AFC Rushden & Diamonds – Background and Squad Details

AFC Rushden & Diamonds was formed in 2011 following the demise of Rushden & Diamonds FC as a supporter-owned, supporter-run football club. After a season in youth football in 2011-12 they were allocated a place in the United Counties League Division One for 2012-13 (Step 6 of Non-League Football). They gained promotion in second spot in that league at the end of their first season, and followed that with third place in the UCL Premier Division before winning the title in the 2014-15 season, backed up with the League Cup. This meant they won promotion to the Southern Football League Division One Central. In 2015-16 they finished fifth in the SL1C, reaching the playoff final and winning their County Cup. They were transferred to the Northern Premier League First Division South for the 2016-17 season where they again reached the end of season playoffs. For 2017-18 they returned to the Southern League to play in Division One East, known as EVO-Stik League South, East, winning promotion at the end of that season to Step 3 of Non-League Football. They now play in the Southern League Premier Division Central.

After five seasons playing at the Dog & Duck in Wellingborough, they have moved to Hayden Road, Rushden, where they share facilities with Rushden & Higham United. The ground is the former home of Rushden Town. They have adopted a “Community Benefit Society” constitution accredited by the FSA. This reinforces the principles of One Fan, One Vote and ensures that the club and its assets are protected on behalf of the community in the long term. With 750 club members, today the club has 30 teams of all ages including Academy, Development, and Community teams not forgetting the much respected multi disability team; all wearing the traditional Diamonds white shirt.

Being a community members club means that to succeed and achieve long term plans, the club aims to sustain a strong youth and community football base, whilst engaging and gaining the support from the local community. 

For a more detailed Club History see here.

 

Management Team and First Team Squad Profiles 2018-19

The AFC Rushden & Diamonds Management Team and First Team Squad for the 2018/19 season are detailed below. Further squad members will be linked to the AFC R&D Elite Squad for developing players in the 18-21 age bracket. For further details including game and competition stats see here. Player ages correct as of 1/8/18.

 

Management Team

First Team Manager – Andy Peaks. Andy had joined Mark Starmer’s management team in May 2012, bringing a wealth of UCL experience as well as his notable career history with Rushden & Diamonds FC where he was eighth in their all-time appearance list, having played 205 times for R&DFC between 1992 and 1997. He holds a UEFA B coaching license. He took over control of first-team affairs in a caretaker role following Mark Starmer’s resignation on 19th March 2014, and was installed on a permanent basis a month later. In his first full season at the helm he took the club to a League and Cup Double in the United Counties League. He has since led to the end of season playoffs in the past two seasons.

Assistant Manager – Paul Lamb. Paul joined the club in the summer of 2014 after performing a similar role at Cogenhoe United. He started his playing career at Northampton Town before making over 200 appearances for Wealdstone before moving back to the local area, playing for Brackley Town, Banbury United and Bedworth United before taking up the position of player-coach at Daventry Town. After helping Daventry clinch the UCL title he took on an assistant manager role at Banbury United before taking up a similar role with the Cooks.

First Team Coach – Scott Carlin. Scott joined the club in the summer of 2012, after leaving his post as Assistant Manager at Northampton Spencer. Scott, or Biff as he’s more commonly known, brought a wealth of experience having worked with AFC R&D Manager Andy Peaks over the previous few seasons. He is also head of the Club’s Football Academy.

First Team Physiotherapist – Kelly Freeman

 

Goalkeepers

Ben Heath is a 22-year-old goalkeeper who joined the club at the end of October 2016. The young stopper had been with Rugby Town most recently, having also played at Step 4 level for Daventry Town. He had to wait for his Diamonds debut, but immediately impressed when deputising for the club’s regular stopper Matt Finlay during the 2016/17 season. He assumed first-choice keeper status for the 2017-18 season, and had an impressive campaign as the club conceded only 25 league goals and he recorded 22 clean sheets in the 42 league games.

Nathan Pickworth is a goalkeeper who signed on dual registration terms with Bugbrooke St Michaels, to add goal keeping cover prior to the start of the 2018/19 season. The 18 year old had been recently released from the MK Dons Academy, and had impressed at the Diamonds during the pre-season matches.

 

Defenders

Liam Dolman is a 30-year-old defender, who joined the club from Daventry Town during June 2014. He is from Northamptonshire, and started his career with Northampton Town, progressing from youth level to the first team, making his league debut at the end of the 2006/07 season and making over 50 appearances in League and FA Cup games for the Cobblers in the next two seasons. He then had a short spell playing Conference Football for Kidderminster Harriers in 2009/10 before joining Banbury United before moving to Daventry Town. After joining the Diamonds he had a successful first campaign, picking up the Manager’s Player of the Season award in 2014/15, as well as a Player of the Month award for February 2015 when he scored 6 goals from 4 games from his centre-back role. His goal at Long Buckby was also chosen as goal of the season. He was a mainstay of the side in the 2015/16 season, picking up a player of the month award for his memorable contribution to the Diamonds record run in the FA Cup. The 2016/17 season was also a successful one as he took awards as the fans’ and players’ player of the season, as well as the manager’s player of the season award. He also reached a century of appearances for the club during that campaign, and has now scored 30 goals for the club. He won the Manager’s player of the season award again in 2017/18.

