Long before shirt sponsorship and ground naming rights, Sussex came up with an inventive marketing idea in the 1980s.
You may remember seeing rather large eggs in egg cups peppered around the ground at that time. Don’t worry, you weren’t hallucinating, it was Hailsham-based egg producers, Stonegate who placed 4, 6ft-high plastic eggs on the boundaries either side of the wicket which were moved to whatever ground Sussex were playing at.
A cash prize was given to any batsman who could hit one of the eggs on the full during a Sunday League match! This innovative sponsorship deal gave both Stonegate Eggs and Sussex some great publicity, particularly during televised games when they were clearly visible on the boundary.
No one is entirely sure if any of the eggs were ever hit, although former Sussex captain Paul Parker is believed to have scored a bulls-eye at Eastbourne during a Sunday League match in the 1980s. Where you there to witness it? Let us know.
When Sussex installed permanent floodlights at Hove 13 years ago Stonegate again sponsored the eggs which this time were placed about 14 foot up the floodlight pylons. Again, there was a cash prize for any batsmen who hit one!
Unfortunately, local residents reacted angrily when they went up claiming they had a negative impact on the landscape. One resident called them ‘a nasty, vulgar fairground attraction.’ Ever seen an egg in an egg cup at a fairground? No, neither have we!
Animal-rights protesters also complained, claiming Stonegate used battery farming techniques. Halfway through a four-year sponsorship deal Stonegate pulled out in 2000 and the eggs came down for the last time. Sussex had forgotten to apply for planning permission so they were saved further embarrassment!
If you’ve got any old Sussex tales to tell, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org