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Article by Paul Wright, Aug 2017
A F C Rushden & Diamonds
Hayden Road
Hayden Road and the Stand

So many hours of hard work and pure graft have enabled the home coming of "AFC Rushden and Diamonds" to Hayden Road, this has all been possible many weeks earlier than hoped.

The provisional plan to play the 2017/18 over at Kempston was abandoned after so many keen supporters rolled their sleeves up and made it possible to be back home at Hayden Road in Rushden.

In early August 2017 it was announced that "AFC Rushden and Diamonds" ground had passed the grading inspection, and Hayden Road could host matches in the "Evo Stik" league South East.

And to make things even rosier the new campaign has got off to a flying start, the Diamonds made a joyous return to their previous temporary home down at the Dog and Duck in Wellingborough. It was Saturday afternoon on August 20th 2017, and in front of a 500 plus crowd the away side ran out comfortable winners in the FA cup preliminary round.

The second home game on the fixture list for Saturday 26th, was played against Hampshire based club "Fleet Town", the result was a big win for the home side by the landslide scoreline of 7-1, the weather was ultra kind with wall to wall sunshine more suited to cricket, as we basked in 25C.

Darryl Smith got to keep the match ball for getting his hat trick, and a couple for Nabil Sharif, Liam Doiman scored from the spot, and a cracker from Claudiu Hoban on his return in front of 540 fans.

All in all a great start to the season with a 100% record, and Hayden Road is looking the better for receiving a welcome help in the form of materials and services to the value of £4,000 from generous local haulage company Mick George.

Their record still held good over the Bank Holiday Monday as it was a goal from midfielder "Joel Gyasi" that gave them a point in the 1-1 draw with local rivals Kempston Rovers on a really hot day, with the mercury level pushing up to 28C,  keeping the 482 crowd very hot.

Now that they are back playing at Hayden Road it seems very tempting to refer back to a previous nickname, which was obviously prior to the merger in 1992 down at Nene Park, with what was then "Irthlingborough Diamonds", up to this moment in time they were nicknamed the "Russians".

And older readers may recall the Saturday evening sports paper called the "Pink 'Un",  this was a brilliant locally produced paper that was believe it or not on sale on the streets in Rushden by about 6.20 pm.

And most of us would drive down the high street in the 1960's, and standing on the corner outside of the Rose and Crown were Rushden stalwarts "Freddie and Jean Hales".

Northampton also had their own version of this paper, and it was called the "Green 'Un".

You would manually wind down the passenger window and one of them would bring your Pink 'Un" and Evening Telegraph, if you wanted both, to you.

No matter what the weather conditions were, they would be there week in, and week out, and if it was really cold, there would be an excusable dew drop or two on display.

The headers on the back page would be a row of about six comic characters with happy or sad faces depicted, this depended on how the teams faired on the day?

To my memory they were obviously the "Cobblers, the Poppies, the Russians" and I think there was a "Friar", not sure who they were?

And the best performing team would be awarded the "biscuit" for being outstanding on the day.

This was all prior to local radio bringing any sports news or results to the eager sport lovers in our area. I was a small part of such a radio service, when from the spring of 1990 I co-presented the sport show on Kettering based KCBC radio with local sports buff and local councillor for Kettering "Barrie Chambers". Barrie later went of to be one of the regular voices on Radio Diamonds along with several of the other reporters from KCBC, including my good friend "Wally Valentine". You can view a tribute site to KCBC 1584 at KCBC radio went on to be called "Connect FM" and is part of Forward media group.

I now broadcast my "60's Sunday" show every week from 08.00-11.00 on Harborough FM Radio, it would be great if you tuned in at

Whether the aspirations of "AFC Rushden and Diamonds" stretch as far as "AFC Wimbledon" I don't know?

"AFC Wimbledon" were founded by the supporters in the summer of 2002 as a direct reaction to a decision by an independent commission that was appointed by the Football Association (the FA), that would allow Wimbledon FC to move about 60 miles north to "Milton Keynes" to become the "MK Dons". The man who guided such an audacious move was "Dons" chairman "Pete Winkelman" - some envious football fans call this franchise football to this very day!

Currently in the 2017-18 season "AFC Wimbledon" are in League one along with the "Cobblers", who recently dispensed with their manager "Justin Edinborough" (formerly at Rushden and Diamonds), and also in that league are the "MK Dons".

The cobblers now have Dutchman and former Chelsea player "Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink" as their manager.

Let's hope that "AFC Rushden and Diamonds" can now kick on, and get back to serious action back in Rushden.

Who knows to the former halcyon days of "Charlie Marlowe, Mick Dyte, Peter De Bank, Len Stanway, Mick Corbyn, Melvyn Brown, Mick Toms, Norman Gibbs, Lenny Pipes, Roy Cave, John Draper and Pete Cowper", and all the former characters who have graced a Rushden shirt, or served at Hayden Road in whatever capacity over the last century.

Lets all hope that maybe, just maybe that things can return and live on, now the lads are back home?

Bar, clubhouse & stand
Rear of the Stand
Bar, clubhouse & stand beyond
Rear of the Stand
Inside the ground
The Club House
Inside the ground
The Club House

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