Season 2002-03

The 2002-2003 season brought much optimism for the club following their impressive first year in the Football League. Marcus Bignot, a former Crewe player was brought in to strengthen the squad and the club made an impressive start, losing only one game from their opening eight encounters. Despite an 8-0 loss to Coventry in the Worthington Cup (breaking the record for the heaviest club defeat) Diamonds were never out of the top six throughout 2002.

A 5-1 home win over Shrewsbury kicked off 2003 and important victories over Kidderminster, Cambridge and Bournemouth kept the momentum going. On March 1st 2003, Diamonds were in second place in the table, a massive 12 points behind leaders Hartlepool, and at that stage there was no talk of the title. However, an incredible turn of fortunes for both sides resulted in one of the most amazing finishes to the season. With Hartlepool struggling to find any form, Diamonds took full advantage and in March the club racked up wins over York, Hull, Bury and Exeter, with Brian being named Manager of the Month (his second award of this type for the season).

Diamonds won four important games on the trot in April, including a 2-1 victory over Carlisle, which secured promotion and could have secured the championship in the penultimate match of the season, but a 0-0 draw against Leyton Orient combined with a Hartlepool win set up a mouth-watering end of season game. The computer fixture could not have written the script any sweeter – Hartlepool were the last day opponents for Diamonds at Nene Park. The home side knew a draw would be good enough to secure the title and Paul Hall settled nerves with a first-half opener. It looked as though there would be no response from Hartlepool but with minutes remaining Diamonds fans were to endure nail-biting moments when Hartlepool grabbed an equaliser. However, this was to be Diamonds day as they held on for a famous draw to secure the championship in only the club’s second season in the Football League.

This meant the Diamonds had secured their second national league title in their short existence, something other clubs may struggle to ever achieve, and certainly not in the current millennium.

The game at home to Oxford United on 28th December 2002 was the 600th in the Diamonds History – see here for a reflection on that milestone.

See below for a match summary as well as links to match reports. The final league table for the season can be seen here.

See here for a detailed summary of all the games during the season, including team-line up for each game and match timings.

Date V Lge Opponent Result Scorers Att
Sat 10/08/02 A D3 Swansea City Drew 2-2 Lowe, Underwood 6327
Tue 13/08/02 H D3 Torquay United Won 3-0 Darby, Wardley, Hall 3602
Sat 17/08/02 H D3 Kidderminster H Won 3-1 og, Gray, Darby (V) 3329
Sat 24/08/02 A D3 Shrewsbury Town Drew 1-1 Darby 3548
Mon 26/08/02 H D3 Scunthorpe Utd Won 2-0 Lowe, Burgess 3849
Sat 31/08/02 A D3 Cambridge Utd Lost 1-4 Wardley 4598
Sat 07/09/02 H D3 Southend Utd Won 3-0 Gray/2, Hall 4176
Tue 10/09/02 H WC1 Millwall (3) Drew 0-0 AET (won 5-3 pens) (V) 2731
Sat 14/09/02 A D3 York City Drew 0-0 4102
Tue 17/09/02 A D3 AFC Bournemouth Lost 1-3 Dempster 4527
Sat 21/09/02 H D3 Wrexham Drew 2-2 Hall/2 4090
Sat 28/09/02 A D3 Hartlepool Utd Won 2-1 Peters, Hall 5502
Wed 02/10/02 A WC2 Coventry City Lost 0-8 8750
Sat 05/10/02 H D3 Leyton Orient Won 2-0 Darby/2 4381
Sat 12/10/02 A D3 Exeter City Drew 1-1 Darby 2884
Sat 19/10/02 H D3 Bury Lost 0-1 3925
Tue 22/10/02 A LDV1 Cambridge Utd Lost 0-4 2116
Sat 26/10/02 A D3 Hull City Drew 1-1 Gray 10659
Tue 29/10/02 H D3 Boston Utd Won 1-0 Lowe 4079
Sat 02/11/02 A D3 Rochdale Won 1-0 Darby 2628
Sat 09/11/02 H D3 Darlington Won 2-0 Lowe, og 3911
Sat 16/11/02 A FAC1 Kidderminster H Drew 2-2 Duffy/2 3079
Sat 23/11/02 A D3 Lincoln City Won 2-1 Bell, Wardley 3198
Tue 26/11/02 H FAC1r Kidderminster H Won 2-1 Duffy, Wardley 3391
Sat 30/11/02 H D3 Bristol Rovers Won 2-1 Lowe, Hall 3960
Sat 07/12/02 A FAC2 Exeter City Lost 1-3 Lowe 2277
Sat 14/12/02 A D3 Macclesfield Tn Won 1-0 Lowe 1839
Sat 21/12/02 H D3 Carlisle Utd Drew 1-1 Lowe 4355
Thu 26/12/02 A D3 Scunthorpe Utd Drew 0-0 4096
Sat 28/12/02 H D3 Oxford Utd Lost 0-2 4891
Wed 01/01/03 H D3 Shrewsbury Town Won 5-1 Darby/2, Gray, Lowe, Hall 4144
Sat 04/01/03 A D3 Torquay Utd Drew 1-1 Darby 2651
Sat 11/01/03 A D3 Kidderminster H Won 2-0 Hall/2 (V) 3417
Sat 18/01/03 H D3 Cambridge Utd Won 4-1 Gray, Bell, Hall/2 (V) 5206
Sat 25/01/03 A D3 Oxford Utd Lost 0-3 6508
Sat 01/02/03 H D3 Swansea City Drew 1-1 Hall 4046
Sat 08/02/03 A D3 Darlington Drew 2-2 Gray, Hall 2742
Sat 22/02/03 A D3 Southend Utd Lost 1-2 Hunter 6453
Sat 01/03/03 H D3 York City Won 2-1 Wardley, og 4463
Tue 04/03/03 H D3 AFC Bournemouth Won 2-1 Darby, Lowe 4353
Sat 08/03/03 A D3 Wrexham Lost 0-3 3441
Sat 15/03/03 H D3 Hull City Won 4-2 og, Hall, Lowe, Wardley 4713
Tue 18/03/03 A D3 Bury Won 1-0 Darby 2291
Sat 22/03/03 A D3 Boston Utd Drew 1-1 Darby 3504
Mon 24/03/03 H D3 Rochdale Drew 3-3 Hall, Lowe/2 3444
Sat 29/03/03 H D3 Exeter City Won 1-0 Darby 4921
Sat 05/04/03 A D3 Bristol Rovers Won 2-1 Lowe/2 6736
Sat 12/04/03 H D3 Lincoln City Won 1-0 Lowe 4962
Sat 19/04/03 A D3 Carlisle Utd Won 2-1 Wardley, Edwards 5468
Mon 21/04/03 H D3 Macclesfield Tn Won 3-0 Holdsworth/2, Bell 4494
Sat 26/04/03 A D3 Leyton Orient Drew 0-0 5180
Sat 03/05/03 H D3 Hartlepool Utd Drew 1-1 Hall 6291

Note – those games with a (P) in the scorers column will have match photos in the report, and those with a (V) will have a link to video highlights of the game.

Match Note 3: After Extra Time. Diamonds won 5-3 on penalties (Gray / Hall / Wardley / Turley / Underwood)

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