Counties - Media Guide to the Grounds
Essex (Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend-on-Sea) by Paul Hiscock
During the winter of 2007, Essex CCC exchanged contracts with development partners MCD Developments and Chelmsford Borough Council respectively which will clear the way for a planning application to be made early in the new year of 2008, and the redevelopment of The Ford County Ground site and its stadium. This proposed development as suffered as a resultant to the economic downturn in the last couple of years.
It is proposed that most of the existing stadium will be rebuilt, with the ground capacity increasing by around 2,000 to 8,000 spectators. New residential, retail, hospitality and banqueting facilities, together with an exciting and vibrant entrance piazza and river bridge to Central Park will provide a much-needed regeneration of the ground. There will be a new multi-storey car park to replace the existing surface car parking at New Writtle Street, and the new Ashwell Graham Gooch Cricket Centre will provide state of the art practice and coaching facilities.
Subject to a satisfactory planning permission being received next year, initial works could start in a year but the 2008 and 2009 seasons will continue to be played at The Ford County Ground. However, home cricket in 2010 will be taken to various out-grounds around the County whilst the major work is completed at the site. The stadium development is scheduled to be completed in December 2010 and will be fully operational for the 2011 season.
There have been a number of rumours concerning the venues to be used during 2010 with the latest suggesting that a park ground in Chelmsford could be used to stage certain matches whilst Colchester and Southend will continue to host their annual festivals and maybe additional fixtures.
That news will cause grave misgivings for any brave soul who has had the misfortune to visit to Garon Park, (or barren Park as it has become know to Essex aficionados) While Southchurch Park brought complaints from players and officials about poor facilities, spectators loved the famous old ground (Australia’s 721 in day in 1948 and all that) which was just a short walk from the seafront. The county upped and moved inland to an exposed and bleak location that must be the only place in England where vegetation actually died last year as the soulless and windswept surrounds did nothing to advertise the merits of a bracing day at Southend. More akin to a suitable backcloth for the Survival series of programmes.
Note to all journos, if you know well in advance that you have been assigned to report on a match here, then a worthwhile suggestion would be to try and use your powers of persuasion to switch your assignment with an unsuspecting colleague.
Just a note to state that because the Third Umpire now requires a room, the Press Box capacity at Chelmsford has now been reduced to a comfortable capacity of 8 although it probably could accommodate uncomfortably.
Then again, the sight of a steady flow of spectators entering and exiting the portable loos in full of view of the ground is not something that can be witnessed everywhere – fortunately! It’s not the only sight for sore eyes at this endearing oasis in a corner of the county.
There is also the off-putting thought of having to spend a day or more in the company of Messrs Fuller and Hiscock although even that dynamic and lovable old duo have been voted as more delightful than the ground itself. I know that’s hard to believe but I kid you not! If you still cannot be deterred from making a trip to the venue, then ensure that you bring layers of coats, hand warmers, and particularly binoculars as the illustrious Press facilities (incorporating tent but no phone line) has been stationed some distance from the boundary edge and at a position of mid-wicket. Should weather be poor make sure you visit the excellent museum at the rear of the pavilion in a portacabins adjacent to the Boundary Club Office and Club Shop.
And to think I moaned about being at Chelmsford at 10.30 at night for a Twenty20 floodlit match!
Leave M25 at Brentwood exit (Junction 27), onto A12 and follow signs to Chelmsford, then eventually pick up A414 into Chelmsford (Ongar Road, London Road) take B1007 (Moulsham Street then New London Road, turn left into New Writtle Street and entry to ground car park is clearly marked and on right-hand side. Public transport from station – Only 0.5 miles from Chelmsford Station 35-40 minutes from London Liverpool Street.
