Old pals lock horns for derbies
As youngsters growing up in West London, Bartlett and Devonshire played together for Viking Sports in Greenford, as well as for the Ealing District Schools side.
But while Devonshire went on to make his name with West Ham and England, injury curtailed Bartlett’s playing days and he made his mark as a manager instead.
The man who last year celebrated two decades in the Wealdstone hotseat now leads his side into a festive doubleheader against Devonshire’s Maidenhead United.
But while Maidenhead are runaway National League South leaders, the Stones have the psychological advantage of having knocked them out of the FA Trophy last month.
Bartlett said: “Me and Dev played together quite a bit as youngsters, then he went on to have this fantastic career while mine was snuffed out. We’ve had many battles as managers, and I have the utmost respect for him as a manager.
“But putting them out the FA Trophy counts for nothing. They have the upper hand, being top of the table and beating a promotion rival 5-0 on Saturday. They’re on fire and Dave Tarpey is scoring for fun, but we know we’ve got a chance after the Trophy game, and I think they will respect us.
“We’ve gone six games unbeaten now, the confidence is building and it feels like we’ve turned the corner. But with Ebbsfleet, and then Southport in the Trophy to come after Maidenhead, you couldn’t pick a tougher run of games.”
While Maidenhead were hammering Dartford on Saturday, it took a last-minute lOmar Koroma leveller for the Stones to grab a 1-1 draw at Poole Town.
Bartlett said: “I was delighted to gain a point in that manner but disappointed because we should have had all three. We hit the woodwork and their keeper was man of the match by a country mile.”
Bartlett is hoping to have Liam Gould back from injury for the derbies and should definitely have Tom Hamblin back. Johnny Wright, who was on the bench at Poole despite not being fit, should be available, but striker Sahr Kabba has joined neighbours Harrow Borough on loan.
Bartlett said: “Sahr’s got tremendous pace and is a proven scorer, and we’re hoping going out on loan will light the touchpaper for him.”
REUNITED: Wealdstone fixture Gordon Bartlett is looking forward to crossing swords with managerial rival – and former teammate – Alan Devonshire again Picture: John-Patrick Fletcher