The 19th Century

Essex County Cricket Club was formed in 1876 by James Round. The first home ground was to be the Old County Ground at Brentwood. However the next captain, another great man in the club, Charles Green decided that Brentwood was too inaccessible and remote. He was a key figure in the club moving to Leyton. He felt that this would increase crowds and it would be a better place to play cricket. This was one of the last major steps towards the elevation of the club to first-class status. In their first year in the County Championship (1885) Essex finished joint eighth. Some of the best performances also came that year when they managed 692 against Somerset, Mead took 17-119 in the match against Hampshire and Pickett took 10-32 at Leyton versus Leicestershire. Essex continued to do well and in 1897 they finished third, (this was not bettered until the days of Gooch some 80 years later). In the last year of the century, the highlight was definately Essex beating the touring Australians at Leyton.

Pre 1st World War

1901 will be remembered for batsmen scoring a century in each innings in two matches, and a low-scoring match against Yorkshire at Leyton where Essex only managed 30, their lowest ever score, and 41. In 1904 Perrin scored the highest induvidual score for Essex with 343* out of 597 in a match that Essex amazingly lost. A year later, Jonny Douglas took five wickets in eight balls which included Essex first hat-trick. The early years this century had Essex searching for stablility with five different captains. JWHT Douglas was made the first Essex player to captain England, however the club went through a bad patch financially which ended when Green paid £400 but then resigned as chairman.

The 1920's & 30's

The sale in 1921 of the Leyton Ground to the Army Sports Control Board triggered the use of many more grounds around the county including Colchester, Chelmsford and Ilford aswell as the re-emergence of Brentwood as a first-class venue. This was despite Essex still being allowed to play the majority of their matches there. Also in 1921 Douglas and Hare shared a huge partnership of 251 for the ninth wicket in the match at Leyton against Derbyshire. In 1930 Douglas was drowned in a shipping accident.

The 1940's & 50's

The second world war provided a six year interruption to county cricket with many existing players getting older. Essex had to almost start again. New players such as 'Dickie' Dodds, Doug Insole and Trevor Bailey came in, and this gave Essex a truely post-war feel. However players like Tom Pearce stayed, and Essex ended up with a good balance of youth and experience. This unfortunately didn't come to much as Don Bradman's Australians scored 721 on the first day's play of their tour match at Southend. The start of a new age was confirmed when in 1950 Essex had their match with Warwickshire televised.

The 1960's & 70's

After 33 years of sharing home matches across the county, the need was found for having a stable base. This was the major reason for Essex establishing their present home. One-day cricket and overseas players were introduced and attendences that had been falling started to rise again. More importantly, the financial situation improved, and the club was safe. Players such as Gooch and Lever came in, however after 100 years of the club, Essex were still to win a major trophy. 1978 was a good year for Essex, finishing second in the championship, with many records being broken in the process. It was the best year for Essex so far, but it pailed into insignificance next to the year that followed. The long awaited first title came at Lord's on Saturday the 21st July 1979. This was largely thanks to 120 by Graham Gooch, and 72 by Ken McKewan who shared a second wicket partnership of 124. Many records were also broken in 1979 including the first century in a B&H final, the highest B&H first wicket partnership, and Essex first B&H and Championship wins.

The 1980's

The 80's also started well for Essex, again reaching the B&H cup final, this time falling seven runs short of victory. The first One-day League triumph came in 1981, and in 1983 they reached their third B&H cup final in five years, Graham Gooch hit the One-day League record score (176), and the first International match was played at Chelmsford. Essex won the Championship in consecutive years (1983/1984), they also won the One-Day league in 1984 and 1985, they also won their first NatWest trophy in 1985 and missed out on the treble, losing the B&H cup final. In 1986, Essex won the County Championship again, Gooch was made captain and the Aussie captain Allan Border also joined the club.

The 1990's

The 1990's started well with Essex winning the Championship in two consecutive seasons (1991/1992), however many players soon retired and Essex started especially to miss the bowling of Neil Foster and Derek Pringle. Essex had to once again rebuild, this wasn't helped by the loss of John Stephenson and Nick Knight but the arrival of Ronnie Irani and the emergence of young players helped take Essex to claim several cup competitions towards the end of the 1990s. Overseas player Stuart Law was the County Championship's top runscorer in consecutive seasons, but the team had entered a transitionary period, with emphesis on building for the future, rather than immediate league success.
Date-stamped : 28 Apr2001 - 14:28