With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
Saturday 6th October 2007 ko 15.00
United Counties League Premier Division
ST NEOTS TOWN 1 (Garwell 17)
BOURNE TOWN 0
For the avoidance of any doubt this piece is about the old Rowley Park, as this could get a little confusing! St Neots Town moved from Rowley Park in 2008 to a ground roughly a quarter of a mile away, also called Rowley Park. Now you could look at it was simply a case of a club being at the right place at the right time, but there is more to it than just that.
St Neots weren’t at old Rowley Park for that long. The club were reformed in 1990 and moved to Rowley Park in 1993 as they re-entered the United Counties League. So why move so soon?
Rowley Park was on the eastern edge of St Neots, close to the railway station and close to the A428 and A1. Or putting it another way the ground is right on several major commuter routes, little wonder why the building companies, looked the site and soon pounced.
Rowley Park was and all the area behind it was to become a housing development. I have to say the club did well out of the deal, as part of the new estate they got a 3G training pitch and and the New Rowley Park was a far better ground than the Step 5 and no more ground they vacated. In fact you can see the new ground in progress in the background of at least 3 of these photos.
In sense St Neots ended up being a little fortunate, the banking crisis hit more or less as soon as they moved, I remember the estate wasn’t fully completed until well after the move as the banking crisis impacted on the housing market. You wonder if the move had been delayed whether it would have happened at all? The upshot was that the New Rowley Park set the club up for the Southern League, they were promoted there in 2011 and the ground will allow them to progress still further.
The old Rowley Park may only have been around for a mere 15 years but it does still make it’s existence felt. The floodlights ended up at Peterborough Northern Star and the stand now sits behind the goal at Brackley Town.
All too often a club moves grounds and loses something in the process, my club Oxford United would be a case in point. This is one of those unusual cases where a club has moved and the process has enhanced them. Perhaps St Neots were a little fortunate in their timing but on my regular groundhopping jaunts eastwards I often pass the flats that are now where old Rowley Park once stood.
It is one of those unusual instances where I don’t miss the ground at all. Perhaps that’s a comment on how good the new ground is?
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