Arguably the most momentous moment in Sussex’s history did not play out in the middle at Hove or Lord’s.

In fact, there was not a blade of grass or set of stumps in sight as a simmering battle for the very soul of the oldest first class county came to the boil in spectacular fashion 20 years ago on Sunday.

The plush surroundings of The Grand hotel in Brighton was the setting for something which was unprecedented in the normally sedate world of county cricket.

Fed up of the mediocre fare they were being served up at the County Ground more than 1,000 members hauled themselves out of their deckchairs and decided to take matters into their own hands.

They could accept the fact there had been no silverware since a Friends Provident Trophy success in 1986 but when six capped players were allowed to leave over the winter the alarm bells started to ring.

Headlines screamed ‘Revolution’ as the committee which had been culpable for the decline in Sussex’s fortunes resigned en bloc at the club’s AGM in the face of wave after wave of criticism and ill-feeling from members.

Current chairman Jim May admits he still gets a tingle when he recalls that momentous night when people power made it clear they were unwilling to accept being perennial under-achievers and put Sussex on the path to a golden era.

It may have been skipper Chris Adams that lifted the county’s first Championship title in 2003 under the astute guidance of coach Peter Moores and powered by the runs of Murray Goodwin and wickets of the magical Mushtaq Ahmed.

But without May, pictured, and his fellow revolutionaries, Dick Holste and Tony Piggott that glorious day in the sun when a wait of 164 years finally came to an end may never have come to pass.

May, who is due to step down as chairman at Sussex’s AGM next week, said: “I remember one of the leading people at the club said as a smaller county we would never win anything and I just felt that with that attitude we would never get anywhere.

“We might have just drifted along so I suppose you could say we gave the club the kick-start it needed. Since then the success has been incredible and I feel proud to have played a part in that.

“My ambition was for Sussex to do better as we seemed to be stuck in a rut. Morale was very low. I had considered standing for the committee before but the thing that convinced me was when Robin Marlar spoke out.

“He was an ex-captain of the county and a flamboyant character. I heard him on TV blasting how terribly Sussex was run so I rung him up and said that it was time for him to put up or shut up.

“He agreed to stand and then Tony came on board too so a real head of steam developed to have a regime change. There were 1,000 people inside the Grand when you would normally get 100 but we still couldn’t tell what was going to happen.

“We didn’t realise the mood of the meeting was so strong. The membership were normally quite genteel but they were very stirred up.

“I moved to not accept the chairman’s report which the committee were not prepared for. There were a lot of angry people speaking with emotion and Frank Horan (club doctor) accused us of rabble rousing.

“He stormed out and then the whole committee resigned. We were left with the amazing situation of being the only people left on what should be a 12-man committee. It was an electric evening.

“I spoke up for what I felt was right and thankfully I got overwhelming support.

“When the committee resigned there was a feeling of euphoria but it was mixed with ‘what do we do now?’. We were really excited to have a mandate to change but we also realised the massive job we had taken on.

“Robin took over as chairman and Dick became treasurer. Then Tony was appointed chief executive.

“He dismissed Desmond Haynes and appointed Peter Moores as coach and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Twenty years and 11 trophies later Sussex supporters should still be grateful the likes of May had the courage of their convictions on that era-defining night at The Grand.