|The deserted Rushden & Diamonds stadium|
It's a sad story – and not just for smelly boaters desperate for a washroom! It's a sorry tale of football dreams dissolving into nightmare. The moorings were built alongside the new stadium complex for Rushden & Diamonds football club all financed by Max Griggs, the man behind Doc Martens Airwear boots, also then made in an adjoining factory. For a while all went swimmingly; the club was promoted up through the non-league ranks and into Div2 of the Football League.
But then, as so often, the money started to run out. Griggs couldn't afford to keep financing the club, it changed hands a couple of times, slipped back out of the Football League and finally out of existence altogether in 2011. The huge modern site, of stadium, sports centre, restaurants and car parks now sits idle and deserted. It's like a football graveyard – the grounds immaculately maintained yet not a sight or sound of football life.
We'd stopped there after a short run from Ditchford to make the short uphill walk to the town for supplies at the local Tesco Local. It's never been the most desirable of towns but like the football club seems to be sliding into the relegation zone from even mid-table respectability.
|Swans enjoying dinner on a farmer's wheatfield|
|Hard work: the dreaded manual Nene lock|
|Moored on the bankside overlooking Denford village|