Betting tipsPronosticos apuestasPonturi pariuriPronostici scommesseWetten tippsAposta e Ganha

facebook-hoover twitter-hoover behanse-hoover
Print

The best-supported youth team in the land?

Rushden DiamondsAFC Rushden & Diamonds

“If anyone gets more than us I’d like to see it. I check out Liverpool’s academy sometimes on satellite TV and their games are watched by one man, his dog and a couple of relatives.” So says Mark Starmer, the manager of a youth team which can justifiably claim to be the best-supported in English football.

Incredibly, this team can be found in the sleepy footballing backwater of Northamptonshire - a county that has rarely had it so bad. At the time of writing Northampton Town are propping up the entire Football League, while Conference side Kettering Town are embroiled in a long battle for survival. Rushden & Diamonds know how the Poppies feel: they were expelled from the Conference in June last year, with the final boot to the side founded by Doc Martens supremo Max Griggs administered by HMRC shortly after.
Now they’re back. Sort of.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds, the phoenix club formed from the ashes of the original incarnation, decided to take a novel approach to regeneration. Last summer they took the unusual step of entering a fledgling team - rather than a full men’s side - in step eight of the non-league pyramid, the oxymoronically named Northants Senior Youth League. In short, the future of the new club was put in the hands of a bunch of kids. Surely Nene Park regulars would have to find a new team to support? Not a bit of it.
“We had to put back the kick-off of our first match because of crowd congestion - we just couldn’t get people in the ground on time,” says Jon Ward, acting vice-chairman.
A crowd of 467 turned up for that game against Daventry Town on August 25. Club skipper Danny Bird scored the club’s first league goal in a 3-0 win.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Bird tells FFT. “The people just kept coming. It has taken some getting used to but for us young guys it has been an incredible season.”
Just five days after Daventry were seen off at Diamonds’ adopted Kiln Park home - the base of United Counties League side and near-neighbours Rounds Town - the new boys travelled to Bugbrooke St Michaels, who had never seen anything like it.

“It was a Tuesday night and they weren’t really prepared for almost 200 away fans,” laughs Ward. “The fact is, these fans are used to travelling across the country but now every away fixture is on our doorstep. We don’t pay an entrance fee away but we do a bucket collection and raise a couple of hundred quid for whoever we’re playing.”
Starmer was in the dugout directing operations that late summer’s evening. Rushden’s former head of youth completed his UEFA A licence alongside the likes of Celtic manager Neil Lennon, and led the original club to victory in the Midland Youth Cup and the FA Youth Alliance League as well as guiding them to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup in their final season in existence.

“I worked without pay from March 2011 before the club went under, but was genuinely honoured and privileged when AFC asked me to take the job because I know other people were interested,” he tells FFT.

“It keeps a lot of people involved in the old club going and everything is ticking along nicely. There’s no sugar daddy ploughing in loads of money - we’re building up from the bottom.” Rushden & Diamonds know the perils having a rich owner can bring. When the club was formed in 1992, Griggs boasted that the club would be playing league football within 10 years. He was wrong. They did it in nine.

Promotion from League Two to the third tier of English football followed in May 2003 under Brian Talbot. Then things began to go awry. They were relegated the following season, then in the summer of 2005 Griggs handed over control of the club to the Supporters’ Trust - as well as giving them Nene Park stadium and £750,000.
That hailed the beginning of the end for the Diamonds, and by the summer of 2011 the club had gone bust. But from the most unpromising situation imaginable, AFC Rushden & Diamonds were born, handing youngsters like Bird a chance to be local heroes. “The fact that we’re all local lads makes it even more special,” says Bird, 17. “On matchday the fans’ noise really lifts the lads, and sometimes you have to pinch yourself to remind yourself you’re playing in a youth league in Northamptonshire. The only downside is, we’re the team everyone wants to beat.”

supporters

It is hoped the current youth team will form the basis of the AFC Rushden & Diamonds side that will kick off their first season in August. But while they prepare, some players - including Bird have been handed first-team non-league football elsewhere.
“I’ve got three boys set to play for Rothwell Town in the UCL [United Counties League],” says Starmer. “They look OK youth in football but I want to see if they can handle a six-foot gorilla pushing them all over the park on a Saturday afternoon, because that’s what will happen.”

In the meantime, for those of a Diamonds persuasion at least, Thursday nights are the new Saturday for the rest of this season.
“The first couple of weeks you think it’s quite nice having a free weekend you go shopping with the wife, that kind of thing,” says Ward.

