Diamonds pay tribute after death of Max Griggs
Max, who formed Rushden & Diamonds and led them to the Football League, died this week
AFC Rushden & Diamonds have paid tribute to Max Griggs after the man behind one of non-League football's greatest fairy tales died.
Max, who formed Rushden & Diamonds FC in 1992 after the merger of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds, died on Thursday (July 8).
Under his leadership the Diamonds rapidly rose through the leagues, reaching what is now League One, winning both the Conference and the old Division Three on the way.
He later sold the club to the fans for £1 in 2005 before the club went into administration six years later.
The phoenix club AFC Rushden & Diamonds was later set up and Max would occasionally be seen watching their matches from the stands at their Hayden Road home.
In a statement released this afternoon (Saturday) the club said: "We are devastated this morning to have learnt of the passing of our friend, Max Griggs, on Thursday this week.
"Max will be fondly remembered by all supporters of both Rushden & Diamonds FC and AFC Rushden & Diamonds and he will be greatly missed.
"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time.
"As a mark of respect, players and management will wear black armbands at this afternoon’s fixture and we will advise supporters of further plans to remember him as soon as we can."
Max, who made his fortune through Dr Martens boots, was on the board of directors at Northampton Town Football Club before his passion for the game saw him form Rushden & Diamonds.
He set the club up at Nene Park in what would later become a state-of-the-art stadium and bankrolled big name signings.
Within four years the club reached the Football Conference and in 1997 ex-Arsenal star Brian Talbot was named as manager.
After some lucrative FA Cup runs - including a memorable replay in which Diamonds gave Premier League Leeds United a huge scare - the club won promotion to the Football League in 2001.
Just a year later they reached the Division Three play-off final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, going on to lose to Cheltenham Town despite a Paul Hall wonder goal.
And the following year they won Division Three on the final day of the season, drawing 1-1 against title rivals Hartlepool United at Nene Park.
The Diamonds enjoyed one season in Division Two, playing the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and QPR, but were relegated after well-documented financial problems.
Max later handed the club over to the Supporters' Trust for £1 before its demise in 2011.
Former Diamonds winger Andy Burgess was among those to pay tribute to him on Twitter today.
He said: "Absolutely devastated to hear of the passing of one of the few genuine people in football. Modest and always smiling. Never has a football club ever been owned and loved like you loved our wonderful club, Mr Chairman.
"You deserved everything you got. RIP Max and thank you."
AFC Rushden & Diamonds vice-chairman Jon Ward said: "So sad to hear of the passing of Max Griggs. His vision turned out to be a huge part of my life. He will be greatly missed."
And Mark Lea, who previously covered Rushden & Diamonds for the Northants Telegraph, said: "Very sad news on the death of Max Griggs.
"A family man, a businessman and a gentleman.
"He lived the dream by creating Rushden & Diamonds and taking them into the Football League. It was an honour to be a part of the journey. RIP Mr Chairman."