|Capacity||6,441 (4,641 seated)|
|Construction cost||£30 million|
|Architect||Rex Bryan Son & Pennock|
Kettering Town 2011-2012Rushden & Diamonds 1992-2011
Nene Park is a football stadium situated by Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, England, along the bank of the River Nene, and holds 6,441, with 4,641 seated and 1,800 standing. The car park can hold 800 vehicles. From 1992 until 2011 it was the home ground of Rushden & Diamonds until their demise. It was then the home of Kettering Town for just 18 months, but they left in November 2012 to play at Corby due to the costs of running the ground. As of then, the ground has become vacant with little immediate chance of further football use in the foreseeable future.
Pre-Rushden & Diamonds
The original ground was built in 1969 as the home of Irthlingborough Diamonds, after the land was bought from the water board. In 1978, Nene Park became the first United Counties League stadium to have floodlights: they were turned on by Bobby Robson, then manager of Ipswich Town. He was watched by Brian Talbot, a player who managed the Rushden & Diamonds team some 20 years later.
After the merger
Beginning in February 1992 soon after the merger between Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds, lasting roughly a decade, the ground was radically redeveloped at an estimated cost of £30 million. In the first stage of the project, a new all-seater North Stand was built. It had a capacity of 1,000, and was completed in summer 1993 in time for the new season. In the next stage, the south stand, including dressing rooms and clubhouse, was torn down and replaced by another all-seater stand, seating just over 1,000, similar in design to the North Stand. The brand new Diamond Centre was erected along with new floodlights and a freshly laid pitch, as the stadium continued to take shape. The new structures were officially opened in April 1995 by HRH The Prince of Wales. The focus then turned to the west side of the ground and the construction of the Peter De Banke (home) terrace, capable of holding 1,800. With three sides of the ground complete and the capacity rising to over 4,000, the east side would form the final redevelopment stage.
The east stand was to be the focal point of the ground. Initially without a roof, the new Airwair Stand was completed in December 1996 holding a total of 2,372. In the following summer the roof was finally installed. The original plans also included the addition of a second tier should the club reach the Football League, however this was never added. Although thought to be too big when built, the North Stand underwent some significant improvements. The press box was relocated further east along the stand to make room for brand new corporate boxes at the back of the structure. Behind the stand, new offices and administration facilities were built, as well as a 150 square-metre club souvenir 'Doc Shop'. The new complex was opened on 16 July 1998, by club chairman Max Griggs. Away from the stadium itself, during the 1997/1998 campaign improvements were made to the training ground. New dressing rooms were constructed beside pitch two, with two entirely new training pitches (three and four) added to the Nene Park portfolio. Some years later shortly before the 2000–01 season, the Dr. Martens Sports and Exhibition Centre with gymnasium, recreational facilities and offices was opened. An all-weather pitch was developed later on in the season to complete the work. They also built a Nando's.
In recent years the stadium's biggest stand, the Airwair Stand was closed, as falling attendances meant that keeping the stand open had become uneconomic. The all-seater Airwair is however opened when large numbers of travelling fans are expected, with a potential 2,372 if required. For teams with smaller followings, a section of the South Stand is allocated. An unusual feature of the stadium is the model owls in each corner, to deter birds from nesting in the roof.
Nene Park has permission to build a three-star, 150-bed hotel on its grounds. Strategic Director at Rushden & Diamonds, Helen Thompson said,
|“||This is of huge significance to the Club to assist in working towards a sustainable future for the whole of the Nene Park Sports Complex and perpetuate the special gift that Max Griggs gave to the local community. Our personal thanks go to all those involved in supporting this application. In recent years Irthlingborough has unfortunately witnessed the redevelopment of many employment sites, we have a serious lack of local jobs. The range of full and part time positions this scheme will bring will provide an economic boost at a critical time, both during construction and once opened.||”|
On 11 December 2012 it was reported that Coventry City were considering moving to Nene Park due to a rent dispute with their current landlords at the Ricoh Arena. That move did not occur with Coventry entering a ground-sharing agreement with Northampton Town, playing their "home" matches at Northampton's Sixfields stadium in the 2013-14 season.
Average crowd sizes
|Season||Ave. Attendance||+/- ave. on prev. season||Competition||Occupier|
|1992–93||322||N/A||Southern Football League||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1993–94||966||+644||Southern Football League||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1994–95||1,521||+855||Southern Football League||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1995–96||2,166||+645||Southern Football League||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1996–97||2,514||+348||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1997–98||2,552||+38||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1998–99||3,041||+489||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|1999–2000||3,298||+257||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2000–01||3,876||+578||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2001–02||4,403||+527||Third Division||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2002–03||4,323||-80||Third Division||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2003–04||4,457||+134||Second Division||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2004–05||3,321||-1,136||League Two||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2005–06||3,162||-159||League Two||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2006–07||2,045||-1,117||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2007–08||1,586||-459||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2008–09||1,509||-77||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2009–10||1,678||+169||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2010–11||1,255||-423||Conference National||Rushden and Diamonds|
|2011–12||1,399||+144||Conference National||Kettering Town|
|2012–13*||466||-933||Southern Football League||Kettering Town|
- As of 7 October 2012.
The South Stand includes the Diamond Centre and hospitality suites. Away fans, if travelling in small numbers, are situated in a block of this stand. There are 1,224 seats.
The North Stand is home to the press box and more hospitality suites. It holds 976 people (all seated). After Kettering Town's demotion to the Southern League in 2012 it was decided to close this stand permanently due to lack of demand for the stand's capacity.
The Airwair Stand is the biggest stand in the stadium. Holding 2,372 fans, it is situated behind one of the goals. During Rushden and Diamonds' tenancy it was split between away fans and home fans. After their relegation back to the Conference National it was closed to cut costs, only being used when a large number of away fans travel. This stayed the same for the first season of Kettering Town's tenancy, however since their demotion to the Southern League it has been permanently closed.
The Dale Roberts Terrace (Formerly the Peter De Banke Terrace), is named after the late former Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper and fan favourite Dale Roberts, who died aged 24 in December 2010. It was opened in late-1994. Holding 1,800 fans, it is an all-standing covered terrace. Within two years of Max Griggs taking control of the club, the terrace was constructed, replacing temporary dressing rooms and offices.
Kettering Town sometimes took the decision to close the Dale Roberts Terrace if a match's attendance is anticipated to be well below the capacity of the South Stand, preferring to put all fans in the South Stand, to cut costs and create a better atmosphere.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
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- Rushden & Diamonds | Club | Nene Park | Nene Park. Thediamondsfc.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- "BBC SPORT | Olympics & Olympic sport | London 2012 | Olympic training venues - East Midlands". BBC News. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
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- "Attendances". Tonykempster.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
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- Nene Park on Rushden & Diamonds official website