Jon Dunham – New eras set to dawn for Diamonds and Doughboys

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

It is fair to say it has been a lively old week when it comes to the local football scene in north Northamptonshire.

We have seen some severe problems developing at Corby Town while Kettering Town are, for once, actually enjoying a very pleasant spell thanks to a record-breaking unbeaten run of form.

But the United Counties League did its very best to steal the headlines following a couple of midweek matches as two managers called time on their spells with their respective clubs. And both for very different reasons.

Let’s start with AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Mark Starmer’s decision to resign following Tuesday’s 2-1 derby defeat to Desborough Town.

Starmer has since given his reasons behind the decision to step down, citing commitment due to his work and a couple of other issues that are, rightly, being kept inhouse.

But, perhaps his most telling words were along the lines of him feeling he had taken the club as far as he could.

And taken it a long way he has.

As I have written on numerous occasions, I have a lot of respect for those who got the AFC Diamonds idea off the ground.

And right from the off, Starmer was the man charged with leading the on-field matters.

Certainly, from a media point of view anyway and as an outsider looking in, he has done that job well and he has done it with a fair bit of dignity as well.

It can’t have been easy. Expectations will always be high, mainly because no fan there will ever really forget the origins of why the club came about.

As well as managing the squad, Starmer had to deal with getting his team to perform in front of big crowds as well – attendances the UCL is not exactly famous for.

Promotion from Division One in their first-ever season as a senior club was an excellent achievement and this season’s runs in the FA Cup and FA Vase were both memorable.

But I am intrigued by the line of him ‘taking it as far as could’. How much further did he need to take it?

Was the aim of the club to win the UCL Premier Division this season? In any other season Diamonds would have been there or thereabouts as the league table would suggest. Sometimes you just can’t stop something like what has been created over at Spalding United.

Again, as an outsider looking in, I would suggest Starmer has done a fine job in helping to get the club off the ground and has laid the foundations for whoever may come in next. For that, I am sure everyone there will always be grateful.

It was a double departure at the Dog & Duck though as Craig Adams resigned as the Wellingborough Town boss on Tuesday following a fine 3-1 victory at Wisbech Town.

He, however, has left the Doughboys for what he feels is a big opportunity at Bedford Town.

Adams has been a breath of fresh air. He arrived at Wellingborough last season with the club looking all-but certain to be playing Division One football this season.

But he transformed things in a ridiculously small amount of time, led the club on a stunning unbeaten run and got them to safety with time to spare.

And things didn’t stop there. Adams continued to re-build his squad over the summer and the fact he leaves them in seventh place and in a League Cup semi-final really says it all.

It’s no surprise that an opportunity has presented itself after that effort.

Bedford are already doomed to play Calor League Division One Central football next season after a miserable campaign in the Premier Division this time around.

But a step up is a step up and Adams is heading to a club that has been, in the past and could be in the future, a force in the non-League game.

This is what football should be all about. A manager performs well, he gets an opportunity higher up. Unfortunately, the game higher up the ladder continues to deal in the same old merry-go-round of faces.

Adams has been a pleasure for us to deal with. Down to earth and always willing to tell you how it is. I wish him well in his new surroundings.

What this all means for both the Diamonds and the Doughboys is that the search is on to fill the gaps that have been left.

Whoever comes in at both clubs will be leading them both into new eras.