Being 'written off' has driven Diamonds star Dolman on

Liam Dolman knows he was “written off” by some earlier this season.

Liam Dolman has now made 300 appearances for AFC Rushden & Diamonds as they bid for another promotion. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images
Liam Dolman has now made 300 appearances for AFC Rushden & Diamonds as they bid for another promotion. Picture courtesy of Hawkins Images

But the AFC Rushden & Diamonds stalwart insists any doubts about him have only driven him on to play a key role in their ascent up the Southern League Premier Central table.

Diamonds head into the final weekend of the regular campaign knowing that if they avoid defeat against struggling Nuneaton Borough at Hayden Road then they will secure a place in the semi-finals of the play-offs next Tuesday night.

Diamonds endured a mixed Easter weekend as goals from Will Jones and Connor Furlong secured a 2-1 home success over Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday before they slipped to a disappointing 1-0 loss at St Ives Town on Easter Monday.

With sixth-placed Alvechurch also winning one and losing one over the same period, it means Diamonds remain three points clear in the battle for the last play-off place.

Central defender Dolman made his 300th appearance for the club in Saturday’s victory at Hayden Road.

He has become a legend both on and off the field at the club, although it hasn’t always been plain sailing in the current campaign.

“It is a nice milestone,” Dolman said.

“Not many players get that many appearances at one club, certainly in one go. I am happy with it.

“I was written off, I’m not going to lie. But that made me push on and show people I can still play.

“There’s no doubt about it, I wasn’t performing to my standard and, rightly so, I had my critics for it. But I am big enough and ugly enough to know you will get criticism.

“It just made me sit back. I had a couple of weeks off with Covid and I just said to myself that I know what I can do and I will get back to my best.

“I think, since November, I have done that. I think I have only missed one game in that spell.

“I am at my best when I am playing every week and I think I have shown that.

“I am at that stage where I know I am at the back end of my career but I just want to carry on playing for as long as possible.

“As long as I’m playing well and keeping people out of the team, that’s all I can do.”

Dolman has been a key figure in Diamonds’ recent success having played a part in their United Counties League title-winning campaign before helping to lead the club to promotion to Step 4.

Now, the club has the opportunity to top the lot by securing promotion to Step 2.

There is, as Dolman recognises, a lot of work to do before that, not least on Saturday as they bid for the right result to book their place in the play-offs.

But if they were to seal promotion, it would pretty much complete the defender’s ambitions.

“I remember sitting here after we won the United Counties League and I was asked what my ambition was,” Dolman said.

“And I said then that if I can get this club into the National League North before I retire then that would be a good job done.

“There’s still a long way to go, of course. But it would be the best of the lot if we could get it done.”