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Touring With The Stones; The Dust Settles

Wealdstone attempt to score against Concord Rangers

Ninety (five) minutes and the season was done and dusted. Sadly, it was Stones that were done as Concord returned the favour of a few weeks previously, nicking a couple of late goals to eliminate Wealdstone from the Ryman League play-offs for the second year running at the semi-final stage.

The fact that it was one of Wealdstone’s best performances of the season as they dominated for well over an hour will fade quickly into insignificance, as for all their superiority only one goal had been scored, the woodwork and a couple of decent saves denying perhaps four more.

So it was the Beachboys that trawled up to Suffolk on Bank Holiday Monday, and surprise, surprise, another late goal saw them beat the hosts and take their place in Conference South for next year. For Lowestoft? Their curse continues – three play-off defeats in a row and even past players who move on still suffer – was it Nolan former (twice play-off losing) ‘Stoft centre forward who missed the penalty that saw Hemel eliminated in the Southern league play-off final? That’s football though – Stones fans generally “not displeased” that Stoft had suffered again – there’s always someone worse off than yourselves…

For Concord, their ground will be a shock to some of their new opponents as will that of Whitehawk Brighton City, but only time will tell if clubs will get a second chance to visit. Or if the season’s two late goalscorers will hold their own better than last year’s Essex duo, Bill and Ricay and The Urchins, both of whom fell back through the trapdoor at the first attempt.

So what now?

The season’s over, the summer’s tumbleweed blowing over The Vale as the new seed takes root. Various maintenance tasks are being undertaken and highlight videos plastered together, the Raider is polishing up his lines for the visit of Chelski pre-season (3rd August, 3pm if you want to add it to your diary!) …. and Cricket takes over.

From some accounts, the largest cheer on Bank Holiday Monday at Lord’s during the Middlesex v Glamorgan one-dayer was for Concord’s second goal, so many of the Stones faithful imbibing in the sun that afternoon. There will be a fair sprinkling at the test matches this summer too – especially as there is no football to speak of on TV unless Guernsey have managed to secure exclusive rights to the coverage of their last nineteen home games to be played on consecutive nights over the next three weeks…only joking, but it nearly did come to that! Now they are promoted and find themselves in Ryman South, I’ve got 50p that says Wealdstone will draw them in the League Cup – but it’ll be at home, as the footie gods deny us another away day…some trip that would be!

Touring with the Stones will also take a break though I’m sure there will be some more ramblings over the next eight weeks (before pre-season starts!!) as things take my fancy – and Trev’s Wedding may be a whole blog by itself. Got the speech written Jezz?

Premier League Manager Roulette

A roulette wheel

Next season, the Premier League is set to receive a bonanza of gargantuan proportions thanks to the latest TV rights deal. The result? Club chairmen with itchy trigger fingers poised over a P45.

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Five Minutes of Your Time Please; Gordon Bartlett

Gordon Bartlett is one of the longest serving managers in the English pyramid, having spent the past 18 years at Wealdstone, following spells and Hounslow, Southall and Yeading. Here he speaks to Roge Slater about his time in the dugout.

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Touring With The Stones; Isn’t It Ironic…

Wealdstone fans celebrate with Scott McGleish after his goal against Cray Wanderers

Never let it be said that Roge Slater’s main motivation for following his club home and away is the chance to sample delicious cold ales in a variety of locations up and down the country. As Wealdstone face a double header with Bury Town, that’s just a happy by-product. With the season drawing to a natural conclusion, the thoughts of the Stones cognoscenti turn to potential playoff opponents and plot a path to promotion.

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Five Minutes of Your Time, Please; Simon Garner

Three images of Simon Garner playing for Blackburn Rovers

Roge Slater talks to former Blackburn striker Simon Garner, who had a spell at Wealdstone later in his career and who nowadays is involved in the Rovers Trust at a time when the club is in chaos at the hands of Venkys.

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Touring With The Stones: Train Keeps A Rollin’

Wealdstone's players celebrate a last-gasp winning goal against Concord Ranger

The Easter programme combined with the effects of fixture congestion mean Wealdstone face four crucial games in quick succession as they attempt to close on the league leaders. They travel to Margate, face promotion rivals Concord Rangers, a tricky visit to Wingate & Finchley and then the small matter of a Bank Holiday derby against local rivals Harrow Borough. Taking a deep breath, Roge Slater summarises events…

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The FA & Racism: Hypocrisy is the Order of the Day

Rio Ferdinand gives a thumbs up on the pitch for Manchester United

With another racism scandal erupting within English football, this time over chanting by England fans directed towards the Ferdinand brothers, we detect some double standards at play within the corridors of power.

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Five Minutes of Your Time, Please; Leo Morris

Leo Morris in thoughtful pose during a Wealdstone match

The latest in our series of interviews features Leo Morris, long-time assistant manager at Wealdstone, talking about his time in the game as part of one of non-League’s most enduring partnerships.

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The Coventry City Crisis: a Background

A view inside Coventry's Ricoh Arena, centre of the recent crisis

With Coventry City entering administration and narrowly avoiding finishing the season homeless, we take a look at some of the background to the crisis – the hedge fund owners, the City council, a charity and a stadium take centre stage.

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Southend United Sack Their Manager…More or Less

Southend United fans watching a match at their Roots Hall ground

Ron Martin’s stock is not high among Southend United fans, and he has done himself no favours with a bizarre statement announcing the replacement of manager Paul Sturrock just two weeks before a Wembley final, a match which Sturrock will still take charge of.

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