The pre-season of 2004/05 was a busy period for the club, as Ernie Tippett and Stewart Robson looked to effectively rebuild the squad for the forthcoming campaign. New signings included defenders Sean Connelly, Graham Allen (both from Tranmere Rovers), Peter Hawkins and Rob Gier (from MK Dons). Phil Gulliver also arrived along with Craig Dove (a winger) from Middlesbrough. Alex Hay and Gareth Seddon were also brought in to provide more attacking options. Before the fixtures for the 2004 / 05 campaign were announced, there was a great air of anticipation around Nene Park, in fact, around Northamptonshire. Everyone was eager to find out when Rushden and Northampton Town would lock horns, having missed each other the previous season, after Rushden won Division 3, and Northampton were relegated from Division 2.
The two sides would not have to wait long to meet. Rushden would travel to the Sixfields Stadium after an opening day home tie against Kidderminster Harriers. After drawing the opener with Kidderminster 0-0, Rushden went down 1-0 to Northampton, after Eric Sabin struck late on in the game. Injury and illness denied Gareth Seddon the opportunity to pull on a Diamonds shirt, so Ernie Tippett and Stewart Robson would utilise the loan system. Kevin Braniff arrived from Millwall on a three-month loan, and he scored vital goals in 1-0 wins against Grimsby and Cheltenham. The highlight of the opening half of the season was Rushden’s 5-1 thumping of Notts County at Nene Park. New loan signing Drewe Broughton scored a hat trick, the first of the three coming after just ten seconds. However, a run of 13 league games without a win would ultimately spell the end of Ernie Tippett and Stewart Robson’s reign at Nene Park. Barry Hunter took charge for his second spell as Caretaker Manager, and got off to the best possible start, with a 2-0 win over Leyton Orient.
Hunter had reignited the passion and determination that Rushden had missed for so long, and he also made some excellent loan signings to strengthen the squad for the battle ahead. Scott Shearer was brought in from Coventry City, to fill the troublesome Goalkeeper slot following Billy Turley’s departure. Hunter also brought in Neil McCafferty , a young Irish midfielder from Charlton, and Mark Williams, a Northern Ireland international, loaned in from MK Dons at centre-half. Drewe Broughton returned for a second spell at Nene Park, to forge an strike partnership with Billy Sharp, an eighteen year old from Sheffield United. Rushden were becoming quite a force at home under Hunter, and the highlight of the season would be March 12th, 2005. Rushden played Northampton at Nene Park, and with the game level at 2-2 in injury time, Luke Chambers misjudged a clearance-come-pass from Rob Gier, allowing Sharp to steal in and slot the ball past the Cobblers’ goalkeeper as the Rushden fans went wild.
Safety was guaranteed despite the loss of the final two matches of the season to already relegated Cambridge, and promotion chasing Macclesfield. Kidderminster were the other relegated side. In Summer 2005 Max Griggs stepped down as Chairman and owner of the club after announcing his intention to sell the club in October 2003. The Rushden and Diamonds Supporters Trust, made up of supporters of the club, were formed in order to protect the club. In January 2005 Griggs announced his plans to hand over the Football Club, the Nene Park stadium and 22 acres of land – except the sports and exhibition centre – to the Trust. The Griggs family also provided a cash injection to the Trust of £500,000 for the 2005/06 season, and £250,000 for the 2006/07 season.
The game at home to Oxford United on 26th December 2004 was the 700th in the Diamonds History – see here for a reflection on that milestone.
See below for a match summary as well as links to match reports. The final league table for the season can be seen here.
See here for a detailed summary of all the games during the season, including team-line up for each game and match timings.
