Wealdstone vs Barnet: A 'proper' derby

Wealdstone in action against Eastleigh at Grosvenor Vale

Wealdstone in action against Eastleigh at Grosvenor Vale - Credit: Jon Taffel

Genuine "derby" matches have been a rarity for Wealdstone over recent years.

But this Saturday’s long-awaited clash at The Vale with the old enemy Barnet has all of the classic ingredients for a proper derby encounter, albeit between two geographically displaced near neighbours now with settled bases a mere seven miles apart.

In the fans' eyes a derby match is about a traditional, historic grudge with a rivalry stretching back over many years, and Saturday’s fixture ticks all of those boxes. It is the first to be played out in front of paying fans in the National League since the infamous league clashes of the 1980s.

Last season’s fixture was effectively played out behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions, with the Stones hammering Barnet 5-1. Not the same thing at all, despite the result and bragging rights.

Both clubs have had indifferent seasons thus far but both seem to be picking up. The Bees appear to be rejuvenated under Stones' former boss Dean Brennan, which of course is yet another twist to this encounter, while Stones will have been boosted by the excellent win over Grimsby Town last time out, and after a long two-week break from any football.

There’s no doubting that this is a vital match on a purely points basis as each club needs to move away from the drop zone despite the season being in its relatively early stages.

A very big crowd is expected at The Vale, particularly as it falls during international week. This fixture should also excite the neutrals from London-based professional clubs looking for a game to get their football fix.

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There will definitely be more than a lingering whiff of cordite in the air on Saturday.

This game will also be marked with a solemn tribute and remembrance of all those that lost their lives in the service of their country and I always have a lump in the back of my throat when the last post is played prior to the start of this match, putting as it does all football matters firmly into perspective.

Elsewhere, forward Craig Fasanmade has joined National League South side Hemel Hempstead Town on a one-month loan deal.

The attacking player joins Stones' teammate Dan Wishart who is already on loan at the Tudors, as the pair bid to gain some more playing time.