A former EFL ground was flattened less than 20 years after being completely redeveloped at a cost of £30million.
After a merger between non-league clubs Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds in 1992, Rushden & Diamonds rose rapidly up the football pyramid in the 1990s under Dr Martens owner Max Griggs, one of the richest men in the country at the time.
In the middle of 90s, the club’s Nene Park home in Irthlingborough was completely renovated and turned into an impressive 6,400-capacity stadium fit for the Football League.
After five seasons in the Conference (now the National League), Rushden finally won promotion to the Football League in 2001, and they almost went up again a year later as they lost in the Division Three (now League Two) play-off final.
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They did win promotion to Division Two (now League One) in 2002, only to be relegated the following season. That proved to be the start of a downturn, with Griggs selling the club to fans for just £1 in 2005.
Rushden were relegated back to non-league in 2006 and then went through a succession of managers as they grappled with financial instability. In 2011, the club was expelled from the National League as their financial troubles meant they could not guarantee they would be able to complete their fixtures in the 2011/12 season.
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After an application to enter to Southern League was turned down, Rushden entered administration before being wound up, although a phoenix club, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, was set up by fans.
However, remaining at Nene Park, with its high running costs, was unsustainable. At one point, the ground hosted car boot sales while nearby Kettering Town played at the stadium for a brief period before moving to another Northamptonshire club, Corby Town.
Then, after being left abandoned for six years, Nene Park was completely demolished in 2017, leaving a completely open space, although some of the ground’s steps were still visible.
Griggs remained a supporter of AFC Rushden & Diamonds until his death in 2021 at the age of 82.
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