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Red-hot Stones won't be caught cold

PUBLISHED: 15:57 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:51 24 August 2010

Gordon Bartlett

Gordon Bartlett

By Ian Cooper WEALDSTONE boss Gordon Bartlett admits his side are starting the season again as he prepares to set aside personal glory to focus on a play-off charge. Bartlett is just six games away from his 1000th as Stones manager, and this week he sig

By Ian Cooper

WEALDSTONE boss Gordon Bartlett admits his side are 'starting the season again' as he prepares to set aside personal glory to focus on a play-off charge.

Bartlett is just six games away from his 1000th as Stones manager, and this week he signed a contract extension which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2010-11 season.

That will make it an amazing 16 years with Wealdstone, but Bartlett is in no mood to celebrate his landmark achievement just yet, instead focussing on keeping the Stones on track through the winter weather that has threatened to derail their promotion charge.

Wealdstone have played at least three games less than all their fellow promotion hopefuls, and it is this impending pile-up of games which has left Bartlett pondering a fixture nightmare in the second half of the season.

"It is making it very difficult, and I've certainly never experienced anything like it," said Bartlett, whose team haven't played since their 2-1 win over Harrow Borough on December 28. "We're in the second week of January and we still have to play 25 league games, it feels like we're starting the season all over again.

"In many ways it's harder than at the start of the season. At least then we have pre-season games to get the players in shape, but we haven't even had those, we've had three or four weeks of inactivity.

"But we'll deal with it, it's part and parcel of football management. These things are put in your way and it's about how you deal with them. It's a massive few weeks, and we might end up having to play Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but we're still in the promotion places and that's where we want to be come the end of April."

If Wealdstone can defy the winter freeze and regain the momentum they built before Christmas, which saw them lose just twice in the league, then Bartlett will know his team are red-hot favourites to win promotion to Blue Square South.

Much will depend on the performance of Bartlett's key players, one of whom, centre-half Alan Massey followed in his manager's footsteps by extending his contract until the end of next season.

Bartlett has based his entire tenure upon developing his younger players, and while he as he prepares to take charge for the 1000th time, he is adamant this season can continue more than a decade of progress. "There aren't too many people that have managed it and I think the club are planning something for it," he added. "It's been a real rollercoaster ride, obviously some tremendous high points, and some low points as well.

"There is a certain amount of pride. In the 14 seasons I've been here, we've finished higher than the previous year in 13 of them.


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