Hednesford Preview by Phil Bennett

Its Derby day, the one now called El Chasico, as we meet our adversaries from the other side of Cannock Chase. Hednesford held the upper hand last season with two league wins, but we won the big one, beating then in the final of the Staffs Senior Cup, to finish with some silver ware.

Had it not been for the demise of Shaw Lane, then this fixture would not have occurred as Hednesford were initially put in the Southern League Central following the reorganisation of non-league football by the FA. In moving Hednesford it looked like Hednesford were effectively given Shaw Lanes fixtures, meaning that the two derby games do not feature as the big holiday fixtures drawing in bigger crowds than a Tuesday night in September and a Saturday so close to Christmas.

Steve Burr fully understands the meaning of this game as he played for both sides during his playing career. It sums it up when a few years ago on Sky TV the interviewer asked Ashley Williams the Swansea defender (at the time) about the big derby day game with Cardiff in the Premiership. His reply was that it was not as big as an Hednesford Stafford Rangers derby game. We will forgive him for that as he played for the “other” team that day.

Derby games are big fixtures for the fans, and we can only hope that Steve and his team let the players know about the need not only to win 3 points, but to do one over your local rivals, which of course will be a double for this season following our 3-1 win at Keys Park. Adam, Jack and Izak all know the importance of this fixture, and I am sure they will let their colleagues know the significance, and none more so than from Tom who has played for both sides in this clash of old. However, possible Hednesford players include former Rangers stalwarts, Jos Craddock and Sam Griffiths, so it promises a right ding dong battle.

Another big one for the fans is that the game should see the unveiling of the new shed end. A great effort by the organising team and the fans for putting up the funds, to allow the fans to have a “covered home” again to hopefully get the echoing sound to become the 12th man.

El Chasico league games this century highlights how close we are to each other, with fixtures at Stafford in the main very close. Here are the results for the Stafford home game this century:
2001/02 3-0 SPL
2002/03 1-1 SPL
2003/04 1-1 SPL
2005/06 1-1 Conf N
2011/12 0-1 NPL
2012/13 0-1 NPL
2016/17 2-1 NPL
2017/18 0-1 NPL

This game therefore needs no introduction and it’s a game all fans want to see, so please get on down to Marston Road to see the opening of the new Shed end cover, followed by 3 well-earned points.

Games played on December 15 this century

2001 Chelmsford A 0-0 Southern League
2007 Ossett Town H 3-1 F A Trophy round 1
2010 Market Drayton A 4-1 Staffs Senior Cup
2012 Kendal H 5-1 Northern Premier League