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Saturday 30th July 2016 ko 19.45

United Counties League- Division One

RUSHDEN & HIGHAM UNITED 2 (A Cormack 20 Ainge 23)

OAKHAM UNITED 7 (M Nelson 6 61 90 Brown 14og Brockbank 22 43 Lord 53og)

Att 214

Entry £6

Programme £1

It was interesting to see the demographic of the hoppers at the fourth game of the day. On one hand we’d lost a few “Big numbers” boys who like me, had ticked of Hayden Road years before, but we gained back the hoppers who’d opted to miss the games at Eye and Thorney in favour of Wisbech St Mary. But no matter who you are Hayden Road, is a ground that’s always worth a visit.

Part of the reason it that it’s the former home of Rushden Town, who merged with Ithlingborough Diamonds in 1992 to move to the latter club’s Nene Park to become Rushden & Diamonds. That left a spare ground so Northants Combination outfit Rushden Rangers moved in, before merging with Higham Town in 2007 to take Higham’s place in the United Counties League.

You do wonder with AFC Rushden & Diamonds groundshare at Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck ground looking set to end at the season’s finish whether it will all come full circle for the phoenix club.

The main feature from the Rushden Town days is the quite wonderful main stand, which sadly has been condemned despite many attempts to save it. In the here and now the club catered for the hoppers in a way I hadn’t seen before, they produced Argentinian Steak Wraps, proving once again that if you provide interesting, varied catering people will buy even if they’re not hungry.

But let’s face it, the night ended up being all about Oakham. Manager Wayne Oldaker is a good friend of GroundhopUK and last year the club were excellent hosts. But Wayne had an interesting stat for this year. He pointed out that Oakham beat Buckingham Town 5-2 last year and beat Coates Athletic 5-2 the year before! He wondered what the odds would be on another 5-2 win this time, surely lightening couldn’t strike twice, could it?

Well they failed, although in the best way (from their perspective) possible. Put simply a young Rushden side were blown away and Michael Nelson’s hat trick was as superb as it was deserved. It was a tough evening for our hosts whose company we all enjoyed; I hope the financial windfall from the club making the most of a crowd four times normal will have eased the pain a little.