Dale Roberts’ former manager supports fight to keep AFC Diamonds’ number one shirt retired

Justin Edinburgh and Kurt Bond, 16, looking at tributes to Dale Roberts
Justin Edinburgh and Kurt Bond, 16, looking at tributes to Dale Roberts

Dale Roberts’ former manager has shown his support for the fight to keep the young goalkeeper’s shirt retired in his memory.

Justin Edinburgh was Dale’s manager at Rushden & Diamonds Football Club when he died in December 2010.

Justin Edinburgh and Kurt Bond, 16, looking at tributes to Dale Roberts

Justin Edinburgh and Kurt Bond, 16, looking at tributes to Dale Roberts

Since his death, AFC Rushden & Diamonds and its predecessor Rushden & Diamonds, have maintained a tradition that the first team goalkeeper does not wear the number one shirt.

The first choice goalkeeper always wears number 17 now, but following the club’s promotion to the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central, their request for the special dispensation has been denied.

While the club waits for a decision on its appeal, Dale’s former manager, who is now manager of Gillingham Football Club, has spoken of his pride of working with Dale and his support to keep the shirt retired in Dale’s memory.

He spoke to Mark Dimmock, an AFC Diamonds member, about Dale last week.

Hopefully the league will come to their senses and allow the memory to live on and the number one shirt to remain retired

Justin Edinburgh

Mr Edinburgh, who was involved in the original decision to retire the number one shirt, said: “It was a decision that we made as a football club and I thought that it was the right one and the only decision to make.

“I find it quite sad that it’s a decision being made that the club are being forced to reuse such an iconic number and a shirt that has been set aside for Dale – it is really tragic.”

He added: “I think we all know what Dale meant to everyone and he still does.

“Every time that I meet someone from Rushden and Diamonds, Dale’s name is mentioned.

“It is sad, but we don’t feel sadness, we feel great pride and honour that we were able to see him play for the football club and to have managed and met him as a person and as a player.

“It was a fitting tribute.”

Mr Edinburgh said Dale was a kind person and nothing was ever too much for him.

He was always happy to speak to fans, and his former boss added: “We’re talking about a young man who unfortunately took his life but a big loss as well was that we lost a fantastic young goalkeeper with huge potential and that all got taken away from us far too soon.

“I know that still to this day his memory is very fond in our thoughts and he was a fantastic young man.”

Mr Edinburgh is backing the club’s fight to keep Dale’s shirt retired and said: “It is the right decision and it is rightly backed by everyone and hopefully the league will come to their senses and allow the memory to live on and the number one shirt to remain retired.”

More than 4,100 people have now signed an online petition calling for the decision to be overturned.

Anyone wishing to sign the petition can go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-against-the-southern-leagues-decision/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=button.