Demise of the Diamonds - where did it all go wrong?

By Geoff DoyleBBC Radio Northampton Sports Editor
Billy Sharp
Billy Sharp scores against Northampton Town at Nene Park in 2005

Eight years ago, Rushden & Diamonds were a club on the up.

They were secure, with plenty of cash. They had a decent and reputable owner. And they were competitive in League One following successive promotions.

Today, the club is effectively no more, after being thrown out of the Blue Square Bet Premier and turfed out of Nene Park.

The club are set to go into administration, have a winding-up petition around the corner and, just to compound their fans' misery, the keys to the ground are about to be handed over to arch-rivals Kettering Town for the new season.

Rushden & Diamonds die and Kettering Town move in; a hammer-blow.

Former Tottenham defender Justin Edinburgh, who was appointed as the club's manager in April 2009, said: "It is a sad day for a lot of good people and good supporters in and around the football club."

So where did it all go wrong?

Rushden & Diamonds were formed at the end of the 1991/92 season as a merger between Rushden Town of the Southern League and Irthlingborough Diamonds, from the United Counties League.

Max Griggs, a local businessman and owner of the shoe company Dr Martens, was supplying the cash and the magnificent Nene Park stadium complex arose.

The first manager of the newly formed club was Roger Ashby.

"The facilites at Nene Park were Championship level," he remembers. "It was like fantasy world really. Before we knew where we were, we had won one or two leagues and found ourselves in the Football League."

So what happened?

Six years ago, Griggs decided he could take Rushden & Diamonds no further with the club losing money every year.

He attempted to sell the club but was unsuccessful and instead gave the club, the land and a sizeable chunk of money to the Supporters' Trust.

The financial problems mounted and led to the supporters handing over control to businessman Keith Cousins who took charge of the club and the land four years ago.

Cousins did bring costs down but the club still ran at a loss and in December 2010 he gave the club, but not the land, to Gary Calder and Liam Beasant.

But Calder soon left and Beasant was joined by his father Steve. The financial problems dramatically worsened, the taxman came calling and recently the club was served a winding-up petition.

Max Griggs
Griggs bankrolled the climb to Division Two (today's League One)

It comes as little surprise to Jon Ward, who has helped set up the phoenix group SaveRDFC.

"We all expected it to be honest," he says. "When the club was handed over in December, things didn't seem right.

"Come May we were told by Keith Cousins we had two weeks to raise £750,000 which was nigh on impossible."

Ashby wonders what Griggs makes of it.

"I would have thought he would be particularly aggravated by the situation but I suppose it's one of those things that happen in football."

So what now?

SaveRDFC has formed AFC Rushden & Diamonds and the idea is to be playing football this time next year. But that is unlikely to be at Nene Park now Kettering Town have signed an agreement to use the ground.

"Not only have we lost our club but our rivals are moving in as well to rub salt into the wounds," said Ward.

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