Jack Ashton is a 28-year old defender, who joined the Diamonds on a dual registration basis with Stamford AFC in March 2014. He joined the Daniels in 2013 from Banbury United, with whom he had two spells either side of playing for Oxford City. He originally joined Banbury from Cogenhoe United, having previously had a spell at Long Buckby. He appeared in the final six games of the season in 2013-14, and won the April 2014 Player of the Month award. He picked up two further Player of the Month Awards in 2014/15, and also won the Fans Player of the Season award as well as the Players’ Player of the Season trophy. Despite injury problems during 2015/16 he won two further player of the month awards as well as picking up the goal of the season award for his late winner that clinched the Hillier Senior Cup. After a promising start to the 2016/17 campaign a further knee injury ended his season in November after just 13 appearances that campaign. After a long lay-off, missing almost all of 2017, he returned to the Diamonds starting line-up at the start of 2018, reaching his century of Diamonds appearances during February 2018.

Sam Brown is a 25-year-old defender who was a junior at the Centre of Excellence at Rushden & Diamonds FC. He joined AFC Kempston Rovers in 2009, aged 16, and helped them to reach the UCL Premier in 2010. Sam made 35(1) appearances during 2012-13, scoring two goals towards the end of the season, and winning the club Player of the Month award in January and April 2013. He also won the Manager’s Player of the Season award in 2012-13. He made 48 appearances for the Diamonds in 2013/14. In 2014/15 he reached his century of appearances for the Diamonds. After being a key part of the Diamonds setup at all three levels they have played he finished the 2015-16 season early in order to travel abroad. He returned for the 2016/17 season, when he appeared in 49 matches. A further impressive season in 2017/18 meant he reached over 250 appearances for the club.

Zack Reynolds is a 24-year-old full back who can also play in wide midfield. He joined the club from Chesham United prior to the start of the 2018/19 season. He started as a junior with Rushden & Diamonds, and completed his scholarship with Crawley Town. He then played for Aylesbury United before a number of short-term deals prior to joining Dunstable Town, from when he move to Chesham at the start of last season.

Jack Westbrook is a 23-year-old defender / defensive midfielder who joined the club in November 2017. He had made over 150 appearances for Banbury United. He quickly established himself in the Diamonds first-team, playing a pivotal midfield role, making 27 appearances as the club won promotion to Step 3 of non-league football.

Blaize Punter is a 21-year-old Centre Back who joined the club in Summer 2017. He was a junior at Mansfield Town before joining Nuneaton Town Under-21 setup. He then played at Barwell before joining Rugby Town. He has played international football with Antigua & Barbuda. He appeared in 27 league games in the Diamonds promotion winning season 2017-18.

Cameron Gilchrist is a defender aged 21 who signed for the club in October 2017. He had played for the Diamonds in pre season, but then signed for Barwell, but moved to the Diamonds after finding his first team appearances were limited there. Previously Cameron played for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the SPL. He had made 12 appearances for the club prior to the start of the 2018/19 season.

Callum Westwood is a 20-year-old right back who signed for the club on dual registration terms with Kettering Town in January 2017. He was previously dual registered with the Poppies and Rugby Town. Before signing for the Poppies he was with the Northampton Town Youth Academy. After an impressive debut was cut short by injury he was able to make 10 appearances for the club in 2016/17. In the following season he signed full terms with the club and made a further 30 appearances.

 

Midfielders

Ben Farrell is a 32-year-old midfielder who joined the club from Bedford Town in December 2016. Ben has had several spells with Bedford Town, and earlier in his career made the step up from the Eagles to play Conference football with Cambridge United. He then had spells with Weymouth, Cambridge City and St Neots Town along with Arlesey Town before rejoining the Eagles. He impressed in the Diamonds midfield in the 2016/17 season, appearing 30 times as well as scoring the club’s goal of the season. His successes with the club continued in the 2017/18 season, winning three Player of the Month awards as well as Supporters’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season award. He was the club’s top goalscorer in the 2017-18 season, scoring 19 goals.

Ross Oulton is a 27-year-old midfielder who joined the club in August 2016 having most recently been with Leamington FC. Prior to his time with the Brakes he was with Bedford Town and Rugby Town, having begun his career with Northampton Town. After picking up an injury in an FA Cup game early in the season he missed most of the 2016-17 campaign, making just 16 appearances. He was sidelined due to further injury issues for the first part of the 2017-18 season, returning early in 2018.

