An Introduction to AFC Rushden & Diamonds
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. 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.
They currently play at the Dog & Duck in Wellingborough, and 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.
The AFC Rushden & Diamonds Management Team and First Team Squad for the 2015/16 season are detailed below. Further squad members will be linked to the AFC R&D U21 Squad. For individual profiles including game and competition stats see here, and for general player and game stats for last season see here. Player ages correct as of 12/4/16.
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.
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.
First Team Physiotherapist – Kelly Freeman / Colin Hodsden
Matt Finlay joined the club from Cogenhoe United at the end of January 2014. The 35-year-old goalkeeper joined the Cooks in August 2013 after playing in the Northern Premier League Division One South to help Stamford win promotion to step 3 in the 2012-13 season, joining the Daniels from Banbury United. He had previously played for Woodford United, helping the Reds win the UCL Premier Division title and then playing for them in the Southern League. He has also played for Raunds Town, Bedford Town, Daventry Town, Brackley Town, St Neots Town, Wellingborough Town and Oxford City. He made 13 appearances for the Diamonds in 2013/14, but became a mainstay of the side as they won the League and Cup double in 2014/15, appearing 46 times.
Alex Vitue is a 21-year-old goalkeeper who progressed through the ranks of the AFC R&D youth system. After a period gaining senior experience elsewhere he rejoined the club in the summer of 2015, gaining further valuable experience with the Diamonds U21 setup.
Jason Lee is a 33-year-old defender who signed for the club from Daventry Town in March 2016. Jason was team captain at Daventry, having previously played for a number of clubs including Kings Lynn and Kettering Town. He can play at left-back or centre-back and won league titles at both the Linnets and Poppies, He was on Rugby Town’s books for a short while, and has played for other clubs in the area including Banbury United and Long Buckby.
Liam Dolman is a 28-year-old defender, who joined the club from Daventry Town during June 2014. Liam can either play at centre back or full back and was club captain at Daventry, as well as being named Supporters’ Player of the Season in 2013/14. 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. He then moved to Daventry Town where played at Step 4 level in the Southern League Division One Central. He had a successful first campaign with the club, 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.
Jack Ashton is a 25-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.
Luke Hipwell is a 25 year old left full back who joined the club from Wisbech Town in late December 2015. He started his career at Cambridge United, before joining Soham Town Rangers in 2009. A move to Peterborough Northern Star followed in 2011 before joining Yaxley FC. In the 2015-16 season he followed manager Brett Whalley to Wisbech Town.
Charlie Butt is a 20-year-old right back / midfielder who joined the club in October 2014. Although most recently signed with Corby Town, he started out with the Peterborough United Academy before moving to Kings Lynn Town, and has also had short spells at Lincoln United and Wisbech Town. After starting as a fringe player he began to get more game-time as the season progressed, and went on to make 21 appearances in 2014/15.
Connor Kennedy is a 19-year-old full back who joined the club on loan from Corby Town towards the end of December 2015. He can play on either side and had featured against the Diamonds for Desborough Town, Stewarts & Lloyds and Corby Town. He has previously played for Thrapston Town and Kettering Town along with a loan spell at Daventry earlier in the 2015-16 season. He had a spell as a junior with Rushden & Diamonds.
Richard Bunting is a 34-year-old midfielder who joined the club from Kings Lynn Town in November 2013. He had captained the Linnets to the Northern Premier League Division One South title in the 2012-13 season. In the previous season he was captain for Long Buckby when they won the United Counties Premier League title. He played for Cogenhoe United, Raunds Town and Brackley earlier in his career. He made 14(4) appearances for the Diamonds in 2013/14 with his goal at Newport Pagnell picking up the goal of the season award. He became club captain in 2014/15 helping the Diamonds pick up the League and Cup double in the UCL.
Andy Hall is a 30-year-old midfielder who joined the club from Stamford AFC in October 2015. Andy is best known as a winger, but can also play in a more central role, and he has had recent success with both Stamford and Kettering Town, helping both clubs achieve promotion from Step 4 to Step 3. As well as two spells with both of those clubs he has also featured for Corby Town, Kings Lynn Town, Hinckley United and Nuneaton after starting out as a junior with Coventry City.