“That doesn’t last long though.”
If Diamonds fans share that sentiment, the club’s following could swell further next year.


to see fresh news don't wait for us, go and buy WorldSoccer Magazine

Tags: Bet on Soccer | Bet on the Champions League | Bet on the SPL

Best Free Bet Offers - Provided by engagesuperleague.co.uk

Click any of the bookmakers name to activate your free bet now.

1.       Unibet (sign up offer – free £20)

Deposit £20, bet with £40. Create a Unibet account here >>.

2.       Betfair (bet 10£ get 30£)

Get free 5£ no deposit required on casino. Create a Betfair account here >>.

3.       Bet365 (sign up offer - £200 in free bets)

Deposit £200, bet with £400. Create a Bet365 account here >>.

4.      Offsidebet (sign up offer - £25 in free bets)

Deposit £25, bet with £50. Create a new Offsidebet account here >>.

5.     Sky Bet (sign up offer – no deposit free £30)

Deposit 0, bet with £30.  Create a new Sky Bet account here >>.

Betting previews and tips

join-now

Soccer betting tips

News UEFA Champions League

Guardiola proud of Bayern despite defeat
Guardiola proud of Bayern despite defeat

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola insisted he was proud of his team even though they lost the firs [ ... ]

Borussia Dortmund v Zenit - UEFA Champio...
Borussia Dortmund v Zenit - UEFA Champions League

Semak was handed control of first-team affairs at Zenit last week following the departure of Lucia [ ... ]

UEFA Champions League: Olympiacos v Manc...
UEFA Champions League: Olympiacos v Manchester Utd

Manchester United travel to Olympiacos in good spirits for the first leg of their last-16 UEFA Cha [ ... ]

UEFA Champions League: Zenit v B. Dortmu...
UEFA Champions League: Zenit v B. Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund's bid to improve on last season's runners-up finish in the UEFA Champions League [ ... ]

Other Articles

News UEFA Europa League

Emery hails brave Sevilla
Emery hails brave Sevilla

Sevilla coach Unai Emery praised his team for overcoming 'tiredness and discom [ ... ]

Fiorentina v Juventus - UEFA Europa Leag...
Fiorentina v Juventus - UEFA Europa League Preview

This week's clash will conclude a hat-trick of meetings between the sides in l [ ... ]

Benfica v Tottenham - UEFA Europa League...
Benfica v Tottenham - UEFA Europa League Preview

Spurs head coach Sherwood has come under fire following three successive high- [ ... ]

Europa League: Tottenham v Benfica
Europa League: Tottenham v Benfica

Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood expects a response when his side host Benfica in t [ ... ]

Europa League: Juventus v Fiorentina
Europa League: Juventus v Fiorentina

Fiorentina will be out for revenge when they face Juventus for the second time [ ... ]

Europa League: Napoli v Swansea City
Europa League: Napoli v Swansea City

Swansea City visit Napoli with renewed confidence after the first leg of their [ ... ]

Other Articles
like-now-ukbettips

BETTING NEWS & TIPS

Allegri eyes historic treble
Allegri eyes historic treble

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri talked up his club's push for a treble ahead of Saturday's home clash with Empoli. Such is Juve's dominance as they bid fo [ ... ]

Champions aware of danger game
Champions aware of danger game

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez has warned his team-mates of the perils of taking Cordoba lightly on Saturday. The 20-year-old, who has shown signific [ ... ]

Bayern ready to make peace and end Dortm...
Bayern ready to make peace and end Dortmund feud

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has extended an olive branch to Borussia Dortmund ahead of the clubs' Bundesliga meeting at the Westfalenstadion on Sa [ ... ]

Robin van Persie set to return for Aston...
Robin van Persie set to return for Aston Villa

Robin van Persie could return from injury this weekend for Manchester United’s game against Aston Villa.The latest reports suggest van Persie is ahead of  [ ... ]

Match Preview: Netherlands vs Turkey
Match Preview: Netherlands vs Turkey

Netherlands look to take a step closer to qualifying for Euro 2016 when they host Turkey at the Amsterdam Arena on Saturday. The qualifying campaign has been [ ... ]

England vs Lithuania: Euro 2016 Qualifyi...
England vs Lithuania: Euro 2016 Qualifying

Ahead of Friday's clash between England and Lithuania at Wembley, Joe Hart has urged Harry Kane not to leave his under-21 career behind. The Tottenham forwar [ ... ]