28. Interest in Sport

This section covers my grandfather’s, Gordon Parkin’s, interest in sport. I don’t recall grandad being particularly interested in sport apart from wrestling on the television! His diaries do not really challenge that impression. However, there are a few references to different sporting events that are of some interest.


As far as I am aware, grandad did not play any particular sports although in January 1922, he did note playing his first game of chess and, in 1943, he taught mum to play. I recall playing chess with him and I inherited his chess set from mum when she died. As far as I recall, he would never let me win but he would play without his queen.

Gordon Parkin's interest in sport
Grandad’s chess set that I inherited from mum when she died

Apparently, my grandmother’s brother, Bert, was a good chess player. I do not recall him as he died in 1961 when I was only one year old. The photo of him below has been labelled by mum that he was a “chess champion of somewhere”.

Gordon Parkin's interest in sport
Grandma’s brother Bert (left) playing chess

Local Cricket

Grandad noted attending a number of cricket matches, many of which featured local teams (see box note 1) and were played on “the acre”, i.e. in Kingsway Park and in neighbouring towns, such as Hucknall. He went with family members including his brother, Cyril, and his brother-in-law, John. Teams he saw included Crown Farm (see box note 2), Kirkby Portland (see box note 3), Mansfield and District Police, Newstead (see box note 4) and Sutton (see box note 5)

[1] There are quite a lot of posts about local cricket on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook group. There are also sections in the books “Kirkby & District from Old Photographs” (pp92-93) and “Kirkby & District: A Second Selection” (pp61-68) by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee, in “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: Yesterday Remembered” (pp9-14) by Gerald Lee and in “Horses, Herbs and a Cockatoo” (pp26-31) and “Christmas Pigs and a Summer Donkey” (pp43-46) by Mark Ashfield.

[2] The name of a colliery in Mansfield.

[3] Still an active cricket team and highlighted by Gerald Lee in his book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: Yesterday Remembered” (p13).

[4] Confusingly, there is a Newstead Cricket Club in Australia! There is a current cricket club in Newstead called Nomads.

[5] The Nottinghamshire History website has quite a lot of information about cricket in Sutton.

First Class Cricket

In June 1921, grandad went to see a cricket match in Nottingham between Nottinghamshire and the touring Australians.[1] I suspect this was at Trent Bridge. Mark Ashfield, in his book “Ferrets, a Tin Whistle and Haircuts at Home” describes missing school for a similar trip in 1932 to see Nottinghamshire play India (pp21-25).

The day grandad went in 1921, the Australians scored 608 for 7 and grandad noted that an Australian player called Macartney had scored 345. Grandad noted the next day that Australia had won by an innings and 517 runs. Indeed, in their only innings, Australia scored 675 with Nottinghamshire only managing 58 in their first innings and 100 in their second. As grandad noted, Charles Macartney scored 345 himself. It was an Australian record score and was the fastest triple century in first-class cricket and the highest score by a batsman in a single day of play. He reached 300 in 205 minutes and the entire innings took four hours.

Gordon Parkin's interest in sport
Charlie Macartney who scored 345 on the day grandad attended – public domain photograph obtained from Wikipedia
Gordon Parkin's interest in sport
 The touring Australian team in 1921 – public domain photograph obtained from Flickr


In December 1919, grandad noted a boxing match in London between Georges Carpentier and Joe Becket with Becket being knocked out in 70 seconds.

Gordon Parkin's interest in sport
Georges Carpentier © John Toohey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Horse Racing

In September 1923, grandad went to Doncaster Races. It is possible that this was for the St Leger.

Motor Racing

During this period, grandad was interested in cars and driving. In September 1920, he noted having a day’s holiday and going to Mansfield and to the Clipstone motor races. Clipstone Drive was the first private road used for speed-trials in England. Located on the Duke of Portland’s Welbeck Estate, this drive provided a straight one mile course and the first trials took place there in May 1900. Various events were held there until 1924. Grandad went there again, in 1922, with Dick Clover.


As far as I know, grandad had little if any interest in football although my understanding is that the entire family “supported” Notts County. My father certainly did although he always said he really supported Mansfield Town! He explained that there was a clear divide between support for Nottingham Forest, from Nottingham itself, and for Notts County, from the county as a whole (but see box). My father would give short shrift to anyone who dared shorten the Nottingham in Nottingham Forest to “Notts”!

Based on what my father told me. I had always understood that people in Kirkby tended to support Notts County rather than Nottingham Forest. However, this may not have been fully the case. Certainly, Jonathan Evans, in his book “The Mystery of Ernie Taylor’s Abdomen“, notes that he supported Nottingham Forest and that, when they reached the FA Cup Final in 1959 (see Chapter 64), some of the shops in Kirkby were decked out in red and white (pp69-76).

It is therefore surprising that the only football match that my grandfather recorded attending during this period was on Christmas Day in 1923 and appears to have been a Forest game. The game was against Chelsea and Forest won 2-0. As far as I can find out, Notts County did not play on Christmas Day that year. They played Arsenal home and away on the 26th and 27th. At that time, it was not uncommon to play matches on consecutive days and the playing of reverse fixtures also appears to have been common practice as Nottingham Forest played Chelsea again the following day. Football matches continued to played on Christmas Day until the 1950s.