Tom Manship joined the club in March 2016. The 29-year-old midfielder was previously with Corby Town, who he had joined in February 2016. He had previously played 150 games at Step 1 and 2 level at Hyde United and Hinckley, as well as having a spell in the professional game after being signed by John Ward for Cheltenham Town. He was with West Bromwich Albion and Mansfield Town during his progression through youth football, during which time he had loan spells with Rugby Town and Grantham. He has also had spells with Kidderminster Harriers and Gainsborough Trinity.
Dan Quigley is a 26-year-old midfielder who joined the club in June 2015 from Kings Lynn Town where he played for them at Step 3 level, having played alongside Richard Bunting to help the Linnets win promotion from Step 4. He played for Long Buckby during their UCL title winning season in 2011-12.
Brad Harris is a 25-year-old midfielder who joined the club from Desborough Town in December 2012. He can play in central midfield or at centre-back. He started his career at Rugby Town, and played at Daventry Town and Long Buckby before joining Northampton Spencer where he played under Diamonds Manager Andy Peaks. After joining the Diamonds he made 19(3) appearances in the remainder of the 2012-13 season. He made 33(9) appearances for the Diamonds in 2013/14, picking up the Player of the Month award in March 2014. In 2014/15 he reached his century of appearances for the Diamonds, scoring some memorable goals which helped him earn two further Player of the Month awards.
Shawn Richards is a 25-year old wide midfielder who normally plays on the right wing. He 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. Shawn’s previous clubs include Northampton Town, Rugby Town, Soham Town, Quorn and Loughborough Dynamo. After appearing in 14 games for the Diamonds, winning the January 2016 player of the month award, he signed for Step 3 Rushall Olympic in March 2016.
Lewis Leslie is a 24-year-old midfielder, who joined the club from Cogenhoe United in November 2015, making his league debut during that month. Lewis came through the youth ranks at Compton Park to become a regular first-team player for Cogenhoe. Although he missed the 2013-14 season due to a knee injury he recovered to play 41 times for the Cooks during the 2014-15 season, scoring 12 goals.
Claudiu Hoban is a Romanian-born 24-year-old midfield player (also known as Claudio), who often plays wide-left, but he can also play centrally or on the right. He joined the club in August 2015, and previously had two spells with Corby Town, including at the end of the 2014-15 season. He was a junior with Leicester City, and after an injury problem led to him being released he went to Rugby Town and then on to Daventry Town and Histon. During this period he was a finalist in the Samsung “Win A Pro Contract” competition. Since then he has been with Sutton United and Tamworth before a spell with Kettering Town and then rejoining the Steelmen.
Jon Stevenson is a 33-year-old striker, who joined the club in January 2016. Jon started his career at Leicester City as a trainee and featured 12 times in the premier league between 2000 and 2003. He has also featured for Swindon Town, Cambridge City, Alfreton Town, Tamworth, Hinckley, Boston Utd, Corby Town, Oadby Town and during the 2014-15 season he was at Barwell.
Elliott Sandy is a 30-year-old attacking midfielder / forward player who joined the club from Kettering Town, in March 2016. He had helped the Poppies to the Southern League Division One Central title in the 2014-15 season, scoring 16 goals after he rejoined the club three months into the season. During three stints with the Poppies he also helped them to the Division One Playoffs, and prior to that Elliot had been with Brackley Town at various levels up to Conference North (Step 2). He started his career as a youth team player at Northampton Town, where he was a teammate of Liam Dolman, before joining Cogenhoe United prior to his time with Brackley.
Tom Lorraine is a 26-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. Tom had joined Daventry Town from Bedworth United at the start of the season, and after starting 21 times and scoring 8 goals, he registered on UCL terms for Cogenhoe a month earlier, but only had the chance to make a single start for the Cooks. He had appeared for Woodford United and Banbury United earlier in his career. He scored two goals in five games for the Diamonds at the end of the 2013/14 campaign. He was the club’s top scorer in their successful 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.
Tom Liversedge is a 26-year-old striker who joined the club in October 2015. He joined the club from Belper Town having started the season with Rugby Town. During the 2014-15 season he scored 18 goals for Bedford Town in the Southern League Division One Central, after scoring 26 goals in the UCL the previous season. He has previously had spells with Gresley, Sutton Coldfield, Cogenhoe, Stamford, Woodford, Bedworth Utd and Wellingborough Town.
