Apr 11 2012 By Jon Batham
THREE points towards the playoff push plunging your closest rivals closer to the relegation trap door in the process.
That is the ideal case scenario for most Wealdstone fans ahead of the most significant derby clash with Harrow Borough in many a year tonight – but Gordon Bartlett was a dissenting voice to at least half of that plan ahead of the action at Earlsmead.
While the average supporter from The Vale has revelled in the struggles of the first year of the Dave Anderson era, the Stones’ boss confessed he was ‘delighted’ at the ‘reds’ recent upturn in form leading to a massive three points against Stones’ rivals for the last playoff spot on Saturday.
Bartlett you see has been around football long enough to know the value of a derby day rivalry especially at non-league level. So while the gloves will be well and truly off in the battle for three precious points needed for very different reasons, Bartlett hopes any victory for his side won’t condemn Borough to the drop.
He said: “Harrow have done very well lately and the first thing you want is for them to be in the Ryman league next year because if we don’t make promotion we want a local derby in the fixtures, so I’m delighted they are doing better. We did them a favour winning at Hastings, they’ve done us a favour winning at Cray. Hopefully they are now safe so they can do us another favour tonight.”
One man who looks certain to enter the fray in the stones cause is former skipper Lee Chappell.
Left out of the team for Monday night’s Middlesex Senior Cup defeat to Hampton, Chappell is a man who revels in such clashes, scoring many of his goals against the arch rivals.
The 26-year-old joins the likes of Chris O’Leary, Peter Dean, Richard Jolly and Alan Massey in forming a core of players who are steeped in the atmosphere of derby day.
Harrow by contrast after a year of constant ins and outs will have a high number of derby debutants and according to Chappell it is his side’s greater continuity which gives Wealdstone the edge.
He said: “They (Harrow) have a higher turnover of players to us every year. We keep the same core group and we have got more fans so it means more to us and we always seem to turn up at the derby.
“It is at their patch this time, but we have done it there before – I love scoring there. There is pressure on them to stay up, but we are not worried about them. If we win we keep the pressure on the teams above us.”