As Members and supporters of AFC Rushden & Diamonds will be aware, since its formation the Club has continued the tradition, originally established at Rushden & Diamonds FC, that the first team goalkeeper does not wear the number 1 shirt in memory of Dale Roberts.
No team representing AFC R&D at any level, of which there are a total of 36 for the 2015/16 season, has ever used the number 1 shirt and only two such shirts have been produced to this date. One of these hangs in “Dale’s Bar” at the ground and a second has been presented to Mr and Mrs Roberts, Dale’s parents.
When the Club first joined the United Counties League in 2012 and made representation to the UCL Board regarding the above issue, their response was one of compassion and understanding. A small alteration was subsequently made to the wording of the League rule relating to player numbers which allowed the starting AFC R&D goalkeeper to wear the number 17 shirt. AFC Rushden & Diamonds would like to place on record our sincere thanks to the United Counties League for their support in this matter.
Following promotion to the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central, the Club made a request to the Southern League Board to provide similar special dispensation for the starting goalkeeper to wear the number 17. This request was denied.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds has subsequently made an appeal against this decision to the Football Association which, at the time of writing, has not been concluded. Therefore, in accordance with Evo-Stik League Southern rules, the starting goalkeeper of the AFC R&D first team will wear the number 1 shirt in all Evo-Stik League Southern and Red Insure Cup matches, commencing on Saturday 8th August vs Petersfield Town.
The Club’s other 35 teams will continue to use the numbers 13, 17, 24 and 86 for their goalkeepers.
Dale’s memory will always be cherished and respected by everyone at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Updates on the progress of the appeal with Football Association as well as any other relevant information will be provided by the Club as soon as they become available. Please note that this is an ongoing situation, and as such the club cannot comment further.
Following the release of this news story, an AFC Rushden & Diamonds supporter has started an online petition against the decision: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-against-the-southern-leagues-decision.