Sussex's Field of Dreams ... book celebrates 150 years of county's Hove home

It is 150 years since Sussex CCC started playing at the spot they still call home today – and their century-and-a-half at their Hove home is now being celebrated in a new book.

During the winter of 1871-72 the Sussex county ground moved one mile northwards from its seafront home to ‘Mr Rigden’s Barley field’.

By the start of the 1872 season it was ready for play, complete with pavilion, pub, surrounding wall, ice rink and turf from the old ground.

In June WG Grace was at the wicket in the inaugural first-class game.

In the intervening 150 years the ground has seen the genius of Fry, Ranji, Tate, Dexter and Mushtaq Ahmed, not to mention Bradman, Warne, Hammond and Tendulkar.

Four triple centuries have been scored and, after a long wait, the County Championship pennant finally flew at Eaton Road. And then twice more for good measure.

The ground today is in rude health amidst a flurry of redevelopment.

The beautifully illustrated book – Field of Dreams – by Patrick Ferriday and James Mettyear – tells the story of those years, both the ups and the downs.

The legendary Ted Dexter in action for Sussex in the Gillette Cup in 1964 / Picture: Getty

In addition, 24 players, administrators, writers and spectators reflect on what the ground means to them.

It is available for £17 inc p&p from vonkrummpublishing.co.uk

As the book’s preface says, the seed for this book had been germinating for the best part of half a century but took root at the end of July 2018 when the authors attended the second day of the pink-ball day-night game against Glamorgan.

The authors were there to see Glamorgan bowled out twice in a day – before the floodlights had been needed, even.

The preface says: “Even though this book is emphatically not another history of Sussex cricket, but rather the story of the ground itself and some of those who people it, the game itself inevitably forms part of the narrative.

"Cricket and money. Finances will be a recurrent topic over the pages. Without money there is no development and no cricket, without money there is no field of dreams, no stage… right from the outset, themes are unearthed which echo throughout 150 years: the need to attract punters, to diversify income, to avoid the covetous eyes of property developers, to attract benefactors...”