When AFC Rushden and Diamonds recently played Kidsgrove Athletic the match was not only significant in that it ended Diamonds 19 game unbeaten run, but that our opponents were to become the 100th different team that Diamonds have played in competitive football since their formation as a Senior team in 2012.*
In those four and a half seasons Diamonds have competed in the First and Premier Divisions of the United Counties League, Division One Central of the Southern League and currently in First Division South of the Northern Premier League, plus of course numerous Cup ties against teams from many different leagues around the country.
In 2012/13 Diamonds competed against 18 league opponents in the UCL First Division and a further five teams in Cup competitions: Fakenham, Yaxley, Basford and Ashington in the FA Vase plus our first encounter with our “groundshare” colleagues Wellingborough Town in the UCL KO Cup.
Following promotion, the 2013/14 brought Diamonds into competition against a further 17 new league opponents, which included Wellingborough and Yaxley whom Diamonds had met in the previous season.
Diamonds first foray into the FA Cup and second season in the FA Vase brought matches against eleven new combatants, from many different Leagues.
London Colney, Northwood, AFC Dunstable, Cockfosters, Hoddesden, Woodford, AFC Wulfrunians, Graham St Prims and St Andrews. Plus of course the never to be forgotten FA Cup ties against Cambridge City at The Dog and Duck and the away match versus Dover Athletic of the National League South.
Season 2014/15 was relatively quiet regarding new opponents as Diamonds set about winning the “UCL Double” of the Premier Division title and the League Cup.
Thurnby Nirvana were the only new league opponents, and in Cup competitions they added Oxhey Jets, Bedford Town and Hendon to the list of FA Cup opponents, but went out at the first attempt in the FA Vase to Hullbridge Sports and to Brackley Town in the Hillier Cup.
2015/16 saw Diamonds promoted to the Southern League Division One Central and no less than 19 new faces from around the northern Home Counties and the M25 corridor, the only opponents that Diamonds had previously encountered were Northwood and Bedford Town.
In the FA Cup Diamonds faced Bedfont & Feltham and Ashton Utd (also Deeping Rangers and Kings Langley) before succumbing to Barwell from the Northern Premier League in front of a record Dog and Duck crowd. In the League Cup they lost in the first round at home to Histon, but more than made amends by defeating our old foes Kettering Town in the Hillier Cup Final at Sixfields in the last game of the season.
This current season started with Diamonds winning the Maunsell Cup against Peterborough United before embarking on our first campaign in the Northern Premier League Division One South where to date we have met a further 16 new opponents (not yet played Witton Albion, Northwich Victoria and Leek Town and have previously played Basford and Spalding).
In the FA Cup Hornchurch and Concord were added to our list of FA Cup conquests and in FA Trophy Coalville became yet another new victim.
In the Integro League Cup there was a first meeting victory over Corby Town.
Prior to this season there are only seven teams that Diamonds have not beaten in ANY competition. Five of whom have been in Cup competitions, Hendon (twice) and Dover in the FA Cup, plus Ashington, St Andrews and Hulbridge Sports in the FA Vase.
The other two were both in Southern League matches, namely Egham Town, two defeats, and perhaps surprisingly Beaconsfield with a draw and a defeat.
During the UCL days Huntingdon were the only team to ever achieve a league double against Diamonds, that occurring in season 2013/14, but they were soundly thrashed 7-1 and 8-1 the following season.
We have certainly enjoyed seeing a wide variety of opponents from around the country, and in the course of our travels making many new friends.
*Excludes pre-season tournaments, but does include Maunsell Cup Final v Peterborough Utd.
** Not including teams played to date this season