Football: Harriers set to pull the crowds

Non-League notebook

Although police restrictions and the oddities of the fixture computer mean that Christmas holiday derbies are out of fashion in the Football League, that is not the case in the non-League world, where some big crowds and highly-charged matches are guaranteed during the next few days.

Kidderminster Harriers, 11 points clear at the top of the GM Vauxhall Conference, may well be watched by two attendances of over 3,000 in their next two games, at Rushden & Diamonds tomorrow and in the Worcestershire derby at home to Bromsgrove Rovers on Boxing Day. Rushden will also be attracting the fans in large numbers on Thursday, when they travel to their Northamptonshire rivals Kettering Town.

Boxing Day derbies in the Dr Martens League include the leaders, Gresley Rovers, making the short trip to Burton Albion, and Cheltenham Town playing at Gloucester City.

The UniBond League leaders, Leek Town, are under new management, having promoted Peter Ward from assistant manager following Phil Wilson's departure to Northwich Victoria. Another UniBond managerial appointment sees Gordon Raynor, formerly in charge at Guiseley and Bradford Park Avenue, succeed Alan Tinsley at Lancaster City.

In the Icis League, Fred Callaghan, once in charge at Brentford, has taken over in a caretaker capacity at Carshalton Athletic in place of Tony Jennings, the former England semi-professional team manager. Brian Sparrow's second spell as manager of the Dr Martens club Crawley Town lasted just 13 days - the former Crystal Palace defender missed two training sessions and was unable to travel to a fixture at Merthyr Tydfil during his brief spell in charge.

For the last five years, the hardy band of non-League followers known as groundhoppers have descended on the north-east of England every Easter for the "Northern Hop", watching three or four games per day over the holiday period. That event has come to an end - they have run out of new grounds - but the groundhoppers can now head west instead.

The Westward Developments Devon League are putting on an "Easter Hop" every year for the rest of the decade, with fixtures on 28 and 29 March next year at Alphington, Newton Abbot Spurs, Teignmouth, Buckfastleigh, Budleigh Salterton, Newton St Cyres and Willand. Further details from the Devon League secretary, Phil Hiscox: 01392 493995.

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