Car parking arrangements – proximity to box, need to pre-arrange (if so, with whom), etc – Need to contact ECCC Communications Officer, Greg Lansdowne on 01245 254002 for space allocation. The press box is rather small but comfortable with excellent viewing accommodating 12 people. Name and number of PA contact/local paper contact – Paul Hiscock 07957 223114. Name of scorer (Rating out of 10 for helpfulness) Comments – Tony Choat (10/10), his first year on a full-time basis but most helpful. Name of PR contact is Greg Lansdowne as above and mobile 07960 901649 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Telecom arrangements in box – Only The Times phone available. Power arrangements in box – plenty of power points. Heat/cold/light/environmental – Newly installed opening windows have improved ventilation, some outlook affected by tinted windows whilst new windows have clear glass. Perennial problems – None. Does the ground have wireless Internet: yes – ask Greg for details. Useful numbers (IT support/garage/doctor, etc. – Contact club for numbers. Nearest place to buy newspapers/batteries etc – On sale from Club shop within ground and in shopping centre in close proximity of ground.
Food/drink arrangements in the press box – the club kindly provide sandwiches and crisps at lunch and a bar of chocolate at tea. Plenty of soft drinks plus tea and coffee are always available throughout the day. Local boozers for lunchtime relief - plenty within a short walk of ground. Local sandwich bars/delis/supermarkets – wide choice of eating establishments including Marks & Spencer within short walk of ground.
Places to stay – hotels/bed & breakfasts with tel numbers/ratings out of 10. Comments – Miami Hotel 01245 264848 or South Lodge 01245 26456 or County Hotel 01245 455700 or Beechcroft Hotel 01245 352462.
Pubs – where, what, why (why not), expensive/cheap? – Wide choice in City centre Restaurants – ditto – Plenty to choose from in City Centre. Cinemas/theatres/concert halls/live music/nightclubs, etc. – available in Town Centre and Brentwood Centre, 12 miles drive away, also stages concerts with star names. Nearby golf courses – Five Lakes. Swimming pools/gyms, etc. – Esporta Gym adjacent to ground.
From A12, stay on A12 (London Road) (east) at Tollgate Roundabout take exit fro Colchester town centre (A1124) continue on this road to junction with A133, take A133 (Colne Ban Avenue, then Cowdray Avenue) turn right into Catchpool Road. Public transport from station – From either Colchester Town or Colchester North Railway Stations (both from London Liverpool Street) the distance to the ground is less than one mile.
Car parking arrangements – proximity to box, need to pre-arrange (if so, with whom), etc – available on ground but contact Greg Lansdowne (see instructions for Chelmsford Ground). Description of press box- Tent with no facilities at all. Telecom arrangements in box – none. Power arrangements in box – none bring a spare backup battery for your laptop! Perennial problems- lack of power and telephone lines – have to work off mobile telephones. Useful numbers (IT support/garage/doctor, etc.) – contact club for assistance. Does the ground have wireless Internet – ask club for details. – Not at all. Nearest place to buy newspapers/batteries etc – in club shop on ground or in town centre.
Food/drink arrangements in box – none previously available although it is understood that the club are providing light refreshments this year. Local boozers for lunchtime relief - Plenty of pubs in town about ten minutes walk away. Local sandwich bars/delis/supermarkets – plenty of choice available in town
Places to stay – hotels/bed & breakfasts with tel numbers/ratings out of 10. Comments – Five Lakes Hotel Golf & Country Club 01621 8688888, The Marks Tey Hotel 01206210001.
Pubs – where, what, why (why not), expensive/cheap? – In town. Restaurants – ditto – Le Talbooth, The Lemon Tree. Cinemas/theatres/concert halls/live music/nightclubs, etc – in town centre. Local sights worth seeing on a rainy day/summers night? – Contact Colchester Tourist Information Centre 01206 282920. Nearby golf courses – Five Lakes.
Places to stay – hotels/bed & breakfasts with tel numbers/ratings out of 10. Comments – Five Lakes Hotel Golf & Country Club 01621 8688888, The Marks Tey Hotel 01206210001.Pubs – where, what, why (why not), expensive/cheap? – In town. Restaurants – ditto – Le Talbooth, The Lemon Tree. Cinemas/theatres/concert halls/live music/nightclubs, etc – in town centre. Local sights worth seeing on a rainy day/summers night? – Contact Colchester Tourist Information Centre 01206 282920. Nearby golf courses – Five Lakes.
