‘Dick’ Attewell scored his only First-Class hundred, making 102 batting at seven in the second innings as Notts racked up 493 having been required to follow-on. Curiously, Attewell’s skipper, John Dixon had made precisely the same score opening the first innings.

In the next championship game it was Yorkshire that piled on the runs after following on; Notts made 260 and bowled the Tykes out for 139.  The hosts second innings, this match was at Dewsbury, produced 358-9d and Notts were hanging on at 151-8 when stumps were drawn.

The spate of draws ended with the visit of Gloucestershire to Trent Bridge and that man WG Grace made yet another century (126) as Notts lost by three wickets. An even heavier defeat came at The Oval when Surrey, with Bobby Abel making 215, cruised home by nine wickets.

Yet another draw followed against Derbyshire with Billy Gunn’s 230 the highlight. There followed three more hefty defeats – by an innings and 40 runs to Gloucestershire, 56 runs against Middlesex and an innings and 40 runs to Lancashire.

In the Gloucester game, Notts came up against two WGs – the Grand Old Man being joined by his son William Gilbert jnr; the scorecard does not reveal if they actually batted together at any point. 

Tom Oates made his debut in that game at Cheltenham and played for Notts until 1925; he was a wicket-keeper and right-hand bat who played more than 400 First-Class games, claiming 761 catches and a remarkable 232 stumpings in his career.

Despite the poor run of results, two batters – Dixon (44.78) and Billy Gunn (49.35) – averaged more than 40 in the Championship with Shrewsbury not far behind on 38.38.  Charles Dench had built on his debut success to show promise as an all-rounder, scoring 619 runs at 28.13 and taking 18 wickets.

In July 1897, the county came up against one of the era’s great fast bowlers and still probably the best cricketer his country has yet produced.  In a drawn match against the touring Gentlemen of Philadelphia, John Barton King took three wickets in each Notts innings, passing 50 wickets for the season when he had Richard Howitt caught by John Lester.

On the creation of the ground staff at Trent Bridge in 1897, Walter Marshall was given the new position of coach. He retained this post until 1922 when he was succeeded by James Iremonger. Marshall became head groundsman at Trent Bridge, retiring in 1935 when he became caretaker of the Pavilion.

There follows the Committee Report for the year…

Your Committee in presenting the Annual balance Sheet and Report for 1897, have pleasure in stating that the Subscription account shows £2002 3s 0d, against £1745 12s 6d in 1896, being an increase of £256 10s 6d.

The Match Receipts amounted to £1256 6s 8d as against £1782 12s 10d in 1896, being a decrease of £526 6s 2d which is easily accounted for by the unfortunate weather which prevailed at the Sussex, Lancashire, and Surrey Matches, the absence of the Australian match.

The public interest manifested in the game is no way diminished, as exemplified by the augmentation to the Subscription List and the increased amount of Gate money taken at the later matches in comparison to 1896.

Whilst very careful management has been exercised in the spending departments of the Club, nothing that was necessary to keep the property of the Club in an efficient state, has been neglected. In addition to this necessary outlay on existing Buildings, your Committee have expended a sum of between £1100 and £1200 in improvements, which were greatly needed.

A substantial wall has been built on the South and East sides of the ground, thus completing its entire enclosure in a manner worthy of it, and creating an ornament in comparison with the old wooden fencing which previously existed.

In the South-East corner of the ground a Bowling Green has been constructed in the place of a very unsightly piece of land, which had been chiefly used for the deposit of rubbish. This Bowling Green will be ready for use during the coming season.

The Committee have decided it shall be available for Members of the County Cricket Club only, on an extra payment of Ten Shillings and Sixpence per annum, and they venture to hope a sufficient number of members will avail themselves of the use of the Green to enable the Committee to feel they were justified in the outlay.

For the convenience of those using Bicycles two commodious stores have been erected, one near the General Entrance and one near the Main Entrance to the Pavilion. Both stores were well patronised last season and have fully justified their erection. A first attempt to meet the great number of suitable accommodation for Non-Subscribers has been the erection of a Covered Stand on the West side of the Ground, the numbers which patronised it at all the matches was a convincing proof of its necessity, a true sign of how greatly it was appreciated.

Your Committee recognising this, feel the urgent need of erecting further similar structures round other portions of the Ground, from time to time as the funds of the Club will allow.

The Scoring Machine which has been in use some years is felt to be inadequate for present requirements. Mr. Hall the President of the Club has most generously offered to present a Scoring Machine of a new and enlarged design, an offer your Committee have most gratefully accepted, with this gift in view, and considering the position of the present one, is not the most suitable, and further bearing in mind the inadequate accommodation provided for the representatives of the Press and Telegraph Service, have decided to erect another Covered Stand, on the North side of the Ground, over which will be the New Scoring Machine, and the various rooms of the Official Scorers, the Representatives of the Press and Telegraph officials, thus enabling these various departments to be under one roof, an arrangement which they consider will prove of great convenience and benefit.

This erection will also provide further covered accommodation for spectators and will embody the improvements intended to be accomplished during the present year.

In accordance with the paragraph in the Report (presented at the last annual Meeting), dealing with the balance then in hand, your Committee have invested the sum of £357 6s 6d in Railway Stock, in addition to this there remains a Cash balance in the Bank of 313 6s 8d thus making in all a total of £70 13s 2d to the credit of the Club.

Considering the outlay over over £1100 on improvements, a new expenditure of £251 13s 0d on the Club and Ground Staff, and the decrease on the Match Receipts through the causes sated above, your Committee cannot but feel highly gratified with the years financial results.

November 2023

Scorecards and stats can be seen here