|Sat 07/08/04||H||CCL2||Kidderminster H||Drew 0-0||–||2699|
|Tue 10/08/04||A||CCL2||Northampton Town||Lost 0-1||–||7107|
|Sat 14/08/04||A||CCL2||Lincoln City||Won 3-1||Braniff, Hay, Dove||4127|
|Sat 21/08/04||H||CCL2||Grimsby Town||Won 1-0||Braniff||2924|
|Tue 24/08/04||H||CC1||Swindon Town||Lost 0-1||–||1672|
|Sat 28/08/04||A||CCL2||Yeovil Town||Lost 1-3||Mills||5088|
|Mon 30/08/04||H||CCL2||Bristol Rovers||Drew 0-0||–||3367|
|Sat 04/09/04||H||CCL2||Southend Utd||Lost 1-4||Burgess||2804|
|Sat 11/09/04||A||CCL2||Oxford Utd||Drew 0-0||–||4756|
|Tue 14/09/04||H||MCSF||Northampton Town||Lost 0-2||–||484|
|Sat 18/09/04||H||CCL2||Cheltenham Town||Won 1-0||Braniff||2601|
|Sat 25/09/04||A||CCL2||Swansea City||Lost 0-1||–||7410|
|Tue 28/09/04||A||LDV1||Walsall||Lost 0-1||–||2987|
|Sat 02/10/04||H||CCL2||Rochdale||Drew 0-0||–||2619|
|Fri 08/10/04||A||CCL2||Shrewsbury Town||Won 1-0||Dove||3882|
|Sat 16/10/04||H||CCL2||Chester City||Lost 0-1||–||2735|
|Tue 19/10/04||A||CCL2||Wycombe Wdrs||Drew 1-1||Mulligan||3844|
|Sat 23/10/04||A||CCL2||Bury||Drew 1-1||Hay||2672|
|Sat 30/10/04||H||CCL2||Notts County||Won 5-1||Broughton/3, Dove/2||3504|
|Sat 06/11/04||H||CCL2||Darlington||Lost 1-2||Mulligan||3036|
|Sat 13/11/04||A||FAC1||Bradford City||Won 1-0||Robinson||4171|
|Sat 20/11/04||A||CCL2||Cambridge Utd||Lost 1-3||Broughton||3466|
|Sat 27/11/04||H||CCL2||Macclesfield||Lost 0-2||–||2643|
|Sat 04/12/04||H||FAC2||Colchester Utd||Lost 2-5||Broughton, Gray||3077|
|Wed 08/12/04||A||CCL2||Boston Utd||Lost 0-1||–||2334|
|Sat 11/12/04||A||CCL2||Mansfield Town||Drew 0-0||–||3776|
|Sat 18/12/04||H||CCL2||Scunthorpe Utd||Lost 1-3||Mulligan||3198|
|Sun 26/12/04||H||CCL2||Oxford Utd||Drew 3-3||Dove, Bell, Taylor||4140|
|Tue 28/12/04||A||CCL2||Leyton Orient||Drew 2-2||Hay, Dove||3777|
|Sat 01/01/05||A||CCL2||Southend Utd||Lost 0-3||–||5930|
|Mon 03/01/05||H||CCL2||Swansea City||Lost 0-2||–||3382|
|Sat 08/01/05||H||CCL2||Shrewsbury Town||Drew 0-0||–||2829|
|Sat 15/01/05||A||CCL2||Cheltenham Town||Lost 1-4||Taylor||3160|
|Sat 22/01/05||H||CCL2||Leyton Orient||Won 2-0||Gier, Bell||3288|
|Sat 29/01/05||A||CCL2||Rochdale||Lost 0-2||–||2664|
|Sat 05/02/05||A||CCL2||Chester City||Lost 1-3||Sharp||2340|
|Sat 12/02/05||H||CCL2||Wycombe Wandrs||Lost 1-2||Allen||3490|
|Sat 19/02/05||A||CCL2||Notts County||Drew 1-1||Sharp||4556|
|Tue 22/02/05||H||CCL2||Bury||Won 3-0||Sharp, Gier, Bell||1803|
|Sat 26/02/05||H||CCL2||Mansfield Town||Drew 0-0||–||3096|
|Sat 05/03/05||A||CCL2||Scunthorpe Utd||Lost 0-1||–||4932|
|Sat 12/03/05||H||CCL2||Northampton Town||Won 3-2||Hawkins, Broughton, Sharp (V)||5520|
|Sat 19/03/05||A||CCL2||Kidderminster Hrs||Drew 0-0||–||3860|
|Fri 25/03/05||H||CCL2||Lincoln City||Lost 1-4||Sharp||4213|
|Mon 28/03/05||A||CCL2||Grimsby Town||Drew 0-0||–||4566|
|Sat 02/04/05||H||CCL2||Yeovil Town||Won 2-0||Gray, Sharp (P)||3726|
|Sat 09/04/05||A||CCL2||Bristol Rovers||Lost 0-3||–||5740|
|Sat 16/04/05||H||CCL2||Boston Utd||Won 4-2||Broughton, Sharp/3||3671|
|Sat 23/04/05||A||CCL2||Darlington||Lost 0-2||–||4579|
|Sat 30/04/05||H||CCL2||Cambridge Utd||Lost 0-1||–||5104|
|Sat 07/05/05||A||CCL2||Macclesfield Town||Lost 0-1||–||2658|
Note – those games with a (P) in the scorers column will have match photos in the report, and those with a (V) will have a link to video highlights of the game.