Southend (Garon's Park)
Please note that Essex will be playing at the Garon’s Ground having switched from their traditional Southend-on-Sea venue of Southchurch Park where the Australians made 721 in a day in 1948. The ground is rather open and bland albeit the ambience improves as the years go by. An excellent view of the ground can be found from the top floor of the adjacent sportscentre which is air conditioned and is a quiet area for write up on hot days away from the press tent/marquee.
From along the A127 from Chelmsford/London, continue straight through the traffic lights at Kent Elms Corner, keeping to the main dual carriageway at the Tesco roundabout, and then through the lights at The Bell Public House (on your left). You will then come to a roundabout at the junction of A127, Manners Way, Priory Crescent and Victoria Avenue. Take the second exit (straight across) to Priory Crescent, keeping Priory Park on your right. Follow the road around and over the railway bridge onto Eastern Avenue. Continue on to the next roundabout – again, take the second exit (straight across) and follow the road through. At the next small roundabout, at the entrance to Waitrose on your left, take the second exit. You will see Cecil Jones School on your left, and straight after this there is a small roundabout. You will then see SLTC on your left. Take the left hand turn, and follow the road around. Continue to the far side of the building, where there is ample parking. The entrance to SLTC leads from the car park. From along the A13 from London, continue straight along the A13 (London Road) until you see the Palace Theatre on your right. At the traffic lights take the right hand fork, continuing until you see the Cricketers Pub on your right and Nazareth House on your left. Continue to roundabout and go straight across. You will see the back of Sainsbury’s car park on your right. Continue to the large roundabout and take the first exit. This is Victoria Avenue. Continue down the dual carriageway, passing two sets of pedestrian traffic lights. Make sure you are in the right hand filter lane. You will come to a crossroads with St Mary’s Church on your far right. Turn right down East Street, keeping the church on your left. Follow the road around, over the railway bridge, until you come to a small roundabout. Take the left turn onto Sutton Road, with Victory Sports Ground on your left. At the next large roundabout take the third exit (right) onto Eastern Avenue. At the next small roundabout, at the entrance to Waitrose on your left, take the second exit. You will see Cecil Jones School on your left, and straight after this there is a small roundabout. You will then see SLTC on your left. Take the left hand turn, and follow the road around. Continue to the far side of the building, where there is ample parking. The entrance to SLTC leads from the car park.
By Train there are two main lines that serve Southend-on-Sea namely: Liverpool Street – Southend: The journey time is, on average, between 55 mins and 1 hr 10 mins, depending on time of day. Southend Victoria is the end of this line. There is a taxi rank outside the main entrance, and the SLTC is about 10 – 15 minutes ride away and secondly Fenchurch Street – Southend: Again, the journey time is between 55 mins and 1 hr 10 mins. Southend Central Station is the next station after Westcliff Station, but is not at the end of the line. The station is adjacent to the High Street, and on leaving turn left towards the pedestrian precinct. Continue walking down the High Street until you come to Marks and Spencer’s on your left. There is a taxi rank next to Marks in the road on your left.
