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Ahead of Saturday's game with Wealdstone, we speak to Adam Hills, host of the 'Stonescast' podcast (@Stonecast85).

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Since winning the National League South in 2019/20, Wealdstone have finished in 19th and 16th place in the National League Prem over the past two seasons. How do you reflect on the last two campaigns and what are the hopes for this year?

Most Stones fans would choose not to reflect on the behind-closed-doors 2020/21 season when we conceded 99 goals Everyone at the club was relieved when the season finally came to an end. Last season was enjoyable and was, certainly from a fans’ perspective, the first proper season back at the top level. We punched above our weight and ultimately achieved our goal of avoiding relegation with plenty to spare. Despite the start we’ve had, most fans would primarily expect us to stay up and hopefully improve on 16th.

Manager Stuart Maynard became manager 18 months ago replacing Dean Brennan, what do fans make of the current boss and the club being one of two sides (with Wanderers) who operate on a part-time basis?

Whilst Maynard took the reins from Dean Brennan in early 2021, he had prior been his assistant, so he’s in theory in his 4th season with the club. Maynard, and his assistant Matty Saunders, have created an identity for Wealdstone, one which has started to be noticed around the league. They have their critics, and some could argue they can be tactically stubborn, but they’re delivering tremendous value for a part-time setup, which they have maximised the opportunity for.

Top scorer Rhys Browne made a surprise exit from the club just before the FA Cup weekend, how big a loss is he and who will the team look to for goals moving forward?

Rhys’ departure came as a shock and it’s going to leave a big void in respect of the fact that he has scored 50% of our goals in the league this season. Fela Olomola is our #9 but perhaps the expectation for goals will fall on new signing Simeon Akinola, who has scored in both of his ‘off the bench’ appearances so far.

Who are the key players from last season and newer arrivals we should keep an eye out for?

Jack Cook is usually the name most Stones fans will reference and the skipper has continued his imperious form from last season, despite some recent setbacks with injury. Ashley Charles and Nathan Ferguson have been outstanding in midfield and are the heartbeat of our possession-based football whilst David Sesay is playing his best football in a Stones shirt. Of the new arrivals, Tarryn Allarakhia adds our creative spark whilst young Deji Elerewe, on loan from Charlton, is showing why he has been knocking on their first team door.

Wealdstone currently sit in 9th after making a good start with 5 wins from the first 6 games followed by 3 draws - what do fans make of how the campaign has gone so far?

The start certainly caught a few of us by surprise and to be top after 5 games was amazing. We’re earning plaudits for our style of football and are no longer under the radar. However, after that good start we’ve only won once in 9 games and limped tamely out of the FA Cup last weekend. We’ve got a difficult run of fixtures coming up, so things remain somewhat in the balance. We need to keep putting points on the board.

We are looking forward to welcoming Wealdstone fans to Meadowbank on October 22nd. What was the most memorable away day for the club last season?

We made some good impressions, both on and off the pitch – at the traditional BELTs (Notts County, Stockport, Grimsby in particular) but kept coming away with narrow defeats. So perhaps the smash and grab win at Southend on Easter Monday, in front of 350 noisy away fans is the pick.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Really looking forward to the game and expecting a tough afternoon. The recent fixtures (between the teams in the NLS) were extremely competitive and closely fought. Both sides should be looking to really establish themselves in this league in the coming years and I think this fixture could turn into a bit of a rivalry.


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