Rushden & Diamonds 2 Bilston Town 2

Sat 22.8    Home  Bilston Town                   Drew 2-2     Kearns(53), Belfon(80)               315

                                Shoemake, Bushell, Wilson, Flower, Page, Heard,

                                Johnson, Mann, Kearns, Belfon, York.

                                Subs used: Nil.

                                Bilston goals 63, 90.

Saturday August 22nd 1992

Rushden & Diamonds (0) 2 Bilston Town (0) 2
Kearns (53), Belfon (80) Baker (63), Gayle (90)
Bookings – Wilson Bookings – None
1.Kevin Shoemake 1.Kevan Williams
2.Mark Bushell 2.Steve Frisby
3.Junior Wilson 3.Kenny Mower
4.John Flower 4.Mike Hart
5.Darrell Page 5.Mark Bowater
6.Steve Heard 6.Jim Skidmore
7.Dave Johnson 7.Andy Chappell
8.Adie Mann 8.Gary Jones
9.Ollie Kearns 9.Michael Gayle
10.Frankie Belfon 10.John Baker
11.Paul York 11.Howard Revan
12.Peter Green 12.Danny Williams
14.Mark Jameson 14.Mark Stanton


Ollie Kearns 320x400Manager Roger Ashby had greatly strengthened his squad during the summer and although injuries incurred in pre-season friendlies restricted his choice, several of his new signings appeared in Rushden & Diamonds inaugural Beazer Homes Midland Division fixture against Bilston Town.

Even so, the line-up on that afternoon was largely that which had represented Rushden Town in its farewell game back in May. In contrast, none of the Irthlingborough Diamonds players who appeared in their club’s final match made it into the starting line-up against Bilston.

Goalkeeper Kevin Shoemake, a late signing from Redbridge Forest, necessary because of Kevin Fox’s long term injury, was joined by fellow newcomers John Flower, Mark Bushell, Adie Mann and Ollie Kearns. Central defender Flower had begun his career at Corby Town before playing League Football for Sheffield United and Aldershot Town, whilst Bushell and Mann were formerly at Northampton Spencer. Thirty-Six years old Kearns, a close-season signing from Worcester City, had scored 11 Beazer Home Premier Division goals during a brief spell with Rushden Town towards the end of the abortive 1990/91 campaign.

It is a measure of interest generated in the new club that the opening League fixture attracted a crowd of 315, as in the previous season Bilston’s visit to Hayden Road to play Rushden Town could only manage to attract 155 spectators. Unfortunately outside of East Northants the birth of the new club passed almost unremarked. Bilston’s local newspaper merely stated “Bilston travel to Willingboro on Saturday for their first BML game against Rushden & Diamond”.

The game itself proved a huge disappointment, the first half being utterly devoid of interest, with neither side managing a single shot on goal. However the second half improved greatly and within 8 minutes of the re-start Ollie Kearns won the distinction of becoming the first player to score for Rushden & Diamonds after neatly converting a pass by Frankie Belfon past Bilston’s keeper. The lead and jubilation was short-lived however, and within 10 minutes John Baker found too much time and space in the box to shoot past Kevin Shoemake to make it 1-1. After that Diamonds settled down and went looking for the winner. With 10 minutes to go Frankie Belfon put Diamonds 2-1 up and on course to what seemingly looked like 3 points, but again Bilston came back. In the dying minutes of the game, in a crowded box, Michael Gayle somehow managed to plant the ball in the back of the net through a forest of players’ legs to make the final score 2-2 and give Bilston a share of the points on this historic day for Rushden & Diamonds.

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