'We might spring a surprise or two' - the lowdown on Chesterfield's National League opponents Wealdstone
Chesterfield go head-to-head with Wealdstone for the first time ever on Saturday as the 2020/2021 National League season finally gets underway.
The Stones were crowned champions of the National League South last season after finishing three points ahead of Havant & Waterlooville.
They are managed by Dublin-born Dean Brennan, who came through the ranks at Sheffield Wednesday and played for several non-league clubs before becoming a manager at just 29.
The now 40-year-old led Wealdstone to promotion at the first attempt after playing an attractive style of attacking football.
There’s no danger of Brennan’s side not being up to scratch in terms of fitness after playing 11 pre-season riendlies (W4 L6 D1). Like Chesterfield, they have suffered defeats to lower league opposition.
Unfortunately no fans will be allowed entry into the 4,000 capacity Grosvenor Vale stadium this weekend because of the current Covid restrictions.
Such is the impact of the pandemic the club has revealed that by the end of the month they will have no longer have any paid staff except the managers and players.
But the Stones’ fanbase has raised an incredible £35,000 to help their club.
Wealdstone’s well-known former players include Vinnie Jones, Stuart Pearce and Jermaine Beckford.
And of course we can’t forget Wealdstone’s famous fan, Gordon Hill, known as the ‘Wealdstone Raider’. It is quite ironic that Chesterfield will be heading to Grosvenor Vale with ’no fans’.
Here, lifelong Stones fan, Nick DuGard, provides an insight into what the Spireites can expect...
What are the expectations for Wealdstone this season having won promotion in the last campaign?
Expectations are realistic on the basis of the club’s resources and budget and taking into account current Covid issues. But manager Dean Brennan has made it clear that we are not here to make the numbers up and we may spring some surprises. We shocked a few big clubs last season.
What style of play can we expect to see from Wealdstone?
Last season’s success was based on speed going forward and overloading defences. This season may see a change to adapt at the higher level.
What can you tell us about manager Dean Brennan?
Although still relatively young Dean has lots of experience and has learnt management the hard way and has played as a pro. A very honest manager who is not afraid to make player decisions when required. He likes attacking football.
Who are they key men for Wealdstone?
Big front man Ross Lafayette and Michee Efete is always a threat down the flank. And Dennon Lewis is a tricky forward who can score goals - we thought he would be signed into the EFL.
What about incomings and outgoings?
Only one key man has left and this is Billy Clifford. Transfer business has been relatively quiet in difficult current circumstances but may not yet be concluded. Danny Parish, a forward, has done well in pre-season coming in from a lower level.
How has pre-season gone?
Mixed and influenced by lots of trialists coming and going. It could have been more settled.
How has the club been coping financially given everything that has happened with Covid?
It’s an extremely difficult time for the club and much of our income derived from our successful social club which has effectively been shut since lockdown.