Football stadium to be demolished
Nene Park, formerly the home of Rushden & Diamonds is to be demolished. The stadium is derelict and judged to be dangerous and a fire risk. The club was formed from a merger of Irthlingborough Diamonds and Rushden Town. in 1992. They were promoted to the Football League in 2001. At their height they played in the equivalent of League One. I remember seeing them draw there with QPR.
However, after their benefactor, Max Griggs, withdrew his funding, and handed the club over to the fans in 2005, they fell back into the non-league system in 2006 and eventually folded in 2011. There simply was not a big enough support base in a largely rural area. The stadium was well designed for the level of football played in it, although one newspaper critic likened it to a Mecanno set plonked down in the countryside as a boy's big toy.
Kettering Town, themselves homeless, moved in for eighteen months after they lost their ground at Rockingham Road, but left in 2012. They found that the costs were too high.
Supporters formed a phoenix club, AFC Rushden & Diamonds who play i n Division 1 South of the Northern Premier League, step four of the non-league system. They had a crowd of 445 at their game yesterday, well above the division average. That club is also homeless, but Nene Park would be too big and expensive for their needs.
The stadium's owner, Conalgen Enterprises SA, want to build a new retail and leisure development including shops, a cinema, a hotel, restaurants and a community football pitch.