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. On 18 July 2011 the club announced the appointment of former Rushden & Diamonds head of youth development Mark Starmer as their first manager, initially taking control of the Under-18 side. On 22 July 2011, AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s were accepted into the Northants Senior Youth League for the 2011–12 season.
With no senior side registered in time for the 2011–12 season, the club focused solely on its Under-18 side. AFC R&D played their first official match in 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, running out comfortable 3–0 winners against Daventry Town in the Northants Senior Youth League, watched by 467 supporters. On 9 October 2011, the club won its first ever competitive cup match, winning 7–0 over Wellingborough Vicarage Farm in the NFA Under-18 Cup.
Throughout the season much was done to integrate AFC R&D into the local footballing community. Deals were struck with St Neots Town, South Rushden Junior Football Club, Raunds Town and Wellingborough Town. Between them, these local partnerships 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. On 24 March 2012, Mark Starmer was announced as First Team Manager for the 2012–13 season. The club ended the league campaign in a respectable mid-table position, finishing in fifth place with 30 points from their 16 games.
The first season of existence for AFC Rushden & Diamonds also ended in cup success, winning the NSYL Knock-Out Cup at Steel Park, the home of Corby Town. In the final Diamonds beat AFC Kempston Rovers 4–1, securing their first piece of silverware ahead of a 479-strong crowd. Ex-Rushden & Diamonds player Andy Peaks was appointed as First Team Assistant Manager on 5 May 2012.
A senior side was registered to play in the United Counties Football League Division One for the 2012–13 season, playing its home games at the Dog and Duck, home of Wellingborough Town. There is also a ladies team, and three new academy sides competing in the Junior Premier League.
The senior side's first match was to be played against Wellingborough Town but was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. Instead, the senior team's first game was a 3–0 victory in a friendly against Crawley Green, a Spartan South Division One (level 10) team, on 17 July 2012. Striker Peter Okechukwu scored the senior team's first goal, with a crowd of approximately 100 watching the match. The following game, a friendly against Southern Football League Premier Division team (level 7) St Neots Town, ended in a 3–3 draw.
On 18 August 2012, 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 team were then held to an unexpected 1–1 draw by league rivals Wootton Blue Cross, before victories away at Harrowby United, Olney Town and Rothwell Corinthians saw them go into October in second place in the league table. However, October was a poor month for Diamonds in the league with a 4–1 loss to promotion rivals Eynesbury Rovers preceding a surprise 1–1 home draw with bottom side Burton Park Wanderers. November saw a return to form, with two home league wins, before December's solitary league fixture saw the Diamonds win 9–0 at struggling Buckingham Town before bad weather hit the football calendar with no further football played until January. New Year's Day saw a hard-fought victory over Northampton Spencer before, another massive dent in the Diamonds' promotion hopes was delivered with a 5–1 drubbing away to Oadby Town. The final two games played in January were both good home wins, which saw the team enter February with a record of 6 league wins in the last 7 games.
A 100% win record was maintained during the month of February, whilst conceding just one goal. The good run of form showed no signs of abating during March and April, with 26 points gained from the next 10 games, including two 2–2 home draws against promotion rivals Oadby Town and Northampton Sileby Rangers. As their closest rivals dropped points around them, an amazing turnaround in fortunes meant the Diamonds were in a promotion place come the visit of Eynesbury Rovers. Rushden secured the point they needed to keep their destiny in their own hands, with a topsy-turvy game finishing 2–2. Two further wins, versus Potton United (2–0) and Wellingborough Whitworth (4–1), meant that a point away at Northampton Spencer would achieve promotion. An attendance of 814 saw a comprehensive 3–0 win for the visitors, as AFC Rushden & Diamonds finished in second place, thus securing elevation into the United Counties League Premier in their first senior season.
