The Grand Old Man Of Nottingham Sport

He is often said to have been ‘the Grand Old Man of Nottingham Sport,’ not this Nottingham Sport mind, but the beating heart of the sporting endeavours this fine county had to offer way back when, that is what Walter Roe Lymbery certainly was.

Understandable as well when you look at his own, multi-disciplined sporting record, combined with his age, and for the era in which he found himself, it’s quite easy to see why he was labelled as such.

A founding father of Nottingham Forest, and the club’s first captain, appearing in those formative matches with County in the mid-1860s.

Born in the mid-1840s, Walter Roe, and the Lymbery line, are synonymous throughout the Red half of Nottingham, even his final place of residence, prior to his death in 1925, affirms that, the Lymbery family, and the ‘Grand Old Man,’ were at Sherwood Rise.

A player, a captain, secretary, treasurer, and chairman of the Reds, pre-1900 – Lymbery was club chairman, said to be the second after J.S. Scrimshaw holding the post first, between 1866 and 1868, he was in his twenties, early twenties at that.

Being one of the founders of the Reds, Lymbery was among the starting men who faced County on 22 March 28166, going on to play over fifty games, netting four times.

Lymbery’s first goal for the club came in their third match with rivals County, in the 1-1 draw, on 13 December 1866, but for the Reds’ winner in that first match earlier in the year, it could easily have been the Reds’ first ever goal.

Other goals came against Ockbrook and Borrowash, and Derby Grammar, during the 1871-72 ‘season’ again, opposing Ockbrook, in early 1873.

In dedicating a chapter to the ‘Father Figure’ Lymbery, Forest Historian Don Wright, said in Forever Forest (pp22-23).

“There is no doubt that Walter was influential in the switch from shinney to football. Not only was he one of fifteen young men who met at the Clifton Arms in Sherwood Street in the autumn of 1865 to establish the Forest Football Club but he became the first chairman. Scrimshaw, the covenor, was never elected chairman. Lymbery held that office from 1866 to 1868, when he took over from J/S Milford as secretary and carried out that role until 1886, He was also club captain and, in 1869, effectively became secretary/treasurer determined to put the accounts in order.”   

Said to have “played football until he was thirty-three, cricket until seventy-three, and golf until eighty,” Lymbery certainly kept himself active, and involved, passing seven years after giving up the latter of these sports, but he’d left his mark, as did his family when Lymbery’s son, Harold, wed the daughter of another Red, Edwin Luntley, both he and Walter Luntley, donned the famous Garibaldi, in the 1870s.

The family line is said to have, in the fair city of Nottingham in the early 1800s, be founders of a dynasty of footballers, cricketers, and lace manufacturers, and were instrumental in the founding of both Nottingham Forest FC and Notts Forest CC.

In Harold Lymbery’s diary, he states that –

“Presented to Mr. W R LYMBERY by the Members of the Nottm Forest CC on the completion of 50 years as Hon. Secretary, Treasurer and Captain. April 1921.”

A reasonable guesstimate therefore of the foundation of the Cricket Club would thus put it at 1870 or 1871.

“Walter Roe Lymbery was also a Founder Member in 1865 of Nottingham Forest Football Club, and was the Club’s Chairman and Secretary 1866 – 1868 and its first Captain.”

A ‘Grand Old Man of Nottingham Sport’ indeed.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @NFFC Walter Lynberry a founding member of both Notts Forest Football and Cricket Clubs.

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