The retirement of Essex all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate brings down the curtain on a successful career spanning 19 years with the county as the 41 year-old enters the club’s history books as one of only three captains to lift the County Championship title.

Legends Keith Fletcher and Graham Gooch enjoyed a dynasty of Championship glory with six titles between them from 1979 and 1992 together with several near misses to propel the club forward into one of the most respected outfits in that format of the game.

But an ageing squad plus injuries and retirements took its toll. After one more triumph in 1992, another 25 years went by before the glory days of Championship cricket returned to Chelmsford under the stewardship of ten Doeschate.

He steered the side back into the First Division in his first season at the helm in 2016 and followed up with two Championship titles over the next three years (2017 and 2019) before passing the captaincy over to close friend Tom Westley.

During his tenure he laid the foundations and standards for what is hoped will be another golden period for the club.

Whilst the club, its members and supporters’ content themselves with an anticipated Division Two title this summer, it’s worth recalling one of the golden memories from yesteryear.

The outcome of the 1991 Championship season hinged on the final match of the season when Essex, under the captaincy of Gooch, were pitted against Middlesex at Chelmsford.

The two counties had won 4 titles apiece in the past twelve years and in 1990, Middlesex had pushed Essex into the runners-up spot.

This time around, joining Essex in the fight to be crowned kings of Championship cricket were Warwickshire and Derbyshire.

Gooch typically played a full part in this success. He was the only surviving member of the side that had lifted the county’s very first Championship title in 1979 and now, aged 37, was still in prime form.

Supporting him were the likes of Nasser Hussain and Pakistan batsman Salim Malik. Essex spin twins John Childs and Peter Such tormented opposition batsman with a combined 81 wickets whilst fast bowler Neil Foster, despite a suspect knee, sent down 694 championship overs and was rewarded with 91 wickets.

Colchester-born Foster also took over the role of captaincy when Gooch and Derek Pringle were absent because of England calls.

Essex had beaten Leicestershire by 9 wickets at Grace Road in the penultimate game of the campaign when wicket-keeper Mike Garnham was one of three Essex players to post a century in a first innings total of 621 (the county’s highest total of the summer) with Malik hitting a sublime 196 and John Stephenson, about to take up the position of CEO with Essex some 30 years on, contributing 113.

So, Essex took to the field on 17th September at Chelmsford in their final match with a 12 points lead over the chasing pack and on a green-top wicket, Middlesex were dismissed for 51.

“We knew the Chelmsford pitch was okay, but Middlesex got themselves into all sorts of trouble and made it look a minefield,” Gooch recalled.

He soon showed there were no vagaries in the pitch and together with Malik, 182 runs were added in the afternoon session spanning 31 overs in a demonstration of masterclass of batting.

By the close of play on the opening day, Essex were 385 for 3.

Maestro Gooch progressed to score 259, Malik scored 80, Nick Knight 61 and Hussain 57 before Essex declared on 566 for six.

Middlesex were then dismissed for 307 with Foster finishing with match figures of 10 for 122 as the match ended in glorious autumn sunshine shortly after lunch on the third day.

The success that the County enjoyed that season, with the title secured by a 13-points margin, was very much a team effort. Pringle only played 12 championship matches, often being called away to play for England.

Likewise, Gooch played in only half of the games whilst fast bowler Mark Ilott did not play a single game because of a back injury.

One key non-playing member of the staff who is still an integral part of the club's successes is Stuart Kerrison who was appointed as the new head groundsman in 1991 and is still plying his trade with zealous dedication.

Ever-present Malik was the leading runs scorer with 1,891 Championship runs at an average of 78.79 that included 6 centuries and 8 half centuries, Stephenson contributed 1,234 runs and Hussain one run fewer whilst Gooch totalled 996 runs in the 11 matches he played in the competition.

Foster’s 91 wickets @ 21.98 was followed by Childs with 58 and Don Topley with 53 victims.

Essex won 11 of their 22 games, with 6 drawn.

Hussain (34) took more catches than any other fielder in the country whilst Malik and Paul Prichard pouched 22 and 17 respectively and Gooch maintained that this was the best Essex fielding side he had played with.

Few would argue with that as another memorable year concluded for the county/