Park Centre of Cricketing Excellence
cricket infra-structure in south Essex
the annual county cricket festival in Southend was successfully moved
from Southchurch Park, its home since 1906, to Garon Park one and a half
miles to the north. Now, in the most exciting cricket development in
South Essex for years there are plans to develop a Centre of Cricketing
Excellence around the cricket bowl at Garon Park to encourage cricket
development and coaching from grass roots to county level for
schoolboys, schoolgirls and club cricketers and as a local home for
representative, inter and intra district games. The first such games
were played there in 2006.
centre at Southend is different to anything that currently exists in
Essex and hopefully will become a model for further such centres
elsewhere in the county. Together with the enhanced cricket development
facilities being planned as part of the rebuild of the Ford County
Ground at Chelmsford this marks a major investment for the 21st
century in cricketing infra-structure in south and central Essex.
To provide a top quality
cricket facility for all regional developmental and excellence cricket
in the South East Essex area as well as a venue for first class cricket.
Over 600,000 people live in
South East Essex in Southend, Rochford, Castle Point, Basildon and
Thurrock; that is nearly 40% of the population in the whole county.
Southend is the most densely populated region in the county. And most
important the existing Garon Park infrastructure means we do not have
the delays and financial hurdles of setting up a completely new green
The Garon Park site is a
joint venture between the Norman Garon Trust and Southend Borough
Council. It is approximately 35 hectares in size and accommodates a golf
complex, a comprehensive leisure centre built in the 1990s, an athletics
stadium, a golf centre as well as a county size cricket arena with ample
on site parking and room for development. Until 2005 the cricketing
facilities had been largely neglected but the outfield has one of the
best drainage systems in the county and the facility has ample parking
to accommodate large crowds. The overall site has the potential to
become a local centre of excellence for a whole range of sports
including cricket, football, golf and tennis. The Norman Garon Trust and
Southend Borough Council are committed to support the new cricketing
centre and have generously made available the cricket arena and
surrounding area to the Essex Cricket Board for the development of local
cricket. They are also providing some of the finance for capital
improvements to the site. However there is no money available for
run the Centre?
All recreational and
developmental cricket activity in Essex is channelled via the Essex
County Cricket Board (ECCB) which operates through five regional
district boards. Garon Park will become the cricketing centre for the
South Essex District Cricket Board which is the regional board for
Southend, Rochford, Castle Point, Basildon and Thurrock.
The public appeal launched by
the Essex & Southend Sports Trust in Spring last year has so far raised
over £120,000 towards its goal of developing a Cricketing Centre of
Excellence for the whole of south Essex at Garon Park.
The sports charity has
matched pound for pound all donations received from the public and has
made a grant of £30,000 out of the appeal’s funds towards the costs of
setting up the centre in 2006. This has enabled Essex to recruit a full
time groundsman – Phil Burton – to work on the facility and has also
contributed to adding six more performance cricket wickets to the
square. This was carried out in September and means the square at Garon
Park is now similar in size to the square at Chelmsford. Further grants
towards operational expenditure will be made in 2007.
change in the next year or so?
The Essex County Cricket
Board is now in negotiations with both the Norman Garon Trust, which
owns the facility and Southend Borough Council about further
improvements at the new ground. Plans are at an advanced stage for the
ECCB to sign a formal lease covering use of the ground and priorities
for the next stages of development are a permanent fence to separate the
cricket area from the rest of Garon Park all the year round, a new
scoreboard and four caged outdoor nets that can be used by clubs and
schools in the South Essex area throughout Spring, Autumn and Summer as
well as by the professionals during the annual Essex Ford Southend
the longer term?
Feasibility studies are
underway on a number of larger capital projects including an indoor
cricket school, extra toilet facilities and permanent seating. Funding
would be required from bodies such as Thames Gateway and other
government funded organisations. Further investment to construct an
international quality stadium with floodlights has not been ruled out.
The public appeal’s target is
to raise £200,000 towards immediate operational requirements so further
patrons and donations are required. Anyone interested in helping the
cause should phone trustees Joe Sims (01245 471674) or Peter Butler
(01245 360385). Alternatively just send a cheque made out to Essex &
Southend Sports Trust to the Ford County Ground at Chelmsford. Please
make sure you enclose a note with your cheque to confirm that you wish
the donation to be made under the Gift Aid Rules. This will allow the
Trust to recover £22 from the Inland Revenue for every £78 donated.
thanks to the 27 patrons – see panel - who have each contributed £1,500
over a five year period towards the appeal. This works out to just £25 a
month for those who have signed a monthly standing order for five years.
Others are contributing £300 a year whilst some have paid the full
£1,500 up front. Many others have made one off donations from £25 to