For the 2012–13 season, the Diamonds were entered into three cup competitions: the FA Vase, The United Counties League Knockout Cup and the Northants FA Les Underwood Junior Cup. The FA Vase draw saw AFC R&D get a bye in the First Qualifying Round before facing Fakenham Town in the Second Qualifying Round, running out 4–1 winners thanks to goals from Alfie Taylor (2), Jake Newman and Jack Wisniewski. Further victories over Yaxley and Basford United saw the club reach the third round with an away tie at Ashington. However, an injury-time goal from the home side secured a 2–1 scoreline to knock the Diamonds out. In the UCL KO Cup, The Preliminary Round pitted the club against neighbours Wellingborough Whitworth, a 5–3 after extra-time victory taking AFC R&D through to a first round match-up with ground-share partners Wellingborough Town, with Diamonds losing 3–4 on penalties following a 2–2 draw after extra time. In the Les Underwood Junior Cup First Round, manager Mark Starmer fielded a side containing Under-18 and fringe first-team players and they battled bravely against a near full-strength Wellingborough Whitworth losing out 1–3 after extra time in the club's first ever senior competitive defeat.
For the 2013–14 campaign, First Team Coach Dean Thomas saw himself managing a newly introduced Under-21 side in the Athium Midland Combination Under-21s League. It was the Diamonds’ debut FA Cup run which dominated the early part of the season. They started off in the Extra Preliminary Round against London Colney, winning the replay 6–1 at the Dog and Duck to progress. The club overcame further ties against Northwood and Cockfosters (during which Russ Dunkley scored five headed goals in the replay), to set up a home tie versus Southern Premier League outfit Cambridge City. The two league gap between the sides seemed insignificant throughout, as the game approached full-time at 2–2. However, in the 92nd minute a cross ball in from the left edge of the penalty area was converted at the far post by AFC frontman Alfie Taylor, to secure a memorable victory. The Third Qualifying Round draw saw Rushden travel to old Conference rivals Dover Athletic. A brave and spirited display at The Crabble was not enough to prevent a 3–1 reverse though, as the Diamonds were eliminated by the Conference South side after a great cup run. The team also enjoyed a very good FA Vase run. Starting in the First Qualifying Round, they overcame ties against AFC Dunstable, Hoddesdon Town, Woodford United, AFC Wulfrunians and Graham Street Prims, to set up a Fourth Round fixture at home to St Andrews F.C. However, it was the away side one league below who pulled off a shock 2–0 victory, to progress into the next round in front of Diamonds' then record attendance of 948.
The league season began with three straight victories against Deeping Rangers, Northampton Sileby Rangers and Sleaford Town, before a surprising 1–0 defeat to Huntingdon Town. After a September full of cup ties, the club resumed their league programme with a 3–1 win against Harborough Town, but then suffered their first ever home league defeat on 15 October, going down 3–2 to Peterborough Northern Star. Two wins and two draws from the next four matches were followed by another Dog and Duck reverse to Huntingdon, as the Cambridgeshire club completed a league double over Diamonds. However a fantastic run of form thereafter yielded 10 league victories and just one defeat, including a superb 2–1 win away to leaders Spalding United to end the home side’s incredible 17-match winning stretch. The club then finished off their successful 2013 with consecutive victories against co-tenants Wellingborough Town and AFC Kempston Rovers. The start to the new calendar year was riddled with postponements as the weather took effect. Because of this just three league matches took place for Rushden in January and February, with 1–0 and 3–1 home wins against Boston Town and Holbeach United respectively, followed by a 0–0 draw away to Cogenhoe United. With runaway leaders Spalding United marching to the UCL Premier title, thoughts were firmly fixed on securing second place. Newport Pagnell Town and Holbeach United were both dispatched, before three wins and two home defeats in the next five games, as the season entered its final month.
April began with the home fixture against table toppers Spalding United, with the away side 22 points ahead of their hosts, needing a single point to win the league. The Diamonds took an early lead on nine minutes but were pegged back to 1–1 three minutes later. Just when a draw seemed assured, the away side snatched the victory in the 93rd minute to secure the title. After a Friday night win vs. Yaxley, the final home match saw the highest league attendance of the season, with 677 watching a comfortable 4–1 success for Diamonds over landlords Wellingborough Town. With Huntingdon Town winning both home and away matches against champions Spalding, the club finished the campaign in third position. The season came to a close with a 3–0 victory at Stewarts & Lloyds Corby.
