Rushden and Diamonds Football Club were formed at the end of the 1991/92 season as the result of a merger between Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds. The two sides each had their own individual history, but faced uncertain futures after the 1991/92 season.
Rushden Town were formed in 1889, and joined the United Counties League in 1901. The red-shirted ‘Russians’ as they were appropiately and punningly nicknamed, won the UCL 10 times in the 77 years spent in the league, before joining the Southern League Midland Division. After a few shaky seasons they eventually gained promotion to the Southern League Premier Division in 1990, but following a disappointing first season in which Rushden finished 14th in the league, they were relegated back to the SLM as their Hayden Road ground failed to meet the standards set by the Premier Division.
Meanwhile, Irthlingborough Diamonds were formed in 1946 and originally played youth football in the Rushden & District Youth League. They later went on to play in the Senior League before joining the Kettering Amateur League in 1960. After four years the ‘Diamonds’ joined the United Counties League Division Two, and within 3 years had won promotion to the Division One, where they remained until 1992. They won the UCL Championship four times, and also reached the semi-finals of the FA Vase on two occasions.
The early 90s saw a decline in the clubs’ fortunes and Max Griggs, a local businessman, was approached about a possible sponsorship. Mr Griggs recognised the problems being experienced by both Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds. Despite widespread reservations an amalgamation was eventually agreed and the Irthlingborough Diamonds’ ground, Nene Park, was brought up to the required standard. The 1992/93 season started with the newly formed club, managed by former Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds stalwart Roger Ashby, entertaining Bilston Town in the Southern League Midland Division before a crowd of 315 . Rushden and Diamonds gained promotion to the Football League in 2001, just nine short years after the club came into existence, possibly a record for modern times.
With the joining of the two clubs the former badges merged. The blue diamonds are taken from Irthlingborough Diamonds’ old badge, together with the crossed keys, the same keys that can be seen in Peterborough United’s emblem. These keys are symbolic of those to the Gates of Heaven given by Christ to St.Peter. The rampant lion is taken from the old Rushden crest, together with the red and white hoops. The lion comes from the family crest of the Sartoris family who donated a piece of land to Rushden Sports Club, which eventually became home to the local football club. The wavy lines represent the River Nene near the club’s ground.
And as for the nickname: well, Diamonds seems to have stuck, and until some corporate entity decides to hold a competition to give a new name it seems an admirable one to us. What the future holds for Diamonds is anyone’s guess – but they have taken that first step.