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. 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 have returned to the Southern League to play in Division One East, known as EVO-Stik League South, East.
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 2017-18
The AFC Rushden & Diamonds Management Team and First Team Squad for the 2017/18 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 individual profiles including game and competition stats see here. Player ages correct as of 27/3/18.
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 / Colin Hodsden
Kyle Swailes is a 24-year-old goalkeeper who joined the club to provide cover in August 2017. He is also currently UCL-registered with Rushden & Higham United. He was part of the academy system at Nene Park with Rushden & Diamonds FC before joining Raunds Town.
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.
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.
Jack Ashton is a 27-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.
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.
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.
Cameron Gilchrist is a defender aged 20 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.
Callum Westwood is a 19-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.
Ben Farrell is a 31-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.
Brad Harris is a 27-year-old midfielder who originally 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. Further contributions to the side in the next two seasons saw him become the first Diamonds player to reach a double century of appearances as he played much of the 2016/17 season in a defensive role. He rejoined Rugby Town at the start of the 2017/18 season, returning to the Diamonds at the end of March 2918.
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.
Claudiu Hoban is a 26-year-old Romanian-born midfield player (also known as Claudio), who often plays wide-left, but he can also play centrally or on the right. He originally 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. After a successful 2015-16 season, appearing in 48 games for the club, he left the club due to relocation prior to the 2016-17 season. He then joined Tooting & Mitcham Utd in the Ryman League Div One South. Shortly after the start of the 2017-18 season he rejoined the Diamonds.
Luke Fairlamb initially signed for AFC Rushden & Diamonds in January 2015 but moved on to Bedford Town without making a first team appearance. Luke is a 25 year-old midfield / forward player who was born in Northants and was on junior books with several local clubs, playing in various positions including left back and left midfield. he was playing college football in the USA for Saint Peter’s College in New Jersey. He rejoined the club in July 2017, and signed a contract with the club for the 2017/18 season shortly afterwards.
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.
Ben Ford is a 22-year-old midfielder / utility player who joined the club at the end of October 2016. He was part of the Rushden & Diamonds FC youth setup before transferring across to the Kettering Town system, prior to getting first team experience at UCL level with Newport Pagnell. He then signed professional terms at Kettering, playing in the Football Conference for the Poppies, before earning a deal at Nuneaton Town. This was followed by spells with Hinckley United, Bedworth United, St Neots Town, Biggleswade Town and Arlesey Town. He signed for Chesham United in September 2015, and appeared 16 times for the Southern League Premier side. After joining the Diamonds he was dual-registered with Newport Pagnell Town and played a part in their FA Vase campaign. In total he appeared 21 times in either a wide left role or at left back in 2016/17, and started the 2017/18 season in a left back role.
Spencer Weir-Daley is a 32-year-old striker who joined the club from Halesowen Town in March 2018, having scored 14 goals in 23 games at Redditch United at Step 3 this season. He has previously played for local teams Kettering Town and Corby Town where he scored 22 goals in 40 games and 27 goals in 47 games respectively. He has also played for Hednesford Town, Boston United, AFC Telford United and Notts County, having started his career at Nottingham Forest.
Ryan Robbins is 29-year-old striker when joined from Gresley FC in November 2017, having previously played for Barwell, Stamford and Coalville in recent seasons, following earlier spells with Boston United and Kings Lynn Town. He is also a St Kitts & Nevis international.
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.
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.
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 2017.
Joel Gyasi is a 23-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.
The following players are linked with the club but either not actively appearing in the match-day squad, or otherwise making limited appearances due to injury, unavailability, being part of other squads at the club or dual-registration with other clubs.
Chief Boateng is a 23-year-old striker who joined the club in August 2017 after a successful trial during pre-season. He had played in local Northampton leagues previously. He is also dual registered with Daventry Town of the UCL Premier.
Harry Henbury is a 22-year-old attacking midfielder / forward player who has played in the United Counties League for Yaxley, having been with Histon on their scholarship programme. He plays for Kettering Futsal club in the National Futsal League Division 2, helping them win the title in the 2016/17 season. He joined the club shortly before the start of the 2017/18 season, and signed dual-registration terms with Harborough Town shortly into the season.
Ben Burton is a 21-year-old Left Back who was able to join the Shrewsbury Town Youth system, stepping up from the Development Centre at Market Harborough. From there he joined St Neots Town, and has since been with Soham Town Rangers and Haverhill Rovers. He stepped up from the Diamonds Elite Youth Squad to join the First Team squad for their FA Cup game in August 2017.
Isaac Watson is a 19-year-old wide player who graduated from the Development Centre at Market Harborough to play at Harborough Town. He stepped up from the Diamonds Elite Youth Squad to join the First Team squad for their FA Cup game in August 2017.
Kenny Shipley is an 18-year-old graduate from the Diamonds Academy system. He plays in a forward role, and has represented Northamptonshire at Youth Level. He is also part of the new Diamonds Elite Youth Squad.
Hayford Osei is a 17-year-old striker who impressed for the AFC R&D / MAA U18 side for two seasons prior to earning a call-up to the first team squad for the County Cup in 2017/18.
Ryan Baird is an 18-year-old midfielder who has impressed over two seasons with the AFC R&D / MAA U18 side. He was praised by the U18 Manager, Darren Purse – “He’s got great technique, great footwork and he can get around the pitch, but he’s a little bit slight and that’s the reservation I have, would he get bullied a bit in men’s football? The only way to find out is to put him in there.” He made his debut for the senior team in December 2016 aged 17. For the 2017/18 season he has joined the Diamonds Elite Youth Squad.