Marcus Law has urged for a sense of perspective as Kettering Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds prepare to collide in a league fixture for the first time.
Both sides sit in the top five of the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central ahead of tomorrow’s New Year’s Day showdown at Latimer Park (3pm kick-off).
It means there is a lot more on the line than just the local bragging rights.
A big crowd is, of course, expected to be on hand for the clash and Poppies boss Law has urged both sets of fans to make sure all the headlines are about the game and nothing else.
“I was the manager of Kettering and we were playing a game against Chasetown when the news came through about Dale Roberts and the terrible loss the old Rushden & Diamonds suffered,” Law said.
“And I have just gone past the anniversary of my mother’s passing, which happened while I was on my way to Wrexham for a game when I was with Tamworth.
“I guess where I am going with this is that this is a football game, there has to be perspective and we should all respect each other.
“It’s a game that both teams want to win, it’s a game both sets of fans want to win.
“We want the atmosphere to be vibrant and intimidating for that 90 minutes inside the ground.
“But let’s make sure that the reports on websites and in the papers are about a full-blooded derby and not about any incidents that happen before or after the game.
“You need your local rivals to create this sort of occasion and that’s something everyone should remember.”
The Poppies will be hoping for another positive result as they bid to stay in the hunt for automatic promotion this season.
They will start the new year sitting in second place, four points behind leaders Stourbridge with three games in hand.
Diamonds are fourth and 13 points behind their local rivals but are well in the hunt for a play-off place in their impressive debut season at Step 3.
And Law insists Andy Peaks’ team merit the full respect of his side.
“It’s a local derby, it’s the first league meeting between the clubs since AFC Rushden & Diamonds was formed and even though it is a new club, it is the same core of people who followed the old one,” he added.
“I was fortunate to be in charge of Kettering for derbies against Rushden & Diamonds so I am fully aware of what they are about and what it means to people.
“It is a fine achievement for them to get to where they are now and, aside from the obvious, we are ultimately going up against the team who are fourth in the table and who are more than capable of winning the game.
“They are doing extremely well and they showed tremendous character to come back and take a point in their game at the weekend.
“So we will show them respect and we will be doing all of our usual preparation to to try to make sure we get a positive result.
“We will try not to get lost in the euphoria of the occasion. We have got a job to do and we will go and try to do it while being fully aware of how much the game means to people.”