Evo-Stik Northern Premier League AFC Rushden & Diamonds vowed to redouble their search for a new home on Thursday after learning that Nene Park will soon be demolished.
The ground in Irthlingborough – home to Irthlingborough Diamonds and then Rushden & Diamonds from 1969 to 2011 before Diamonds were dissolved – is to be replaced by a new retail and leisure development under plans submitted by the stadium’s owner, Conalgen Enterprises SA.
EVO-STIK NPL First Division South AFC Rushden & Diamonds, born from the ashes of the former club, objected to the plans to tear down their spiritual home last year and issued a statement expressing their sadness after receiving confirmation from East Northants Council that the demolition is set to go ahead.
The club, who share Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck ground, said: “AFC Rushden & Diamonds are extremely saddened at the recent news of the planned demolition of Nene Park. The stadium holds many great memories for everyone connected with the club; memories which cannot be erased by its demolition.
“However, AFC Rushden & Diamonds has proved since its formation that it is the supporters, members and volunteers who are the heart and soul of our club, not the ground in which the team plays. Since 2011, we have been working constantly to find a new home for AFC Rushden & Diamonds, and we will continue to do so.
“Recently, we have been in discussions with East Northamptonshire District Council and are working in conjunction with them to find a new permanent home in the Rushden, Higham and Irthlingborough area for AFC Rushden & Diamonds. With ENDC’s help, we hope to identify a new site upon which a new, sustainable home for the club can be built, to allow AFC Rushden & Diamonds to continue to create great football memories for years to come.”
The ground – dubbed by many as the ‘Old Trafford’ of Non-League after being built by Dr Martens owner Max Griggs – has been empty since EVO-STIK League Southern Kettering Town moved in for 18 months before costs forced them out in November 2012. Now derelict and subject to regular visits from vandals, a fixed hoarding is set secure the site until the stadium is demolished.