Retro: Successful years at stadium

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News last week that plans had been submitted to demolish the former home of Rushden & Diamonds could bring the curtain down on a stadium which hosted league football until as recently as a decade ago.

Nene Park could be replaced with shops, a supermarket, cinema, hotel and restaurants under the new plans – all of which is a far cry from the 6,000 capacity stadium’s former use.

The Rushden & Diamonds Football Club name is taken down from the frontage of Nene Park in Irthlingborough as Kettering Town Football Club move in ENGNNL00120110726163901

The Rushden & Diamonds Football Club name is taken down from the frontage of Nene Park in Irthlingborough as Kettering Town Football Club move in ENGNNL00120110726163901

The ground was built in the 1960s and for many years was the home of Irthlingborough Diamonds until the early 1990s, when the Diamonds merged with Rushden Town.

Rushden Town left their former home at Hayden Road (also pictured, in 1991) after the merger. That ground is now the home of Rushden and Higham United.

Nene Park was redeveloped after the merger and the off-pitch changes mirrored success on the pitch, as Rushden and Diamonds climbed the leagues and won promotion to the Football League in 2001, where they remained for several seasons. The club also reached the third round of the FA Cup twice, once hosting Leeds United at Nene Park where they drew 0-0 in front of a record crowd of more than 6,000, before losing out in the replay at Elland Road.

After Rushden and Diamonds were expelled from the Conference in 2011, the ground continued to host non-league football for another 18 months when Kettering Town temporarily moved in.