Great Scott! Meet the AFC Rushden & Diamonds superfan who is yet to miss one of their 500-plus games

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When AFC Rushden & Diamonds won 2-0 at Stourbridge on April 8, it marked a big milestone in the club’s history.

The clash was Diamonds’ 500th competitive game since the phoenix club entered the United Counties League following their formation in 2012.

And superfan Scott Stapley has literally been with them every step of the way.

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Following the Easter Monday victory over Bedford Town at Hayden Road, Stapley was officially recognised as the only fan to have seen every single competitive game Diamonds have played.

Scott Stapley received a special shirt from Chris Nunn and Dean Snedker having watched every one of AFC Rushden & Diamonds' competitive games since their formationScott Stapley received a special shirt from Chris Nunn and Dean Snedker having watched every one of AFC Rushden & Diamonds' competitive games since their formation
Scott Stapley received a special shirt from Chris Nunn and Dean Snedker having watched every one of AFC Rushden & Diamonds' competitive games since their formation

To mark the achievement, he was presented with a framed shirt by manager Chris Nunn and goalkeeper Dean Snedker.

Stapley, like many Diamonds fans, is a volunteer at home matches and also spent time on the club’s board earlier this season.

But his commitment has seen him travel far and wide to follow the club, which was formed in wake of the demise of the original Rushden & Diamonds whom he was also a fan.

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And while his commitment has been rightly recognised, he insists the milestone only belongs to the club.

“It’s every competitive game since the one against Thrapston Town in 2012 so that includes the league, league cups, FA Trophy and FA Vase,” the superfan said.

“To be honest, I didn’t really keep track of it until the club were talking about coming up to the 100th game and I realised I hadn’t missed any.

“There was actually me and two others who hadn’t missed any of the first 100 games.

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“That was myself, Graham Sharp who still comes home and away but we couldn’t take him during Covid otherwise he would have got to 500 as well, and Dave Hales but he missed some through holidays.

“I knew it was coming up but I think this year I became more aware of the 500th game because I was involved within the club and there was talk about how they would mark the milestone for the club.

“That’s how I see it, it’s a brilliant milestone for the club, not for me.”

Having now witnessed over 500 games, over 45,000 minutes of football at four different levels, there are bound to be a number of games that really stand out.

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Stapley can’t much look further than that historic opening game as Diamonds beat Thrapston Town 3-0 in the United Counties League Division One.

But there have been others and he admits it’s sometimes the games you don’t expect much from that end up delivering the memorable moments.

“I was thinking about the one game that stands out and it was difficult to narrow it down because there are lots that were great for all different reasons,” he said.

“The first game against Thrapston was great. Winning 3-0 and the exhilaration from that was brilliant.

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“There was one where we had three players sent-off at Wisbech. Sam Brown, Richard Bunting and Russ Dunkley got sent-off but we ended up holding on for a 3-1 win.

“There was also another that stood out and that was at AFC Wulfrunians in the FA Vase.

“That was a weird one because our goalkeeper got stuck in traffic and we had to put Jake Gillingwater in goal and then we had a man sent-off.

“It went into extra-time and we ended up winning and I am sure Jake got man-of-the-match.

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“There was Concord Rangers away in the FA Cup when we were 3-0 up after 20 minutes and I just remember Ross Oulton being excellent in that game and before having to come off injured.

“They were in the National League South and we were in Step 4 so that was a memorable day.

“There’s loads that really stand out when I start thinking about it.

“Everybody wants to go to the big games but it’s the ones you sometimes don’t expect much from that end up being the ones that stick out.

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“You can’t judge a game before it happens. You just have to go and enjoy it and judge each one on its individual merits.”

Despite all their success of three promotions since their formation, any superfan would probably have their loyalty tested during what has been a tough campaign this time around.

Diamonds have been relegated from the Southern League Premier Central and will be back at Step 4 next season.

But Stapley has stayed loyal and he is already looking forward to next season, although he is intrigued to see what division the club will go into.

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“I was involved within the club until October but then came out of it, partly because of my own well-being and because I didn’t agree with certain things at the time,” he added.

“But I also do a lot of volunteering at home games with the video analysis and recording matches so I have that role I do.

“It’s not been good this season. It’s had its ups and downs. But I still wouldn’t want to miss any games, especially with my volunteer duties at home.

“The team has started to come together as a group recently and you can see that. We have more characters in the squad.

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“I really enjoy this level we are at so going to every game is a pleasure. It’s a shame we won’t be at the same level next season.

“I don’t know what league we are going to be in.

“I think a lot of people want to go into the Southern League Division One Central because they feel that might be a quicker route to get back.

“But I would quite like to go into the Northern Premier League Midlands so that we can take on the likes of Corby Town, that would really generate some local interest and we haven’t really had that since we left the United Counties League. It’s good to have that little bit of local interest and extra edge to a season.

“We will see what happens in the summer and see how it all unfolds.

“I will certainly plan on being there regardless of what league we are in.”

Here’s to the next 500, Scott!