Sussex County Cricket Club has played first class cricket at The BrightonandHoveJobs County Ground since 1872 [although it was always known more simply as The County Ground]. Prior to this, Sussex cricket matches were played across three venues in Brighton & Hove – The Prince Of Wales Ground (where Park Crescent now lies), Temple Fields (where Montpelier Crescent) and the Royal Brunswick Ground (between Third and Fourth Avenues in Hove). In 1871 the ground in Eaton Road was acquired and over the winter of 1871-72 workmen built a 6ft wall around the ground, and a commodious inn with space for 100 diners at a cost of £1,924.
The new cricket ground at Hove cost £1,200 to lay, with the turf taken entirely from the Royal Brunswick Ground. The pavilion, which has been extensively rebuilt and developed over the years, is still on its original site and cost around £600 to build. A running path (not a track!), roller-skating rink and croquet lawns were also laid down.
By the spring of 1872 The County Ground was ready to stage its first game, and on June 6th 1872 Sussex CCC played Gloucestershire CCC. The great WG Grace opened the batting for Gloucestershire and scored a paltry 14!
By the time of the first game, Sussex had doubled the cost of membership to two guineas (£2.10 in today’s money) and match admission was one guinea (£1.05) – an amount way out of reach for most working-class people and reflecting the fact that in those days cricket was still regarded as a sport for the upper-classes.
Any Sussex cricket history buffs out there? We’re always keen to hear your Sussex cricket stories and include them in this blog! Contact us here firstname.lastname@example.org