Wingate’s preparation for Dulwich tie hit by Weatherstone departure

Marc Weatherstone knocks the ball forward for Wingate & Finchley (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Marc Weatherstone knocks the ball forward for Wingate & Finchley (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo). - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

The club’s record appearance holder departed N12 on Saturday to sign for Bostik Premier rivals Enfield Town

Wingate & Finchley will take on old rivals Dulwich Hamlet in the first round of the FA Trophy this weekend, but they have not had the ideal preparation for the tie.

The Blues will host the former Bostik Premier club on Saturday at the Maurice Rebak Stadium in the latest of a long list of games between the sides.

Dulwich, now of the National League South after promotion via the play-offs last season, have had numerous battles with Wingate in recent campaigns and some have produced memorable occasions.

Blues secured a superb 2-1 away win at Hamlet in January while during the 2016/17 campaign, a 3-0 defeat at Summers Lane on the final day failed to stop the N12 club making the play-offs in dramatic fashion.

Saturday will be a fascinating battle with £6,000 up for grabs and the visitors set to bring a big away contingent to north London.

Another subplot to the story of the tie would have been defender Marc Weatherstone facing his old club Dulwich, who he left during the summer to rejoin Wingate.

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However, the centre back exited N12 on Saturday to sign for league rivals Enfield Town – bringing his long association with the Blues to an end.

Weatherstone made over 400 appearances in his first spell at Summers Lane before he left in 2016 to join Hamlet, but he returned in May looking to become the club’s record appearance holder.

On November 3, away to league rivals Potters Bar Town, he went past Daniel Nielsen’s record of 451 appearances for Wingate on a proud day for the centre back.

The result was a 4-0 loss, but Weatherstone’s feat could not be knocked and he made it to 459 appearances in the end.

It is a huge loss for the Blues, but chairman Aron Sharpe paid tribute to the long-serving ace on Twitter at the weekend.

“I wish Marc Weatherstone nothing but success at Enfield Town,” he said. “Football has afforded me life-long friendships which is the reason why I dedicate my time.

“There will always be comments and emotions, but you were a fine servant to Wingate & Finchley.”

Without Weatherstone, Blues secured a 2-2 draw at Margate on Saturday thanks to Rob Laney and Loic Hernandez goals.

But Harlow Town defeated them 2-0 on Tuesday and Wingate will seek a response against Dulwich before Bishop’s Stortford visit in the Velocity Trophy on Tuesday.