Diamonds’ third season of senior football began with three league wins on the spin, with decent progress made in the FA Cup too as Oxhey Jets were firstly disposed of 5–1 in the Extra Preliminary Round. In the next stage a 1–1 draw at home to Bedford Town meant a replay, which Rushden impressively won 3–0 to progress again and secure a tie at Hendon. A brave effort from the away side against an opponent two levels higher ended in a narrow 1–0 defeat as they exited the competition. Although a first league defeat of the season ensued at Yaxley the club went on a great run of seven consecutive wins, scoring 29 goals and conceding just five in the process as they stormed to the top of the table. In a tough run of fixtures Diamonds drew 1–1 with fellow promotion chasers Holbeach United at home, before two valuable victories away to Sleaford Town and Wisbech Town, the latter in which the visitors finished the match with eight men. Following this two draws against tough opposition in Yaxley and Cogenhoe United kept the club top of the UCL Premier. Rushden entered the FA Vase in the Second Round but went out at the first hurdle, going down to a frustrating 1–0 loss away to Hullbridge Sports. Four straight victories were then recorded in the league to get back to winning ways, however a surprise 2–1 reverse at Thurnby Nirvana was suffered just prior to Christmas.
With the Boxing Day match at home to landlords Wellingborough Town abandoned due to a floodlight failure, 2015 started with a 2–1 win in the away fixture against their ground sharers. In the next match however Diamonds received another dent to their promotion hopes with defeat at Oadby Town, 2–0. Needing to get back on track, two 3–0 wins in a row followed before the top of the table clash away to Holbeach United, the only other team to have applied for promotion. The hosts went ahead on 24 minutes through Jamie Clarke and led at half-time. As Diamonds struggled to make a breakthrough Holbeach had a goal dubiously ruled out towards the end of the match. Then on 93 minutes Rushden stole a last-gasp equaliser, as Russ Dunkley converted a Jason Turner flick-on to secure a 1–1 draw. The dramatic late goal was one that would prove crucial in the coming months. The club duly racked up an impressive six league wins on the bounce, including their biggest victory of the season, 9–0 at Desborough Town. Within this time frame Holbeach had totally imploded, losing four Premier Division matches and drawing two, getting knocked out of the FA Vase and having their manager Graham Drury resign.
It was now Wisbech Town who formed Diamonds’ main title rivals, and the two teams met on 21 March at the Dog and Duck. The Cambridgeshire side held the lead from very early on only for R&D to level in the eighth minute of second half stoppage time, sparking wild scenes around the ground from the majority of the 930 crowd. With Diamonds in pole position having maintained their four-point lead at the summit, a full complement of points from their next three games gave them promotion to Step 4. Subsequently 7–0 and 4–1 wins over Wellingborough Town and Northampton Sileby Rangers respectively secured the United Counties League Premier Division title. The league campaign ended with victory versus Newport Pagnell Town and a draw at home to Cogenhoe United on the last day, as their undefeated home record was kept intact. The club finished on 99 points (11 ahead of closest challengers Thurnby Nirvana) and an impressive 17-game unbeaten run. Along with this success the UCL Knockout-Cup was also won with Burton Park Wanderers, Wellingborough Whitworth, Yaxley and Wisbech all being dispatched, before a 3–0 defeat of Potton United in the Final. AFC Rushden & Diamonds hence became the first club to complete the double since Rothwell Town in 1992–93.
After their second promotion in three campaigns Diamonds took their place at Step 4 in the Southern League Division One Central. The season started with large amounts of controversy however, as the club were informed by the Southern Football League that they must use the previously retired number 1 - held in honour of Dale Roberts. This occurred despite the fact that the United Counties League and the Football Association had permitted the club to field a team without a number one shirt in the years that they competed in the league and in the FA Vase. A petition was set up by club fans and members to bring pressure on the Southern Football League to change its mind on this issue. Despite the ruling Diamonds goalkeeper Matt Finlay wore 17 on his shirt in the first game of the season against Petersfield Town. Further appeals from the club eventually succeeded and the decision was overturned.
