The Saffrons, Eastbourne
My first visit came to Sussex as a youngster on holiday with my family. We stayed at Polegate and as well as the standard family summer holiday visits my father suggested my mother and young brothers explored Eastbourne whilst we had an afternoon at the cricket. Nottinghamshire were playing Sussex with Hadlee and Rice bowling in tandem. The other highlight was seeing Long Ashton hero Chris Broad (father of Stuart) who had moved from Gloucestershire to Nottinghamshire with some success. I recall Eddie Hemmings bowling. My memories of Sussex cricketing heroes is vague. I need an evening with Geoff’s whisky and Wisden collection to find more details although if memory serves me right Sussex were no match for Rice and Hadlee who seemed to be moving it both ways off the seam.
Little did I know that in years to come I would have a few opportunities to play on this ground. Those childhood memories left the return as a bit of a disappointment with the wicket definitely not up to county standard. A return in the crowd last summer for a Sussex one day game suggests things have improved.
The Recreation Ground, Bath
This ground is right in the city centre of Bath. You can hear the cheers and groans as you go shopping on the main street. It doesn’t have the charm of some of the other out grounds next to the rugby ground but it does have an eager and enthusiastic audience. They reckon the walls of some of the houses were peppered by Gilbert Jessop sixes playing for Gloucestershire against local rivals Somerset a few years back. The marks are still there apparently.
My last visit coincided with Martin Milford’s pal Stuart MacGill playing for Nottinghamshire. It was a cold afternoon where he was wishing he was elsewhere. His banter with the crowd on the boundary was great. He enjoyed some of the stick the West Country locals were giving him with a few glasses of cider inside them.
On another occasion I sadly missed a pal of mine decided a day out at the cricket in Bath would be perfect. He hadn’t accounted for the weather. Gradually the supporters disappeared off to the station as the rain fell. Ross and Richard decided it was probably good to have a pint before they headed off to the station. The beer tent was lacking a bar man so they took control carefully noting their dues. One pint turned into three or maybe even four. They disappeared off to the station with a touch of a stagger having not found anyone to pay!
Hopefully cricket will return to Bath so that I can revisit this ground.