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Stones set up Bartlett's big day

PUBLISHED: 13:15 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 13:35 24 August 2010

By Ian Cooper GORDON Bartlett will be honoured for his 14 years as Wealdstone boss with a testimonial match against Watford at Grosvenor Vale next month. The match on July 18 is one of two high-profile pre-season games the Stones will play before next sea

By Ian Cooper

GORDON Bartlett will be honoured for his 14 years as Wealdstone boss with a testimonial match against Watford at Grosvenor Vale next month.

The match on July 18 is one of two high-profile pre-season games the Stones will play before next season, with Leeds United also visiting north-west London on July 21.

Since his arrival in June 1995, Bartlett and his assistant Leo Morris have guided the club away from administration, to four promotions, and produced a string of gifted young players, several of whom have moved on to league clubs.

But Bartlett, who is already planning feverishly for next season, insists tribute should be paid to everyone at the club. He said: "I've actually turned down the testimonial the last four years because we haven't been in the financial position to do it.

"It's nice from my point of view and I hope people turn up and there's a bit of prestige to it, but I'm more interested in how we play.

"People say well done, but it's only worked because I've surrounded myself with good people, all the backroom staff; the kit-men, the physios. I might be the leader but they all play a big part in it."

He also reserved special praise for Morris, with whom he has worked through most of his managerial career, at Hounslow Town, Yeading, Southall and Wealdstone.

"His presence has been massive, I can't praise him enough," added Bartlett. "I've known him for 23 years and we think along the same lines, so it works well.

"We came to this club together, and when we arrived there were only two players, the club was in administration and we had no ground.

"We've now got our own ground in the Ryman League, a scholarship team with Stanmore College, and an under-18s reserve and first team, so I think we can look back and say we've done well."

Bartlett, who played for Portsmouth, Brentford and Denver Dynamos, won the Middlesex Charity Cup final with the Stones in 2004, having previously taken both Southall and Yeading to FA Vase finals at Wembley.

His and Wealdstone's relationship with Watford stems back to the days of ex-Hornets manager Aidy Boothroyd, when the strong links formed enabled players such as John Joe O'Toole, Theo Robinson and Marvin Sordell to enjoy loan spells at Wealdstone.

It's a tradition of youth development which has served Bartlett's side well, and continues to do so.

The Stones also face Leeds United in a friendly at Grosvenor Vale three days after Bartlett's testimonial, as part of the deal that took striker Jermaine Beckford to Elland Road in 2006.

Beckford himself may not feature, having recently been transfer-listed by the Yorkshire side, but Bartlett said it would be 'fantastic' to see him back at the Vale.

And the boss believes his current squad, who have an average age of just 21, are well equipped to continue the steady momentum of the last 14 years.

"We try and establish links with other clubs, which is important," he added. "They grew together game by game last season and I'm happy, I believe in them."

Bartlett's last word, though, went to the fans, whom he labelled 'incredible' during his time at the helm so far.

"They've kept this club afloat," he said. "I get a bit of abuse when it doesn't go well, but that's football.

"It's a people's club and everyone gets involved, I take my hat off to them.


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