was this excessive proposal that set in motion a detailed review of the security
of tenure at the ground and a period of claim and counter claim as to what
represented a fair and reasonable rental. The estimate was quickly reduced to
£12,000 once Atkins realised that ECC had not supplied the sports amenities, but
this too was considered unreasonable.
A letter dated 10th July 1998 from Cllr. John Roberts to Cllr. Rodney Bass showed
clearly that the County Ground's position was recognised sympathetically within
the ranks of elected Essex County Council members. He recommended a more
realistic rental, but added a preferred course of action 'to sell the Ground to the
County Ground club at a price based on agricultural rates with a discount to take
into account their (length of) tenancy ..... with Covenants ....to stop .... selling..
..for Commercial development.' Over the next five years Cllr. Roberts proved to
be a true friend to the three constituent County Ground clubs - Cricket, Tennis
and Hockey - and to Brentwood generally, as he continued to canvass support
for their interests.
During 1998 concerns were raised over the declining Junior membership.
Les Mellor in the dual role of Junior Administrator and Club Coach obviously
considered this a personal criticism. After consideration, he decided to continue
solely in the coaching role in 1999. However at the 1999 AGM coaching at the Club
was again brought forward for review. After considerable debate the meeting
endorsed a proposal to reestablish a panel of coaches and so provide members
with choice. Whilst Les voted for the arrangement, he decided not to be a part
of it himself. The Club were fortunate in having Mike Keogh prepared to take
over the Junior group coaching, having previously acted in a support role. Mike
Ellames was added to the list of panel coaches in order to complement Mike
Keogh's role, by providing weekday coaching and support with the Junior group
coaching at the weekends. Kelly Philebrown completed the list.
The AGM also agreed to complete the move to synthetic grass by approving the
Committee's recommendation to re-surface Courts 7 & 8, and the work was
finished by Doe's of Ongar in time for the start of the 2000 summer season - price
£37,800. The end of the century also marked the end of Peter Cracknell's twenty
five years unbroken service on the Club's committee - mostly as Secretary - and
by way of appreciation he was presented with a 'This is Your Life' album.
2000 seems a suitable place for this 'history' to pause, perhaps for another to
add to in the years ahead. Since 2000, further floodlights have been installed,
matches won and lost, social play with teas at the weekend preserved, the School
Link programme extended, the Mini Academy established, but most importantly
the purchase of the County Ground Freehold completed.
Brentwood Tennis Club has come a long way from the days of Mr Hayne and Mr
Earle in l883.