Non League notebook: Harriers desperate for some local cheer

In the world of non-League football, Boxing Day is derby day. While the peculiarities of the Football League fixture computer and police restrictions mean that some Nationwide clubs have to make ludicrous journeys today (Birmingham to Ipswich, Fulham to Plymouth), there is no such nonsense in the semi-professional game. Throughout the country local rivals will do battle with little sign of goodwill towards neighbours.

Last season the biggest Boxing Day non-League crowd was at Aggborough, where 6,081 fans watched Bromsgrove Rovers beat Kidderminster Harriers. Rovers' relegation from the GM Vauxhall Conference has put an end to that Worcestershire derby, so Harriers will face a different foe at noon today.

Kidderminster make the short trip to Edgar Street to renew their rivalry with Hereford United. Harriers began 1997 15 points clear at the top of the Conference, and they still feel aggrieved that it was Macclesfield and not them who replaced Hereford in the League. This term their form has been poor - only five clubs are beneath them in the table - and they are desperate for a win today to revive their fortunes.

"It's a tough game," Graham Allner, Harriers' manager, said, "but Hereford can't be happy with their home form. If we work hard our fortunes should improve. The signs are there that we're turning things round." The sides meet again at Aggborough on New Year's Day.

Elsewhere in the Conference, Stalybridge Celtic's new managerial team, Mel Sterland and Imre Varadi, face a Cheshire derby at Northwich Victoria today for their first game in charge, while Morecambe against Southport will draw a big crowd to the Lancashire coast.

In the Dr Martens League Bromsgrove entertain Halesowen Town this morning, while Nuneaton go to Atherstone and Burton Albion make the short journey to Gresley Rovers.

Local passions will be just as stirred in the lower leagues. On Teesside, Billingham Town take on Billingham Synthonia this morning, while tomorrow Sudbury Town play host to Sudbury Wanderers in Suffolk and, at noon in Somerset, Street have a league game against their neighbours, Glastonbury, for the first time since the 1954-55 season.

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