AFC Rushden & Diamonds
|Ground||Hayden Road, Rushden |
|Capacity||2,000 (150 seated)|
|League||Southern League Premier Division Central|
|2017–18||Southern League Division One East, 2nd of 22 (promoted)|
A.F.C. Rushden & Diamonds is an English football club based in Rushden in Northamptonshire. They played their opening season at Kiln Park, the home of Raunds Town, in 2011–12 and subsequently shared the Dog & Duck ground with Wellingborough Town from July 2012 to Summer 2017. A groundshare agreement with Rushden & Higham United was agreed for the 2017–2018 campaign. The club was formed in July 2011 by supporters after Rushden & Diamonds, a former Football League club, were expelled from the Football Conference and liquidated. At an open meeting chaired by a supporters group called SaveRDFC, a mandate was agreed upon to create a phoenix club, fully owned and controlled by its supporters. A team was created and accepted into the Northants Senior Youth League for the 2011–12 season, while a senior team played in the United Counties Football League Division One for the 2012–13 season. They are currently members of the Southern League Premier Division Central.
- 1 History
- 2 Ground
- 3 Club badge
- 4 Players
- 5 Managers
- 6 Club officials
- 7 Kit
- 8 Rivalries
- 9 Season history
- 10 Records
- 11 Honours
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
The original Rushden & Diamonds was formed on 21 April 1992, following the merger of Irthlingborough Diamonds and Rushden Town. The club's early years were marked by success. Within four seasons the club had reached the Conference National, and within nine the club were members of the Football League. However, following their promotion to Division Two the Diamonds' fortunes took a turn for the worse. The club were relegated twice in three years, and suffered instability off the field. Seven different managers took charge of the team between March 2004 and May 2011, while the club itself was controlled by four different parties during the same period. Following a period of sustained financial difficulties during the 2010–11 season, the club were expelled from the Conference at the end of the campaign, and entered administration that July.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds was created during the summer of 2011 by Rushden & Diamonds fans as a "phoenix club" after the original Diamonds were expelled from the Conference National, and subsequently went on to fail to secure a place in the Southern League Premier Division. After missing the FA league deadline for registering a senior side, AFC R&D formed a youth team to compete in the Northants Senior Youth League for the club's inaugural 2011–12 season, with the intention of fielding a senior side the following year. Following an open fans' meeting, supporters voted to play their games for the 2011–12 season at Kiln Park, Raunds, the home of Raunds Town. Former Rushden & Diamonds head of youth development Mark Starmer was appointed as manager, initially taking control of the Under-18 side. The U18s were accepted into the Northants Senior Youth League for the 2011–12 season, but no senior side was registered in time for that season.
The club's first match was a 3–0 loss to Raunds Town in a friendly youth match played on 6 August 2011, attended by 350 supporters. The first ever competitive goal scored at any level for the new club was a penalty from Lewi Williams in the inaugural match of the Dale Roberts Memorial Cup against Cleveland Juniors at Kiln Park on 14 August 2011. The Diamonds played their first competitive game on 25 August 2011, winning 3–0 against Daventry Town in the Northants Senior Youth League. The side ended the league campaign in fifth place with 30 points from their 16 games, and they won the NYSL Knock-out Cup, beating AFC Kempston Rovers 4–1 in the final held at Corby Town's Steel Park. Throughout the season the club established partnerships with other local clubs which saw money donated to the club, the establishment of a youth development programme, and the acquirement of a playing field and home ground until the end of the 2012–13 season.
Ahead of 2012-13, Mark Starmer was given the First Team Manager post, with ex-Rushden & Diamonds player Andy Peaks appointed as his assistant. The senior team were registered to play in the United Counties Football League Division One, playing its home games at the Dog and Duck, home of Wellingborough Town. A Women's team and a series of Youth teams were also established.
The senior side's first match was a 3–0 victory in a friendly against Crawley Green on 17 July 2012. Striker Peter Okechukwu scored the senior team's first goal, with a crowd of approximately 100 watching the match. A month later, AFC Rushden & Diamonds beat Thrapston Town 3–0 in their first ever competitive senior match, with goals from Alfie Taylor (2) and Jack Wisniewski in front of 784 supporters. The club had mixed form throughout the season, but finished the league in second place, securing promotion to the United Counties League Premier in their first senior season. The club also took part in the FA Vase, United Counties League Knockout Cup and the Northants FA Les Underwood Junior Cup.
In 2013-14 the club entered the FA Cup for the first time. Starting in the competition's Extra Preliminary, they beat London Colney, Northwood, Cockfosters, and Cambridge City to reach the Third Qualifying Round, where they we defeated 3-1 away to Conference South side Dover Athletic. In the league, Rushden & Diamonds finished third.
Diamonds spent most of 2014-15 near the top of the table and, in anticipation, applied for promotion. In a season that included a 6-game winning streak, and 9-0 and 7-0 wins against Desborough Town and landlords Wellingborough Town, respectively, the club secured the United Counties League Premier Division title, their first ever honour, and promotion to the Southern League Division One Central. Diamonds made it a double by beating Potton United 3-0 in the final of the UCL Knockout-Cup.
Ahead of the 2015-16 season the club were informed by the Southern Football League that they must use the previously retired number 1 - retired in honour of Dale Roberts - despite the United Counties League and the Football Association having given the club prior permission. A petition was set up by supporters, and goalkeeper Matt Finlay wore 17 on his shirt in the first game of the season. Further appeals from the club eventually succeeded and the decision was overturned. Away from this, the club's promotion meant that they competed in the FA Trophy for the first time. In the FA Cup, Diamonds reached the Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time, where they lost 1-0 in replay against Barwell. After spending some time at the top of the table, in the league the club finished fifth, qualifying for the play-offs. After beating Royston Town in the semi-final they lost 2-1 in extra time to St Ives Town in the final. The season ended with a 2-1 victory in the Hillier Senior Cup Final against old rivals Kettering Town.
Diamonds were transferred to the Northern Premier League Division One South in 2016-17, where they again finished fifth. They qualified once more for the play-offs, but they were defeated 1-0 by Witton Albion in the semi-final. The FA transferred the club once again, this time back to the Southern League Division One Central. They had initially planned to start the 2017-18 season playing their home games at Kempston Rovers' ground, ahead of a proposed move to Hayden Road in Rushden, however necessary works to Hayden Road were completed before the season start. On 28 April 2018 Diamonds were promoted to Step 3 at the third time of asking, finishing second behind Beaconsfield Town; their third promotion in six seasons.
On 21 July 2016, Diamonds released a joint-statement with Wellingborough Town, confirming that the Dog and Duck landlord Alper Ozdogan had invoked a clause in Wellingborough's lease agreement, forcing them to leave the ground by 31 May 2017. This effectively brought an end to the current ground share agreement on that date. Diamonds confirmed that they would be seeking an alternative ground share agreement in the local area.
After a vote amongst the club's members, it was agreed to groundshare with Rushden & Higham United at Hayden Road in Rushden from the 2017–18 season.
The club badge was voted on by the fans from three possible designs and was unveiled on 9 August 2011 at a fans forum at Kiln Park. It draws heavily upon the original Rushden and Diamonds, Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds crests. The "Rampant Lion", Crosskeys of Saint Peter's Church, blue diamonds and red stripes all reflect this inspiration.
First team squad
As of 25 July 2018
As of 13 August 2018
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
(as at 8 May 2018)
Records for league and all cups, appearance totals are starting + substitute
Shown are the top 10 players in each category.
Source: 2017–18 Player and Match Stats