In brand new surroundings the opening three matches were all drawn, before a first win of the season was registered at home to Aylesbury United. More victories then followed against Chalfont St. Peter, Bedford Town, North Greenford United and Aylesbury, although Rushden’s subsequent match at Kings Langley was abandoned in the 95th minute after a mass brawl. Sandwiched in between these games the team had embarked upon an FA Cup run, knocking out Kings Langley, Bedfont & Feltham and Deeping Rangers all away from home. October began with three cup matches, as early exits from the FA Trophy and Red Insure Cup were suffered (1-3 vs. Basford United and 1-4 vs. Histon respectively). The clubs’ exciting foray in the FA Cup continued though with a hard fought 2-0 victory at home to Northern Premier League side Ashton United. The next two fixtures against Potters Bar Town and Fleet Town both produced wins at the Dog and Duck, as the brilliant league form was maintained. After overcoming four ties Diamonds were drawn away to Step 3 Barwell in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round. A brace from defender Liam Dolman helped secured a 2-2 draw, which included a dramatic equaliser in the fifth minute of second-half injury time. In the Tuesday night replay a club record attendance of 1,162 was present in Wellingborough as a close match was played out. It was the visitors from Leicestershire however who eventually prevailed 1-0 thanks to a Brady Hickey goal, as Rushden’s memorable FA Cup run was brought to an end.
Diamonds returned to league action with a 3-1 away win over Barton Rovers, before a 1-0 loss at Godalming Town signalled their first league defeat of the season. It also brought to an end a remarkable 28-game undefeated league run, stretching back to the 2-0 defeat at Oadby Town in the UCL Premier on 10 January. The next four matches produced three wins and a draw as the club entered December in second place behind St Ives Town. The start of the month saw Royston Town inflict Diamonds’ first home league defeat of the campaign, securing an impressive 4-1 success. Rushden responded well with victories away to Hanwell Town and Uxbridge, although two further defeats to Chalfont St. Peter and Egham Town dented their automatic promotion hopes. The calendar year came to a conclusion with a 2-1 away success against Bedford Town. 2016 began in excellent fashion with 17 points out of a possible 24 gained, whilst the Hillier Senior Cup Final was reached with a 2-1 defeat of Brackley Town in the Semis.
Rushden went into the match at home to title rivals Kings Langley four points clear at the top. It ended in disappointment however as Diamonds fell to an uninspiring 1-0 loss to their West London visitors. The result sparked a sudden and surprising dip in form for the side. It was followed by consecutive defeats to Potters Bar Town, Royston Town, and Uxbridge, with a 0-0 draw against Northwood ending any faint title ambitions. The first win in six games was registered at home to Leighton Town, but another reverse ensued away to Arlesey Town 2-1. Fighting to stay in the Play-Off positions, the team finally hit some form with victories over Hanwell Town and Barton Rovers. Although Egham Town subsequently overcame Diamonds in the penultimate league game of the season, the campaign concluded positively with a 2-0 success at home to Godalming Town.
Finishing in fifth position, Rushden secured their Southern League Central Play-Off place and headed to Royston Town for the Semi-Final. The visitors were on the front foot from the outset and took the lead through Jack Bowen. Liam Dolman doubled the advantage with a penalty on 80 minutes after home goalkeeper Yates was sent-off, whilst Claudio Hoban received a second yellow card for the away side soon after. In spite of a late goal for Royston, Diamonds held on for the victory to progress. Rushden faced fourth placed St Ives Town away in the Final. In front of 1,523 spectators, the match proved to be one of little quality with a distinct lack of cutting edge. The visitors had seemingly won the match late on through an Elliott Sandy header, however Danny Watson volleyed home on 88 minutes for the Saints to force extra-time. St Ives completed the turn around on 96 minutes with a spectacular 25-yard strike from Ben Seymour-Shove, to secure promotion and condemn Diamonds to Play-Off heartbreak. The season however ended in triumph with a 2-1 victory in the Hillier Senior Cup Final against old rivals Kettering Town, to cap an impressive first campaign at Step 4 for AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
On 21 July 2016, Diamonds released a joint-statement with Wellingborough Town F.C., confirming that 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 brings 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 cub's members, it was agreed to groundshare with Rushden & Higham United F.C.'s at Hayden Road in Rushden from 2016/17 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.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
(as at 21 Feb 2017)Matches include league, league cup, county cup, FA Vase and FA Cup matches.
