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Cheltenham's comfortable 3-1 victory over Rushden & Diamonds in the third

Cheltenham's comfortable 3-1 victory over Rushden & Diamonds in the third division play-off final means that Wrexham will be visiting Northamptonshire rather than Gloucestershire next season.

And thus, the three grounds Reds fans will visit for the first time in 2002-3 for a league fixture are Nene Park, home of R&D, Kidderminster Harriers' Aggborough stadium, and York Street, the fortress of recently-crowned Conference champions, Boston United.

Some supporters may view it as a come-down to be playing such sides but, even so, all three encounters will be eagerly awaited - if only for their novelty value. This is the lowdown:

RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS: The team managed by ex-Arsenal and Ipswich star Brian Talbot finished 6th in this year's third division. Nene Park is located on Diamond Way, Irthlingborough - surely the strangest postal address of any professional club in Britain. One visitor to the ground this year said: "Their facilities would not look out of place in the first division".

Curiously, Rushden played Wrexham only 10 months ago in a pre-season friendly at Newcastle Town FC(and were sunk by a Faulconbridge goal). There are other connections: veteran striker David Lowe went on loan there a few years ago, keeper Kristian Rogers did likewise only the season before last, and ex-Reds centre-half Barry Hunter wore the no.35 shirt for Diamonds in 2001-2.

BIZARRE FACT: The club's function room, the Diamond Centre, has staged European Snooker League events, as featured on Eurosport.
FANZINE: Rushin & Rantin.
WEBSITES: www.thediamondsfc.com and www.thediamondsfc.co.uk .

KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS: The Worcestershire outfit have just lost manager Jan Molby to Hull, only months after the big Dane had been linked with Wrexham following Flynn's traumatic exit.

Aggborough is "compact but smart", according to a club spokesman, and houses a pub called The Harriers Arms, which unfortunately is out of bounds for away fans. Over the last 20 years the Dragons and Kiddy have crossed swords in the Welsh Cup on several occasions.

Another link, obviously, is midfielder Danny Williams. The man from Mold made 38 league appearances in his debut season for Harriers, scored one goal, and was booked six times. His team finished 10th in the bottom division.

BIZARRE FACT: Aggborough soup is "world famous" (according to club publicity).
FANZINE: Mr Harryurz.
WEBSITES: www.harriers.co.uk and www.harriers-online.co.uk .

BOSTON UNITED: The Football League newboys wear amber and black stripes and are nicknamed the Pilgrims. Their ground can hold only 6,643 spectators  (1,826 seated).

The club was formed in 1934, has won various trophies (including the East Anglian Cup, Eastern Professional Floodlit Cup and the fantastically-named Non-League Champion of Champions Cup) and is now a fully-fledged professional outfit.

Previous managers include Mel Sterland (1994-6), Howard Wilkinson (1975-7) and Jim Smith (1969-72). And Boston's Wrexham connection? Striker Steve Charles was their top scorer in 1997-8 and defender Martin Filson, who made two substitute appearances for the Reds in 1989, has also turned out for them recently.

BIZARRE FACT: Current boss Steve Evans revealed that on clinching the Conference title, Boston received official messages of congratulations from Glasgow Celtic FC, Cheltenham FC, West Bromwich Albion FC, Lincoln City FC and Rushden and Diamonds FC, plus personal messages of support from Craig Brown and Sam Allardyce. FANZINE: Pilgrim Pages.
WEBSITE: www.bostonunited.co.uk .


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
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