Durham Cricket History
Durham Cricket’s history began when it was established on 23rd May 1882, and they played their first match at Chester Road cricket ground, Sunderland, on 12th June 1882 when they defeated Northumberland by 4 wickets.
Durham were Minor Counties Champions a record equaling nine times between 1900 and 1984 although they became the first minor county to defeat a first-class county in the Gillette Cup in 1973 when Yorkshire were beaten in that competition.
Between 1976 and 1982 Durham created a record of 65 minor county matches without defeat, which still stands to this day. In March 1989, the Durham County Cricket Club committee decided to begin procedures to apply to become a first-class cricketing county club.
After just less than three years, the Test & County Cricket Board awarded Durham Cricket first-class status in 1992. Durham became the first county to be granted such status for 70 years.
A new ground
Between 1992 and 1994 Durham had a nomadic existence with no proper home venue, although they by this time had established players of the calibre of Ian Botham, David Graveney, Wayne Larkins, Paul Parker, Geoff Cook, Dean Jones and Simon Hughes on the playing staff.
Detailed planning approval was granted in April 1993 for Durham Cricket to create their own ground with visions of Test Match and International Cricket being staged in the North-East of England. The cricket ground strategic master plan was prepared by Newcastle architects Ainsworth Spark Associates and it involved the development of some 6.3 hectares (14.9 acres) of green field land. Of the 6.3 hectares, the cricket playing area covered 2.1 hectares (5.2 acres). Work on the outfield and playing surface began in 1993 and this included the construction of a high quality “cricket square” in readiness for the beginning of the 1995 season.
The ground was laid out during early 1990 and during this initial period when the ground was being worked on the former Minor County power Durham staged home matches around the county at numerous out venues. For a period, the county club’s headquarters was in Houghton-le-Spring, although they did not play any fixtures there as it was just an administrative headquarters. The grounds used included the following venues from 1992 the County’s first season in first-class cricket; Gateshead Fell Cricket Club, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne home of Northumberland County Cricket Club, Sunderland Cricket Club, Darlington Cricket Club based at Feethams which is still used regularly, Hartlepool Cricket Club, Stockton-on-Tees Cricket Club, Chester-le-Street Cricket Club situated in Ropery Lane, not far from the Riverside complex and finally at the delightful Racecourse Ground at Durham University close to the River Wear.
The ground was built in three specific phases between 1995 and 1997. Stage 1 included the enclosure of the ground with walling and landscaping, and the provision of permanent administration offices for the county cricket club, players and spectators’ facilities in one unit of the western stand. Stage 2 included the provision of further facilities into more units of the western stand, including banqueting, conferencing, souvenir shop, offices and further spectator facilities. Finally, Stage 3 included the completion of the whole scheme.
The first matches in our new home
Durham’s first first-class match at the Riverside was on 18th to 22nd May 1995 against Warwickshire with the visitors winning. The majority of the buildings at the Riverside initially were temporary and in 1995 saw the construction of the Pavilion and Members Stands. These include the administration offices, players’ and members’ facilities and Austins a restaurant, which is open all the year round plus the Durham County Cricket Club Shop. The Don Robson Pavilion was opened by HM the Queen on 13th October 1996 and in September 1996 the Durham Cricket Academy was formed to nurture young cricketers from County Durham into the first-class game.
The headquarters of Durham Cricket since 1995 has been the Emirates Riverside which has been improved year on year since 1995 by the eighteenth and newest of the county cricket clubs. To such an extent that on 20th and 27th May 1999 when World Cup matches were staged by Pakistan v Scotland and Australia v Bangladesh and then in 2000 the Durham Cricket was rewarded by the England and Wales Cricket Board with the first limited-overs One-Day International in the NatWest Series between West Indies and Zimbabwe and England and West Indies on 15th and 16th June 2000. In 2001 a match between Australia and Pakistan was due to be staged by was abandoned due to adverse weather in the North-East of England at 1.55 p.m. without a ball being bowled, the match had sold out with 12,000 crowd expected.
Austins Bar & Bistro
In June 1999 Austins Bar & Bistro was opened at the ground – this offers excellent dining facilities at affordable prices for all occasions throughout the year. On 28th to 31st August 2001 England Under 19 hosted West Indies Under 19 in a Test match which was drawn and then in August 2002 Emirates Riverside hosted England Ladies v New Zealand and Indian Ladies in the NatWest Triangular Tournament. On 4th July 2002, a match was staged between England and India which again suffered from poor weather during the evening session of the BSkyB floodlit televised fixture and finally in 2003 the Riverside ground hosted its First Test Match in the npower Series in June between England and Zimbabwe.
The Media and Education Centre was officially opened at the NatWest Series One Day International between England and Australia in 2005.
The Club won its first piece of silverware in 2007 after the Dynamos beat Hampshire Hawks at Lord’s in the Friends Provident Trophy final. In 2008 Durham Cricket won the LV County Championship and the Second Eleven Championship, both for the first time in the Club’s history. The first eleven went on to retain the Championship title in 2009 and then won it for a third time in 2013. The following year, Durham won the 50-over Royal London One-Day Cup in 2014.
In 2010 the Club signed a ground-breaking sponsorship agreement with Emirates Airlines, with the company committing to be Main Club Sponsor, including stadium naming rights, for six years. A ceremony unveiling the new ground name, after a nationwide competition open to the public for their suggestions, was held on Friday 4 June where it was revealed that Durham Cricket’s ground would be re-named Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground (Emirates Durham ICG or Emirates Durham).
In 2016 the Club and Emirates extended their contract for another seven years and on the Tuesday 23rd February it was revealed the ground would be re-named Emirates Riverside.
In 2022, Durham Cricket Riverside ground renamed Seat Unique Riverside in new ground naming rights deal. Durham Cricket have been in partnership with Seat Unique since 2021 when they partnered as the Club’s Official Hospitality & Premium Ticketing Partner and having enjoyed a successful first year of working together, the two parties agreed the Ground Naming Rights partnership from May 2022.