Nabil Shariff is a 23-year-old striker, who joined the club from Daventry Town in January 2016. Nabil began his career at Rushden & Diamonds FC making his league debut in the 2010-11 season. He was given a first league start in April 2011, scoring three goals in his first two full games in the North East. He started the final game played by R&DFC. Originating from Milton Keynes, he joined the Diamonds Centre of Excellence at the start of his Under 14 year, working through the ranks to Conference level. Since leaving R&DFC he has played for a number of clubs, including spells with Tamworth, Banbury United, Corby Town and Stamford.
Robbie Parsons is an 18-year-old striker who joined the club on a dual registration basis in February 2016. He had previously gone on loan from Northampton Town to Wealdstone FC.
Players on Dual-Registrations
Jack Bowen is a 22-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.
The following players are signed to play in the Southern Football League for AFC Rushden & Diamonds but are currently also in the first team squad at other clubs.
Joe Merrill is a versatile 24-year-old who can play as a sweeper, full-back or in midfield, and he also joined the club from Northampton Spencer in the summer of 2012. He made 29 league and cup appearances for the Millers in the UCL Premier in 2011-12. Joe made 25(5) appearances during 2012-13, scoring a goal in the game at Rushden & Higham and winning the club Player of the Month award in September 2012. He made 41(2) appearances for the Diamonds in 2013/14, bracketing the season with goals at the start and end of the campaign. His campaign in 2014/15 was affected by an injury picked up during the autumn, but he returned to the side shortly before the end of the season. Shortly after the start of the 2015/16 campaign it was announced he had signed for UCL side Northampton Sileby Rangers on a dual-registration basis.
Elliott Lamb-Johnson joined the club from Cogenhoe United at the end of May 2014, Now aged 20, he can play on either wing, as well as in a more central role. He made 28 appearances for Cogenhoe in the UCL, scoring 5 goals and scooping the “Young Player of the Year” prize at the end of season awards. He played in 34 games for the Diamonds in 2014/15, scoring 6 goals and picking up 16 assists. After a long spell out due to injury in late 2015 he signed dual-registration forms with Cogenhoe United early in 2016.
Joe Ackroyd was a member of the Diamonds U18 and U21 setups when he made his first-team debut in the UCL KO Cup quarter final in May 2015. having recently turned 17. He had graduated through two junior levels of the AFC R&D Academy before joining the AFC R&D / MAA setup. He is a versatile player who has played as sweeper for the U21 side, and in midfield for the U18 side. Still aged 17 he then appeared for the first team as a substitute in their FA Cup Third Qualifying Round victory in October 2015. He joined Cogenhoe United on a dual registration basis in March 2016, and is now aged 18.
Matt Pinder is an 18-year-old striker who had a successful first season with the Diamonds / MAA U18 side. While still part of the U18 setup he stepped up to the first team squad in November 2015, and made an immediate impact helping to set up a late goal within five minutes of his debut appearance. He joined Cogenhoe United on a dual registration basis in March 2016.
Under-21 Squad Members
The following players from the Diamonds U21 squad have also appeared for the first team this season in League Cup / County Cup Games.
Dan Campbell (Forward – 28)
Mate Kadar (Midfield – 25)
James Harvey (Wide Midfield – 17)
Other Squad Members
Darren Purse is a 38-year-old defender who signed Southern League forms for the club in late December 2015, having already been with the Diamonds as manager of the AFC R&D / MAA U18 side. Darren had been playing for Staines Town in the Isthmian League at Step 3 level during the 2015-16 season. He is vastly experienced, having played in all four divisions of the Football League. He appeared 168 times for Birmingham City and 111 times for Cardiff City. He also appeared over 50 times for Sheffield Wednesday and over 40 times for Plymouth Argyle. In his younger days he was also an England U-21 international.
Sam Brown is a 23-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.
Harrison Desborough is a wide midfield player aged 17 who is member of the AFC R&D / MAA U18 squad. He made his first team league debut in December 2015 when appearing as a second half substitute.