Rushden and Diamonds versus Salisbury City.
Saturday 19th August, 1995.
I have before me a programme from the opening day of our 1995/1996 season. The sponsors (Whitworths), competition (Beazer Homes League), price (£1) and size of the programme (32 pages) have all changed over the years, but it seems quintessentially RDFC.
Page 3 sees manager Roger Ashby announce his aim of winning the division, and earning promotion to the GM Conference. “In every manager’s mind is the belief that his side can win it,” he says. “My thoughts are no different…” The chairmans message on the next page intones the same aim. “With Lady Luck on our side, we shall really have something to cheer about at the end of the season”. Both men had their dreams realised, as Rushden won the division that term.
Roger Knight is the sole contributor to “Diamonds Mail”. In his message he makes passing references to the Rep. of Ireland’s managerial masterpiece in Jack Charlton – “more fool England for not snapping it up first!” – and comments on the pre-season shirt mix-up in the Rushden/Kettering Senior cup tie. That game had attracted little under 2000 to Nene Park; an incredible feat for a pre-season tie between two non-league clubs.
After a summary of Salisbury City, we come to “Bernards Billboard”, of which I am not familiar. Anyone with any info on who Bernard is, feel free to leave a comment below (no registration etc. required). He asks whether or not his readers have bought their video of the Newcastle pre-season friendly, and talks of the £80 season ticket. “Tommy”, who I presume to be the Rushden mascot B.D. (Before Dazzler), also has his say.
Tony Jones’ column deals with a Newcastle enthusiast who managed to hitch hike from the Isle of Skye to Rushden for the game (before being directed to Irthlingborough). “Speed bonny boat/ Like a bird on the wing/ Over the sea to Skye”.
A two-page picture of Garry Butterworth is included in the middle of the programme, the photo taken by Paul Redding. Ross Chapman is the game’s mascot, citing his favourite player as Mickey Nuttel. Is he still coming to NP, I wonder? The programme ends with Sue Morris thanking everyone who took part in the “Diamonds Strikeforce Prediction League”, the winner of which was awarded to Kevin Briggs, after his side “Net Busters Utd.”, stormed the league.
The programme reeks of optimism, and freshness. In only the club’s fourth ever season, the team ran out 3-0 winners that day, the three points proving vital as they won the league by two points in May. A decade and a bit later, the two sides’ fixture was memorable for a decidedly different reason.
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