By Foot or Bicycle: Garon’s Park can be reached on foot from the Liverpool Street line, getting off at the Prittlewell station. On leaving the station, turn left into East Street and follow the road to the pedestrian crossing at the top of the hill. Cross the road and follow it left to the roundabout at the junction with Sutton Road. Cross Sutton Road (there is a zebra crossing to your right). After the crossing go left and turn into Royston Avenue. Follow this road, crossing Bournemouth Park Road and continuing along Royston until it ends at Eastern Avenue. Turn right into Eastern Avenue and follow the road past Cecil Jones School on your left, and cross Eastern Avenue by the footbridge. Turn right towards the mini-roundabout and then left into Garon’s Park. This will take at least 20 minutes at a fast walking pace. Garon’s Park can be reached from the Fenchurch Street line, turning left at the High Street and walking up to the Odeon cinema. Take the path to the right of the cinema and walk behind the building, following it around to the pedestrian controlled crossing at Queensway. Cross and follow the road around to the right, to the pedestrian controlled crossing of Victoria Avenue. Cross and turn left. Follow Victoria Avenue all the way past the Civic Centre, and towards St Mary’s Church. At the traffic lights next to the Church, turn right into East Street and follow this road to the roundabout at Sutton Road. Cross Sutton Road (there is a zebra crossing to your right). After the crossing go left and turn into Royston Avenue. Follow this road, crossing Bournemouth Park Road and continuing along Royston until it ends at Eastern Avenue. Turn right into Eastern Avenue and follow the road past Cecil Jones School on your left, and cross Eastern Avenue by the footbridge. Turn right towards the mini-roundabout and then left into Garon’s Park. This will take at least 40 minutes at a fast walking pace.
By Bus: Garon’s Park is served by First buses no.’s 27, 27A and 27B running from the Southend Central Bus Station to Garon’s Park (please note that the 27B does not go directly to Garon’s Park, but passengers must alight in Eastern Avenue and cross the footbridge). Southend Central Bus Station is situated off Southend High Street, and is access from the train stations as follows: From Southend Victoria: On exiting the station by the right hand exit, turn right and immediately cross Victoria Avenue via the light-controlled crossing. On the other side, bear left around the curve and cross Queensway at the crossing. There is then a small mini crossing – after this turn left and walk behind the Odeon cinema, following the curve into Southend High Street. Walk up the High Street, continuing until you come to Marks and Spencer on your left. Turn down the road at the side – York Road – and in front of you is the Bus Station. From Southend Central: On exiting the train station via the right hand exit. Outside the station turn left up Clifftown Road and walk up into Southend High Street. Turn right and continue until you come to Marks and Spencer on your left. Turn down the road at the side – York Road – and in front of you is the Bus Station. As of 24th September 2004, the 27 and 27A run Monday to Friday every 20 minutes; the 27B runs Sundays only, 1 per hour at approximately half past the hour.
PLEASE NOTE: timetables are liable to change, and it is recommended that the current times and route are checked before travel by contacting.
Car parking arrangements – proximity to box, need to pre-arrange (if so, with whom), etc – on ground but liase with Greg Lansdowne (refer to Chelmsford section). Description of press box – the usual out ground tent. Name and number of PA contact/local paper contact - Paul Hiscock. Telecom arrangements in box – presume nil. Power arrangements in box- presume nil. Perennial problems – have to presume lack of power and telephone. Useful numbers (IT support/garage/doctor, etc.) – contact club. Does the ground have wireless Internet – ask club for details - no.
Food/drink arrangements in box – same arrangements as Colchester venue. Local boozers for lunchtime relief – unknown as the county have yet to use ground although the venue is some distance from shops and 2 miles plus from Southend-on-Sea sea front – Waitrose is your best bet. Local sandwich bars/delis/supermarkets – not aware of any although may be available in Sports Complex within the Garon’s ground.
Places to stay – Roslin Hotel, Airport Moat House but there are a number of hotels and guest houses in the Southend area.
Pubs – where, what, why (why not), expensive/cheap? – plenty in Southend and Westcliff-on-Sea. Restaurants – ditto – wide variety in Southend and Westcliff. Cinemas/theatres/concert halls/live music/nightclubs, etc – Plenty available in Southend. Local sights worth seeing on a rainy day/summers night? – A nice bracing walk along the seafront wearing your Kiss-Me-Quick hat and eating fish and chips out of a newspaper should attract a number of new acquaintances and enlighten the evening! Really - Southend boasts the world’s longest pier and the weirdest nightclubs! Nearby golf courses – Course on Garon’s site. Swimming pools/gyms, etc. – Available in Garon’s Leisure club on site.