However, in November of 2007, a corner was turned. Their manager, Phil Wilson, was sacked after the club had fallen to 20th in the BSN table. Under the new joint-control David Bayliss and Darren Sheridan, the team rose from the bottom to the top of the table, finishing in 5th – a play-ff place. After beating Telford, and Stalybridge Celtic, the team were promoted to the Conference National. It had been a nine-year journey, but the boys from Holker Street were back.
Below, the first of today’s matchday photos. More will be uploaded as the day goes on.
11:36 Kick off is some eight hours away… a perfect opportunity to drop in some interesting(ish) stats: Rushden have never conceded a goal against the Bluebirds, winning the two matches the teams’ have played together. These games occured ten season’s ago, during Rushden’s last spell in the Conference. This was also the year that Barrow were turfed out of the league…
1:11 Andy Burgess’ article, in which he says that Barrow is “up North…somewhere” sparks something of a debate on the Barrow messageboard. “Condescending little **** ” chirps one fan. A plan to spam Burge’s Mirror inbox soon follows.
1:18 A quick Google shows that Rushden are 7/5 favourites for the game, despite Barrow’s good start. Leon Knight – who is yet to score for his new side – is joint-favourite to get the first of the game, with 11/2 odds. Jason Walker, who has scored 3 goals this season, has odds of 7/1 for the same bet.
2:37 Garry Hill is expected to name the same starting line-up that lost at Kiddy; in that case the starting line-up would be: Marriott, Osano, Hope, Roberts, Jelleyman, Dean McDonald, Beecroft, Wolleaston, Burgess, Knight, Lee Phillips. The subs are expected to be: Rankine, Burton, Smith, Gulliver and McDonald.
7:45 Kick off.
7:55 A sickening blow for the Diamonds occurs just ten minutes in. Lee Phillips leaves the pitch on a stretcher, unconscious, replaced by Sam Smith. The injury is deemed “serious” by the BBC text-thing. The Clare-Phillips partnership is further away from ever.
8:16 Rushden take the lead through Leon Knight, who scores his first goal of the season. A Sam Smith shot was not dealed with by the Barrow ‘keeper, and Knight – “The little midget up front, according to the BBC Radio commentator – got it in the net. 1-0 Diamonds.
8:26 “It’s the type of save as a goalkeeper you want people to know that you made”. A great save by Marriott – albeit missed by the referee – keeps the Diamonds in the game. In other games, Kettering lead Stevenage (!), Lewes lead Woking, Burton lead Wrexham, York lead Mansfield and Crawley lead Grays. The remaining games are draws.
8:40 Rushden “a shade fortunate” to be ahead, says the radio man. “Oggie oggie oggie!” shouts that lovely sounding man off-mike. 1-0 at half-time.
Nearly nine The second half kicks off. Salisbury take the lead against Weymouth, which means Rushden rise to 10th in the live league table.
9:02 Burton is harshly yellow-carded. “I cannot believe that” exclaims the surprisingly unbiased radio commentator.
9:04 Now it’s Mansfield who take the lead (at Yark) meaning that Rushden rise to 9th.
9:09 Barrow go close. MarriotT scrambles the ball away again.
9:18 The rain pours down as Barrow attack and attack. Nervy times for Rushden fans…
9:35 Burge wastes a great chance, dragging what could have been the killer blow wide of the goal.
9:38 Diamonds fans everywhere soil themselves as MarrioTT drops a ball in the box, only to retrieve it a moment later. Phew..
9:45 …and then it happened. Rushden back down to 15th with 9 points. Kettering some four points and eight places higher. Same old same old…
9:48 “I’m not a Rushden fan but I think they defended very well. They defended excellently” – BBC Radio Cumbria commentator. “MarrioTT had a really really really good game, he kept them [Rushden] in it for most of the game. He should have punched when he caught it, though”.
9:55 Four points off the play-offs. Five games without a win. Some 200 miles for the brave Rushden fans to travel. I’m sure you’ll can forgive me, but I’m not in the mood to do a big summary-type-thing now (and I’m sure your not in the mood to read it). Good night…
Roll on Saturday? It’s going to be a long season…