Football: Farewell Manor Park; FOOTBALL: The Lights Go out and the Turnstiles Will Shut after This Saturday's Final Competitive Fixture Boro on Move from Ground after 90 Years of Non-League History
Byline: By Derek Brown
IN TERMS of cash, England's revamped home at Wembley Stadium and Nuneaton Borough's new ground at Liberty Way are millions of pounds apart but both are earmarked to be the venue for respective ambitions.
While England are battling for a European Championship place next summer with Wembley hopefully providing much needed inspiration, Boro's switch to Liberty Way in August could be the spark that kicks off a promotion winning campaign.
This Saturday, Boro play their final game at Manor Park, ending almost 90 years of a Nuneaton footballing history at one of non-league soccer's best known venues and their loyal supporters pray the switch to the Attleborough headquarters will reap rewards both on and off the pitch.
Boro's short-term aim is strengthen their commercial outlets to provide manager Kevin Wilkin with a budget that competes with the best in Nationwide North - or, from the 2006-2007 season, The Blue Square Northern Division - enabling the club to field a team capable of achieving promotion.
Leaving Manor Park has been a long drawn out affair that has lingered on for almost ten years but with major shareholder Ted Stocker now pointing the way, Boro are set to depart their old habitat and take up residence at Liberty Way.
But Manor Park will live long in the memories of Boro fans.
It was back in 1919 that the piece of land alongside the Cock and Bear canal bridge first became the town's footballing home, although it was on January 28, 1967 that it boasted its biggest gathering as a crowd of 22,114 crammed inside to watch the 1-1 draw with Rotherham United in the FA Cup, third round, while just over 15 months ago a 6,000 full house saw Boro come close to upsetting Premiership side Middlesbrough as Gez Murphy's late penalty earned a 1-1 draw.
And few will forget the glorious rain-swept night in November, 2000 when Marc McGregor's last ditch strike gave Boro a 1-0 FA Cup first round success over Stoke City in front of 4,477 sodden fans.
Boro have owned the ground since 1980 but it became apparent in the mid 90s that it was not equipped to meet the economics that present day non-league football clubs need to survive and it was became a priority to find a new stadium.
Plans were made and numerous sites suggested, such as Greenmoor Road, Bermuda and Weddington, for Nuneaton's new ground but the club went into the new millennium still unsure of it's future base.
Unfortunately, the 2002-03 season was a massive disappointment with early exits from the FA Cup and FA Trophy followed by relegation from the Conference, while ground move speculation took a back seat. …