Lost grounds, but not forgotten: Andrew Hignell

My Christmas presents this year included the recently-published Britain’s Lost Cricket Grounds, written by Chris Arnot and which – with abundant whiffs of nostalgia and some evocative images – takes a look at a host of grounds which have disappeared from the county calendar.

After delving into this delightful book, I decided to compare the number of venues which will be used in 2012 with the number fifty years ago in 1962.

The provisional fixture list for 2012 includes at the moment (with some venues still to be confirmed) 29 grounds with the vast majority of County Championship games this coming summer being staged at headquarter grounds.

Indeed, five of the nine teams in Division One are set to play all their home fixtures at headquarter venues. Surrey will be taking a game to Guildford while Sussex will be playing at Hove, Horsham and Arundel. With re-development work continuing at Old Trafford, Lancashire will continue to stage matches at Liverpool, while Middlesex will travel to Uxbridge when Lord’s is being used for the Olympics.

In Division Two, however, only three of the nine counties will play all their home fixtures at their headquarters, with six others heading to outgrounds. Derbyshire will visit Chesterfield, Essex will play at Colchester, while Glamorgan will hold one match at both Swansea and Colwyn Bay. Gloucestershire will have their Cheltenham Festival, Kent will play once at Tunbridge Wells, and Yorkshire will visit Scarborough.

Fifty years ago it was a very different picture with several counties staging games at four, five, six or more different grounds. The picture above shows Colin Cowdrey walking out to bat for Kent at Blackheath, and the list below shows the 50 towns and cities which staged matches in the 1962 County Championship but which have subsequently disappeared from the first-class calendar:

Derbyshire – Buxton, Ilkeston.
Essex – Brentwood, Clacton-on-Sea, Ilford, Leyton, Romford, Westcliff-on-Sea.
Glamorgan – Ebbw Vale, Llanelli, Margam, Neath, Newport, Pontypridd.
Gloucestershire – Gloucester, Stroud.
Hampshire – Bournemouth, Cowes, Portsmouth.
Kent – Blackheath, Dartford, Dover, Gillingham, Gravesend, Folkestone.
Lancashire – Blackpool, Southport.
Leicestershire – Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Hinckley.
Northamptonshire – Kettering, Peterborough, Wellingborough.
Nottinghamshire – Worksop.
Somerset – Bath, Glastonbury, Weston-super-Mare, Yeovil.
Sussex – Eastbourne, Hastings, Worthing.
Warwickshire – Coventry, Nuneaton.
Worcestershire – Dudley, Kidderminster, Stourbridge.
Yorkshire – Bradford, Harrogate, Hull, Middlesbrough, Sheffield.

Of course, the cricket world was very different back in the Swinging Sixties, with the County Championship seeing each team play either 28 or 32 three-day games, with each having an allocation of either 14 or 16 home fixtures, compared with eight four-day fixtures as today.

To see a full listing of matches in the 1962 County Championship, please visit http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Seasons/ENG/1962_ENG_County_Championship_1962.html

About Andrew Hignell

Andrew Hignell was born in Gloucester, but raised and educated in Cardiff. He has supported Glamorgan Cricket since the early 1970s and was appointed the Club’s Statistician in 1982 and since 2004 has been their 1st XI scorer. Andrew has a doctorate in geography and taught for eighteen years before becoming Glamorgan’s scorer. Andrew has written over a dozen books on cricket and he is also the Secretary of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians.
This entry was posted in Andrew Hignell, Featured Articles, OpinionAlerts, Statsman, Talking cricket, The Blog and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lost grounds, but not forgotten: Andrew Hignell

  1. Len says:

    A whiff of nostalgia for I time I never knew.

    • Chris Gibbs says:

      Money of course now dictates our nation’s summer game but you have to wonder whether entire generations are being lost to cricket as youngsters have little opportunity to see their counties in action, which for me at least is where it all started.

  2. Lancashire don’t play at Blackpool or Southport this year, but they did last year. They beat Worcs at Blackpool and lost to Notts at Stockport.

    • Paul says:

      True Bandon.True.

      Watching outground cricket at Southport & Birkdale as a child and as a teenager at Liverpool is one of the reasons I have a ‘cricket-problem.’

      County clubs would do well to remember their origins. Lancashire is a diverse and populous county with an interesting demographic. The team is beginning to reflect this but the concentration of cricket at Old Trafford is a shame. I understand the reasons behind the decision but County Cricket is lessened by clubs playing at ‘HQ.’

      Lancashire (I was going to write The County Champions, Lancashire but fear this point has been laboured far too much and for far too long) are at Liverpool for a further four games this year so I shouldn’t complain too much.

      I do enjoy going to Old Trafford but with the teams not coming through the members area wonder whether the experience will be diminshed once the ground improvements are complete.