Shawn Richards is a 27-year old wide midfielder who normally plays on the right wing and can also play in a more forward position. He first joined the club in December 2015, having previously been playing with Stamford at Step 3, He was the Daniels’ longest serving player when he left them, having been a member of the squad which won promotion into the Northern Premier League in 2012/13. His previous clubs include Northampton Town, Rugby Town, Soham Town, Quorn and Loughborough Dynamo. He moved up to higher level football when he joined Brackley Town prior to the start of the 2016/17 season, but rejoined the Diamonds in March 2017. After leaving prior to the start of the 2017/18 season he rejoined prior to the 2018/19 campaign.

Nathan Hicks joined the club shortly before the start of the 2018/19 season. Nathan is a 27-year-old attacking central midfielder who played at Step 3 level for Biggleswade Town during the 2017/18 season scoring five times, after starting the campaign with Kettering Town at the same level. His previous clubs also include Histon, Leamington and Alfreton Town.

Joe Curtis is a 24-year-old midfielder who joined the club before the start of the 2016-17 season. He had played at Daventry Town and Spalding United in the 2015-16 season, having previously been at Stamford and Brackley Town. He graduated through the youth system at Southampton, having also been a junior with Leicester City before a serious injury saw his release. He picked up an injury during the pre-season, and only managed 16 appearances in central midfield for the club during the 2016-17 season, but returned to play a regular role in the 2017-18 season.

Joel Gyasi is a 24-year-old wide midfield / forward player who first joined the club in October 2014. He started his career with the MK Dons Academy, After playing 23 games for Kettering Town he joined Bedford Town in 2013, where he made 16 appearances before a move to Northampton Sileby Rangers. After making 9 appearances for the Diamonds he signed for Daventry Town before moving abroad to spend 18 months playing in the third tier of Swedish football. He returned to the Diamonds in Summer 2017. During the successful 2017-18 campaign he made 46 appearances for the club, picking up a player of the month award.

Dan Clifton joined the club shortly before the start of the 2018/19 season. Dan is a 21-year-old attacking central midfielder who was a junior with the Northampton Town Academy. After a loan spell with Rugby Town he moved on to Hitchin Town, from where he was dual registered with Corby Town. He has also appeared at Step 3 level with Biggleswade Town.

Ty Ward is a young midfielder who joined AFC Rushden & Diamonds from Dunstable Town prior to the start of the 2018/19 season. Ty had made the step up from the Dunstable Development Squad to the first team during the 2017-18 season and impressed at the Diamonds during a pre-season trial period. He made his debut for the club in the second game of the season.

 

Strikers

Tom Lorraine is a 28-year-old striker who joined the club from Cogenhoe United at the end of March 2014, where he was registered with Daventry Town on a “dual-registration” basis. He had appeared for Woodford United, Banbury and Bedworth United earlier in his career. He was the club’s top scorer in their promotion winning 2014/15 campaign scoring 19 goals, but showed his flexibility by playing in midfield towards the end of the season to provide much-needed cover in that position. He was also the top scorer in 2015/16 with 15 goals as the club played their first season at Step 4, picking up the Manager’s player of the season award. He became the club’s overall top scorer during the 2016/17 season, passing his half-century of goals during his Diamonds’ career. During that campaign he also picked up two player of the month awards, scoring a further 18 goals. In 2017/18 he repeated that feat as he helped the club to gain promotion to Step 3, scoring 16 goals from 32 starts and being awarded two Player of the Month awards.

Ben Diamond is a 24-year-old attacking player who joined the club from Corby Town in November 2017, scoring on his debut for the club. Before joining the Steelmen he played at ON Chenecks, facing the Diamonds at both Youth and Senior level. In the 2016/17 season he scored 18 goals for Chenecks.

Jack Bowen is a 24-year-old striker who joined the club on a dual registration basis with Cogenhoe United in March 2016 after scoring 29 goals in 47 games for the Cooks during the 2015/16 season. He made an immediate impact in the Diamonds side during the end of season run-in, including a major role in the first play-off game at St Ives. He moved to Brackley Town at the end of the season, making the move to Step 2 football. He scored 3 goals in his 5 appearances for the club. He started a loan spell back with the Diamonds in March 2017 and made a further 13 appearances before the loan period ended at the end of that season, bringing his goals total to 6 for the club. He joined Biggleswade Town prior to the start of the 2017/18 season.

John Dean is a 24-year-old striker who joined the club on dual-registration terms with Desborough Town of the United Counties League in October 2017. After focussing on the Cup exploits of Ar Tarn he became a regular member of the Diamonds First Team squad early in 2018. He made 9 appearances for the club at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Leon Lobjoit joined the club in August 2018 on a dual-registration basis with Brackley Town. Leon is a 23-year-old striker who signed for Northampton Town after scoring 60 goals for Buckingham Town. He was then loaned out a number of times last season before joining Brackley.

Albie Hopkins joined the club on a 28-day Youth Loan from Oxford United in mid-August 2018. Albie was the Us top scorer in their under 18s last year, and has been on the bench for the first team. He is an 18-year-old left sided player, who can play as a winger or as a striker.

 

 
 
 

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