Chris Hope gives an insight into a “Proper Club”

 AFC Rushden & Diamonds Club Captain Chris Hope spoke to David Cockings after the Easter Monday game at Victoria Mill, and, after talking about the match itself, Chris went on to talk in more detail about the club itself. – and this part of the conversation is detailed below.

How have you found it at AFC Rushden & Diamonds?

“I’ve loved it. I’ve always been committed to the club, and I think I showed that when I came to the first meeting that Ralph chaired. It was such a shame when the old club went under, but the good thing for me coming back is you see the likes of Starms and all the boys on the board involved here that were there week-in / week-out when I was with Diamonds the first time. Like I’ve always said, it’s a bit like “family” more than anything else.

“It’s going places, this club – the aim is to get up this season, and hopefully we can do that, but if we don’t, I’m confident it will happen going forwards. I think that sometimes it’s not that easy to just throw a side together, but credit should go to the Management Team who’ve now got a strong squad, and they’ve got the right players in to take the club forwards. We didn’t quite have that at the start of the season, but they’ve brought the lads in who’ve done terrifically, and it’s shown by the magnificent run we’re on at the moment – but we’ve got to keep on it.”

We’ve got a young team, and you’re the elder statesman. Do you find you have to guide them along sometimes and point them in the right direction?

“I think that probably is my role at the club. Of late I’ve been a little unfortunate with work commitments and so on, and couldn’t play as much, and Parky’s come in – another experienced head. To be fair he’s been terrific, him and Deaks, so I turned up on Saturday and didn’t think I’d probably play, but I was pleased to get back in the team. I see my role as using that experience to guide people into the right places, and to be a “talker” and that’s always been my game. If I can help the club that way this season then that’s good.

“I still enjoy it, and I still feel fit – I know there’s a few people that say my legs might be going, but if anyone saw me sprint back from the corner they’ll have seen I’ve got a bit of pace still!” 

You know all about the club as a whole, and you’ve been supportive of the Ladies Team, and helped out with their training, and are involved with Youth football yourself – do you think football clubs should be run this way? 

“Definitely. It’s easy to come on camera and be very complimentary, but away from here, when I speak to people, I say it’s a proper club. I’ve been fortunate to play League football, and it’s run like a League club. Alright, we’re not training every day, but we want for nothing, and the coaching staff are different class. You’ve got Deano doing the fitness side of it, and the managers and coaches know their stuff, as do the board. It just shows how passionate things are when we’ve had that bad weather and people are out there on the pitch trying to get the game on – and stuff like that. We’ve got a lot of teams playing youth football, and the girls team – it’s a proper club. 

“The vibe in the dressing room when I speak to the lads is that they haven’t experienced anything like this – and I think it’s what draws people to the club. I’m sure that at the end of the season Starms and Ralph will probably get a million phone calls “can I come and join your club” – and the reason is it’s just so well run.”

Thanks Chris, another excellent game today in a good season for you, and next is a short trip to Northampton on Saturday.

“Yes. We set ourselves a target and we’ve just got to keep heading towards it, but we know none of the other teams are going to make it easy for us. We’ve got to give 100% and if we show the effort like we have done on this run then we can see it through and put the ball into the other teams’ court and see what they can come up with.”

 You can hear (and see) Chris giving this interview following the Match highlights of Monday’s game here.

Over the Easter period Radio Diamonds also recorded a couple of interviews – one with Sam Brown as he recovers from injury, and one with R&DFC double-title winner Gary Mills. You can listen to those interviews on the Radio Diamonds page here.

 Photographs courtesy of Mal Swinden.