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Dawn of a new era

By jon.reilly  |  Posted: August 25, 2011

By TAYLOR WILLIAMS

AFC Rushden & Diamonds crest

AFC Rushden & Diamonds crest

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A new era is under way this week as AFC Rushden and Diamonds embark on their first ever league match after Rushden and Diamonds were expelled from the Conference and forced into administration.

The new side led by Mark Starmer will play Daventry Town at their new Kiln Park home, in Raunds, this Thursday, with kick off at 7:45pm.

Just the latest example of a ‘phoenix club’ or club created following the demise of an existing club, AFC Rushden and Diamonds follow the path of fellow clubs FC Halifax Town and Chester FC. These clubs have also risen again with a new identity after the demise of former Football League clubs Halifax Town AFC and Chester City FC respectively.

The Daventry game provides Diamonds fans with the ideal opportunity to join together and show solidarity in adversity since the liquidation.

The strength of AFC Rushden and Diamonds is indeed the supporter base with sufficient numbers shunning nearby League Two Northampton Town’s initiative of a season ticket trade in favour of following the new brand of Diamonds in the Northants Senior Youth League.

The Diamonds squad will be full of youth teamers for the coming season, with every expectation that senior league registrations will be completed on time for the 2012/2013 season.

It has been a turbulent time for all connected with the Northamptonshire based outfit in recent times following the tragic death of then Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper Dale Roberts back in December.

In memory of Roberts, AFC Rushden and Diamonds will be hoping for a fruitful campaign after concluding their pre-season, going down 2-0 against Irchester United.

Diamonds, without captain Danny Bird, began strongly hitting the post through Lewis Williams before Blake Helsdown dragged the rebound unfortunately wide. With a half-time scoreline of 0-0, Diamonds shared most of the possession after the break, but Irchester’s dangerous counters finally paid off after a neat header fell into the path of an Irchester striker to slot into the net.

The second goal put the game beyond Diamonds’ reach as a free kick was curled beyond the wall and substitute goalkeeper Bradley Ledger could only parry the effort into the path of an onrushing Irchester forward for 2-0.

In spite of the defeat, manager Mark Starmer was upbeat for the upcoming season and the opener against Daventry.

He said: “The squad has now been formed and has shown progress over the past few weeks, I am looking forward to seeing how the players respond on such a momentous occasion”.

Diamonds fans can also be upbeat that the club has found a new sponsor in the form of ‘Playfish’ – an EA Sports owned computer game company specialising in the social gaming industry.

All is in place for an exciting season ahead and Diamonds fans will hope to unearth the next star after former heroes Simeon Jackson and Lee Tomlin went on to prove themselves in the Football League. Entry for the Daventry game will be £2 for adults and £1 for concessions. All under 16s can enter for free. A large turnout is expected for this historic occasion.

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