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The Antigua Recreation Ground, known locally as the ARG, became cricket's 52nd Test venue in 1980-81 when it hosted England, a Test marked by a hundred from the island's most famous son, Viv Richards.
Situated in the heart of St John's, the island's capital, the Rec has always been more than a cricket ground, hosting football, athletics, carnivals and concerts. Despite the relatively small size of Antigua - population 70,000 - crowds at the Rec were knowledgable and enthusiastic. The centre of activity was the two-tier Double Decker stand where partying well after the close of play, and music and entertainiment during it - this was where the colourful Gravy paraded himself - with wickets and runs accompanied by music and trumpets. The remainder of the ground slowly evolved into a well-appointed stadium.
For many years Antigua had a unique ground staff, largely made up of inmates from the adjoining prison. For years the warden of the prison was Malcolm Richards, the father of Viv. The west side is dominated by St John's Catholic cathedral.
In the build-up to the 2007 World Cup, a decision was made to abandon the Rec and create a purpose-built ground some way from the capital. This was unpopular and, to many, epitomised the priority given to finances over common sense. Whereas the Rec was popular and atmospheric, the new venue was the opposite. The old ground continued to host other events but quickly fell into disrepair.
There were more than a few who delighted when in February 2009 the Sir Viv Richards Stadium proved unloved and unfit for purpose, leading to the Rec answering an SOS to stage a Test at less than 48 hours notice.