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Kent v Essex – The Rivalry

Thursday 4th July 2013

Men’s First Team

Kent Spitfires take on Essex Eagles this Friday night in the Friends Life t20 under lights at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence. The two sides enjoy an intense sporting rivalry; those who were watching the Sky Sports coverage of the Essex vs England match at Chelmsford during the past few days might have caught the friendly banter between Rob Key and Graham Napier and their reference to the match.

The key words here are, of course "friendly banter" because this has not always been the case in the fixtures between the two counties. In 1776, a Kent side crossed the Thames by boat to play Essex at Tilbury Fort. The match was never completed and at the end of the day, three Essex men (although not Essex players) were left for dead as the Kent men made their escape by boat.

A letter from a Gravesend man to the London Chronicle and published two days after the affray says :

"A terrible affair happened this day at Tilbury Fort. A great match at cricket being to be played between Kent and Essex, the parties assembled on both sides. When they were met, a man appearing among the former who should not have been there, the Essex men refused playing, on which a battle ensued, and the Kentish men being likely to be worsted, one of them ran into the guardhouse, and getting a gun from one of the invalids, fired and killed one of the opposite party.

"On seeing this, they all began running to the guard-house, and there being but four soldiers there, they took away their guns and fell to it doing a great deal of mischief. An old invalid was run through the body with a bayonet, and a sergeant….. was shot dead. At last the Essex men took to flight, and running over the drawbridge made their escape. The Kentish men then made off in their boats and a search is making after them."

The rivalry between the two counties continues (albeit to a lesser extent!) – so come and back your team this Friday night.

Pre-buy ticket savings are available online until 9am on Thursday night – click here to purchase. Tickets will also be available on the gate.