After the glory of the Championship season of 1936, Derbyshire had problems in 1937.
The main one was injuries, with their two leading strike bowlers Bill Copson and Tommy Mitchell both being hors de combat for a fair part of the season. Copson had an array of little niggles, including a spell of illness and a knee problem, while Mitchell broke both a finger and a thumb. Although George Pope played more often than had been the case on the Championship season, most of which he missed with a knee injury, the attack lost its balance and spearhead.
Nevertheless the side managed to finish a creditable third. Denis Smith was just short of 2,000 runs, Stan Worthington made nearly 1800 while George Pope scored 1318 runs and took 92 wickets for good measure.
At Edgbaston early in the season, Warwickshire scored over 500 against Derbyshire, their international pairing of Bob Wyatt (232) and Tom Dollery (128) putting us to the sword.
When they arrived in Derby on July 19th it was a different game, although it looked a good wicket. When captain Alan Skinner won the toss he hoped for early life and asked the opposition to bat first.
Bill Copson was fit and began the attack from the Nottingham Road End, while youngster "Dusty" Rhodes (father of Harold) was given the cherry at the old pavilion end. Younger readers should note that the square has been turned around since those days...
Bill usually bowled downhill because of his greater speed and in his first two overs removed opening batsman Hill and the man who replaced him, Santall. The former was caught close in, with the second being clean bowled. After five overs he had 3-5, opening batsman Norman Kilner being caught by the captain. When Alf Pope replaced Rhodes after four wicketless overs, he bowled "Vic" Buckingham, a hard hitting batsman and then bowled Wyatt for 231 less than he had made at Edgbaston.
In Bill's seventh over he bowled Jimmy Ord, batting at number seven but a good batsman and the visitors hopes were pinned on Dollery, the remaining batsman of any consequence. Copson's eight over saw him bowl Dollery with the fifth ball and then repeat the feat with the final ball of the over.
After a maiden over by Pope, Bill took his hat trick by clean bowling Bill Fantham and with his next ball he did the same to Eric Hollies, the latter a very fine bowler but the stereotype number eleven. The Derbyshire bowler had taken four wickets in four balls and finished with the extraordinary figures of 8.2-2-11-8.
Alf Pope took the other two for five runs in four overs and the talk at lunchtime was what might have happened had he (or brother George) been given the new ball instead of the youngster Rhodes!
Warwickshire were all out for 28, with Copson taking his wickets with the ultimate combination of speed, swing both ways and lift.
When Derbyshire batted they hit hard, aware of the fact that there was more than a little in the wicket. Les Townsend made 52, Rhodes made 58 and numbers ten and eleven, Mitchell and Copson hit some fine shots in scoring 21 and 30 respectively, Bill's unbeaten innings containing seven boundaries and being a season-best.
There was still time for Warwickshire to start their second innings and Copson bowled Kilner with his second ball to extend his figures to five in six balls, then he bowled Santall for the second time in the match to finish the day with six wickets in thirteen balls.
Although Warwickshire battled hard on the second day, Hill making a century and Dollery 98, they were all out for 291 with Copson finishing with 3-82 (11-93 in the match). Tom Mitchell leggies were rewarded with 5-80 and Derbyshire were left needing just 93 to win. These were knocked off before the close for the loss of five wickets, all of them going to veteran seamer Joe Mayer who finished with match figures of 10-122 but on the losing side.
I'm sure that all Derbyshire fans would love to see Charl Langeveldt replicate those figures on Thursday - just as long as the end result is the same!
(Photo shows Bill Copson -right - with fellow Derbyshire player Stan Worthington - left - on the way back from the 1936-7 tour of Australia. The England squad visited the Selznick studios in Hollywood and they are awaiting the autograph of Hollywood legend and cricket fan Douglas Fairbanks Jr - with cigarette)