It was the most dramatic night in Sussex's history.

Twenty-one years ago, the committee was ousted at the AGM by a members' rebellion, paving the way for an unprecedented decade of success.

But events could have turned out very differently, according to then-chairman Ken Hopkins in a booklet about the audacious takeover.

'Revolution '97' sheds new light on the evening at the Grand Hotel in Brighton when the county was transformed.

Author and ardent Sussex supporter Chris Stonor has spoken to most of the main characters.

Takeover trio Tony Pigott, Robin Marlar and Jim May feature prominently in the 40-page booklet, which also charts the post-revolution rebirth with nine trophies won during the 2000s.

Hopkins reveals the story could have taken a very different course.

Sussex were treading water under late chairman Alan Caffyn. Members grew increasingly disgruntled as leading players departed, including former captain Alan Wells.

Caffyn, realising the writing was on the wall, resigned and Hopkins reluctantly replaced him, just 12 days before the AGM.

Pigott and company had been openly plotting the committee's downfall. Hopkins had been warned by Pigott in the run-up that 'We are going to have a go at you'.

Hopkins says: "While the committee were anticipating some awkward questions they were not expecting the fireworks that happened on the night.

"We did have enough votes in our back pocket to shut down the AGM and meet again at the arranged SGM at Hove Town Hall three weeks later.

"We had enough to win the day. There is no argument about that. This is fact."

Events spiralled out of control as committee member the late Frank Horan stormed out, branding the rebels as 'rabble-rousers'. By the time the meeting was closed by vice-chairman Alan Wadey, the committee had been ousted.

Hopkins says: "If I had wished to remain chairman the evening could have had a very different conclusion.

"I would have adjourned the meeting and move it to the SGM. To repeat, we had the votes to achieve this.

"But to add to the difficulty we had a replacement solicitor covering for our usual attorney who wasn't able to attend. We couldn't turn to him for advice as he had no idea what to do or what the legal implications were.

"In hindsight, it would have been most interesting to know what our usual solicitor would have advised us after Horan had walked out.

"Therefore, the eventual outcome might have been so different, if we had stuck at it.

"While I was on the opposite side when the committee resigned en bloc the rebels didn't have a quorum: they couldn't legally run the club as there were only three of them and a minimum of four people are required.

"So I remained to allow them to achieve this. I could have said bitterly 'No!' and walked away which would have put a spanner in the works.

"Instead I said 'Yes' and in hindsight it was the correct decision. Shortly afterwards Robin Marlar took me out for lunch to thank me.

"The evening went the way it did and I have no regrets. I did what I felt was best for Sussex CCC and I then sat back and enjoyed all the success that followed."

* 'Revolution '97' is a limited edition of 150 copies, each signed by Tony Pigott and former Sussex captain Chris Adams, priced £15.

Copies can be purchased by emailing Nicholas Sharp on, from the museum on home match days and the club shop, All proceeds go to the museum and educational trust.