AFC Rushden & Diamonds have been refused permission to ‘retire’ the number 1 shirt belonging to their former goalkeeper.
Dale Roberts died in December 2010 and since then AFC Rushden & Diamonds, and its predecessor Rushden & Diamonds, have maintained a tradition that the first-team goalkeeper does not wear the number 1 shirt.
Instead the first-choice goalkeeper always wears number 17.
But following the club’s promotion to the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central, their request to be allowed this special dispensation has been denied.
A statement on the club’s website said: “No team representing AFC R&D at any level, of which there are a total of 36 for the 2015/16 season, has ever used the number 1 shirt and only two such shirts have been produced to this date.
“One of these hangs in Dale’s Bar at the ground and a second has been presented to Mr and Mrs Roberts, Dale’s parents.
“When the club first joined the United Counties League in 2012 and made representation to the UCL Board regarding the above issue, their response was one of compassion and understanding.
“A small alteration was subsequently made to the wording of the league rule relating to player numbers which allowed the starting AFC R&D goalkeeper to wear the number 17 shirt.
“AFC Rushden & Diamonds would like to place on record our sincere thanks to the United Counties League for their support in this matter.”
AFC Rushden & Diamonds have appealed to the FA over the decision, which has not yet been concluded.
The staement adds: “Therefore, in accordance with Evo-Stik League Southern rules, the starting goalkeeper of the AFC R&D first team will wear the number 1 shirt in all Evo-Stik League Southern and Red Insure Cup matches, commencing on Saturday, August 8, against Petersfield Town.
“The club’s other 35 teams will continue to use the numbers 13, 17, 24 and 86 for their goalkeepers.
“Dale’s memory will always be cherished and respected by everyone at AFC Rushden & Diamonds.”
A petition has been started against the league’s decision.