Chairman: Ralph Burditt
Vice Chairman: Jon Ward
Club Secretary: James Waller
Manager: Andy Peaks
Assistant Manager: Paul Lamb
First Team Coach: Scott Carlin
Under 21s Manager: Marcin Klima
Under 21s Assistant Manager: Richard Maxwell
Under 18s/Scholarship Team Manager: Darren Purse
Head of Academy: Martin Jenkins
Physiotherapists: Kelly Freeman & Colin Hodsden
Club Chaplain: Canon Roger Knight
Fans Chaplain: Rev Alan Jenkins
Records for league and all cups, appearance totals are starting + substitute
Shown are all who have made more than 100 appearances, or scored more than 25 goals
Source: 2016–17 Player and Match Stats
Most rivalries were formed when the supporters still followed the original club, however the rivalries commenced once fans started following the phoenix club. Although this means that whereas local rivalries with league clubs such as Luton Town, Peterborough United and even Northampton Town have died down, the rivalry with Kettering Town has been re-ignited, and new rivalries such as with Wellingborough Town have been developed.
Rushden's main rivals are nearby Kettering Town. Rushden & Diamonds F.C and Kettering Town played seventeen competitive games together, 16 in the Conference National and one in the FA Cup. The first competitive game between the sides was played out on 8 March 1997, with Rushden running out comfortable 5–1 winners at Rockingham Road. In the early years, derby games between the two would regularly attract crowds in excess of 4,500. The clubs remained in the same division for five seasons before, in 2001, Rushden gained promotion to the Football League, while Kettering were relegated that same season from the Conference. After a seven-year gap, in 2008–09 the teams again found themselves in the same division, after Rushden suffered two quickfire relegations and Kettering gained promotion from the Conference North.
In the 16 league games contested and over 1,000 minutes of league football played between the two sides, Kettering won just twice, while Rushden recorded nine victories. In the same number of games, Rushden scored 25 goals to the Poppies' eight. On 3 January 2011 Kettering ended an 11-year wait for a win over the Diamonds, beating Rushden for only the second time in their history with a 2–1 triumph at Nene Park. Throughout the history of the fixture, Rushden & Diamonds maintained an impressive record of having never lost a competitive away match against Kettering Town.
The rivalry resumed on May 6 2016, when AFC Rushden & Diamonds met Kettering in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup final, which Diamonds won 2-1 at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium.
The rivalry between the Diamonds and Northampton Town occurred between 2004–06, when the two clubs played in League Two together for two seasons. Eight games were played between the sides – four competitive league games and four pre-season cup games. The Diamonds recorded a sole league victory over Northampton, a 3–2 win at Nene Park during the 2004–2005 season thanks to a last minute goal from Billy Sharp. They also beat their rivals in two pre-season Maunsell Cup games. After the Diamonds' relegation out of the Football League this rivalry diminished in relevance, especially as this relegation led to the re-ignition of the Rushden-Kettering rivalry.
Past rivalries from the original club's younger years were also enjoyed with Kidderminster Harriers, Cheltenham Town and Yeovil Town, with the three clubs often competing against each other in their various play-off and championship pushes. Rushden also enjoyed rivalries with various other clubs throughout their history. Peterborough United and Luton Town were seen as small rivals during the club's Football League days, due to the relative geographical proximity of the three clubs. Following the original Diamonds' relegation into the Conference, however (despite Luton's presence there also) these rivalries diminished considerably. As the new entity, a ground-share with Wellingborough Town means that a rivalry between the two tenants has ensued in Wellingborough.Most Goals in a Season: 28, Alfie Taylor, 2013–14
Highest Home Attendance: 1,162 vs Barwell F.C., 27 October 2015
Highest Away Attendance: 1,523 vs St Ives Town, 2 May 2016
Longest Unbeaten League Run: 28 matches, 13 January 2015 - 31 October 2015
United Counties Football League Premier Division (Level 9)
KO Cup Winners: 2014–15
United Counties Football League Division One (Level 10)
NFA Hillier Cup Winners: 2016
NFA Maunsell Cup Winners: 2016
The James Victory Cup
Winners: 2013, 2014
Supporters Direct Shield
Northants Senior Youth League Knock-Out Cup
Northants Senior Youth League Western Division
Northants Senior Youth League Read-Flex Vase