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 are now playing in their second season 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, Ladies / Girls 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 2019-20
The AFC Rushden & Diamonds Management Team and First Team Squad for the 2019/20 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 1/2/20.
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.
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 Coach – Neil Champelovier. Neil Champelovier joined the club as first team head coach in August 2019 to work alongside the current manager Andy Peaks. Former midfielder Champelovier played for Northampton Town, Brackley Town, Banbury Utd, Oxford City, Aylesbury Utd, Daventry Town and Woodford Utd. Neil has management experience with assistant manager roles at Cogenhoe Utd and two spells at Daventry Town.
Ben Heath is a 24-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. He was an “ever-present” in the Diamonds side during their first League season at Step 3 in 2018-19. During that season he reached his century of appearances for the club.
Liam Dolman is a 32-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. He signed a contract with the club for the 2019/20 season during the summer of 2019.
Jack Ashton is a 29-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 27-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 26-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. In a successful 2018-19 season he appeared in 40 league and cup games, winning the Players’ Player of the Season award as well as a Player of the Month award. He signed a contract with the club for the 2019/20 season during the summer of 2019.
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 24 years-of-age, and joined Kempston in December 2017. In an impressive first season with the Diamonds he picked up two Player of the Month Awards during the 2018/19 campaign. He signed a contract with the club for the 2019/20 season during the summer of 2019.
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 during the 2018/19 season, playing for them in the UCL. Now aged 18, he signed senior forms ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Ben Farrell is a 33-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. During 2018/19 season he reached his century of appearances for the club, playing at the Step 3 level of Non-League Football.
Nathan Hicks joined the club shortly before the start of the 2018/19 season. Nathan is a 28-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. After a successful campaign in 2018-19 when he made 47 league and cup appearances he was awarded the Manager’s Player of the Season Award to go with a Player of the Month award for April 2019.
Nat Gosnal-Taylor is a winger who joined the club from Rushden and Higham United having impressed in the series of friendlies prior to the 2019/20 season. He is 25 years of age.
Jesse Akubuine is a midfielder who signed for the Diamonds following some impressive performances during pre season for the 2019/20 campaign. 21 year old Jesse came through the Brentford academy, and before joining the Diamonds had a couple of years in Scotland with Queen of the South and Cumbernauld Colts.
Ben Acquaye joined the club from Kempston Rovers at the end of December 2018. Ben is a 20-year-old attacking midfielder. 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. After patiently waiting for his first team chance, and following a number of cameo appearances as substitute, he was rewarded with a first-team start in April 2019. In the 2019/20 season he established himself as a regular starter in the Diamonds first team, winning three of the first four “Player of the Month” awards that season.
Matthew Slinn is an 18-year-old midfielder who joined the club in summer 2019 having been released from the Northampton Town Academy. He turned 18 earlier in 2019.
Tom Lorraine is a 30-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. In 2018/19 he continued his goalscoring form, winning the “Golden Boot” as well as the Supporters’ Player of the Season award.
Nabil Shariff is a 27-year-old striker who originally 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. His debut for the club was delayed due to injury and he was only able to make a number of cameo appearances for the club in the 2015-16 season. During the 2016/17 season he was the club’s top scorer with 26 goals, picking up three player of the month awards. He left the club at the start of November 2017 to join Alfreton Town. After making his debut for the Diamonds in April 2014, Nabil played 73 games for the club, including 57 league games, scoring 40 goals. From Alfreton he went on loan to St Neots Town, before signing for Stratford Town ahead of the 2018/19 season. He returned to St Neots a month into the new season, but at the end of December 2018 he returned to Stratford Town. In November 2019 he rejoined the Diamonds.
Ryan Dove is a 26 year-old striker who joined the club prior to the 2019/20 season. During the 2018/19 season he was at Cogenhoe United in the UCL Premier, scoring 28 goals in 29 games, having previously scored 28 goals in 45 games during the 2017/18 season.
Joel Gyasi is a 25 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. During the successful 2017-18 campaign he made 46 appearances for the club, picking up a player of the month award. He left to join Bedford Town in October 2018 having played 64 games for the club. In January 2019 he moved to Cambridge City, followed by a move to Stratford Town at the start of July 2019, before returning to Cambridge City during the Autumn. In December 2019 he signed for AFC Dunstable, but at the start of February 2020 he rejoined the Diamonds.
Will Jones was part of the 2018-19 season’s all-conquering Academy U16s playing in a forward role, and he also plays for the Academy U18s and Aspire. After playing in cup games for the first team he made his league debut as a substitute in the game at Kings Langley in December 2019.