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 22/2/19.
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 twice before winning promotion to Step 3 at the end of the 2017-18 season.
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
Ben Heath is a 23-year-old goalkeeper who joined the club at the end of October 2016, after a spell with Rugby Town, having also played at Step 4 level for Daventry Town. He made his Diamonds debut the following day in a dramatic game at Spalding, then continued to impress 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 19-year-old stopper had been recently released from the MK Dons Academy, and had impressed at the Diamonds during the pre-season matches. He made his first team debut in a NFA Hillier Senior Cup game in September 2018.
Liam Dolman is a 31-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 26-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 25-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.
Alex Collard is a centre-back who joined the Diamonds at the end of November 2018 having recently left Kempston Rovers. He had previously played for a number of clubs in the Aylesbury area, including over 50 appearances for Aylesbury United, as well as at Chichester City whilst he was a student in that area. He is 23 years-of-age, and joined Kempston in December 2017.
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.
Declan Rogers rejoined the club in September 2018 having previously played for the Diamonds in 2015. The 28-year-old midfield / forward player originally joined from UCL rivals Huntingdon Town, where he was club captain. He appeared in 18 games for the Diamonds towards the end of the 2014/15 season, scoring 8 goals during the title run-in. He left the club at the end of the 2014/15 season to join Wisbech Town. After a short period there he joined Peterborough Northern Star in September 2015, moving to St Ives early in 2016 before joining St Neots Town for the 2016/17 season. For the 2017/18 season he stepped down to the UCL for a while to play for Eynesbury Rovers, before moving back to Step 3 level with St Ives in December 2017.
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.
Sam Johnson joined the club at the end of November 2018, having had a short spell with Kempston Rovers following his return from time playing and coaching in New Zealand. A wide-midfielder in his mid-twenties. he spent his junior career in East Anglia before an initial spell with Kempston Rovers. helping them to gain promotion.
Joe Curtis is a 25-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 Acquaye joined the club from Kempston Rovers at the end of December 2018. Ben is an attacking midfielder who had just celebrated his 19th birthday when he joined the club. He had made 24 appearances for Rovers in the 2018/19 season, scoring 7 goals, as well as picking up a number of assists. Prior to joining Kempston in February, Ben was with Buckingham Athletic.
Tom Lorraine is a 29-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 25-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 25-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 25-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. After he was limited to regular substitute appearances in the first half of the 2018-19 season he rejoined Desborough on dual registration terms at the start of 2019 to improve match fitness before returning to the Diamonds first team during February.
Dual Registrations / Youth Team Players
The following players are dual-registered or on loan deals to / from other clubs.
Blaize Punter is a 22-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. He signed dual registration terms with Melton Town in November 2018, but returned to many a number of key appearances for the Diamonds towards the end of 2018 before continuing with Melton Town in early 2019.
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. He signed dual registration terms with Melton Town in October 2018.
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. He was initially dual registered with AFC Hinckley, but most recently played for Melton Town.
Patrick Casey is a young defender who graduated to the first team squad after impressing at Academy level and in pre-season games. Spent time with Northampton Town Academy as well as in the Diamonds Youth Set-up. Made his first team debut aged 17 in a Hillier Senior Cup Game in September 2018, following that up with a Man of the Match appearance in the following round. He also signed for Bugbrooke St Michaels on dual registration, playing for them in the UCL.