Friends are re-united in derby double

Guiseley's joint-managers Marcus Bignot (left) and Russ O'Neill.
Guiseley's joint-managers Marcus Bignot (left) and Russ O'Neill.
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THE SPICE is right for a festive derby cracker at Nethermoor today (3pm), writes LEON WOBSCHALL.

The first instalment of a juicy National League North derby double-header takes place when Bradford Park Avenue manager Mark Bower returns to his former stomping ground of Guiseley – in a fixture which will provide a host of reunions.

Mark Bower

Mark Bower

The likes of Steven Drench, Danny Lowe, Oli Johnson, Nicky Clee and Ryan Toulson also return to their former club, alongside Bower and his assistant Danny Boshell.

Bower has presided over a wonderful renaissance at the Horsfall Stadium, with Avenue returning to the National League North summit with a weekend win over Hereford.

But hosts Guiseley will be intent on checking the visitors’ rise today – and claiming some bragging rights in the process ahead of the return at Avenue on New Year’s Day.

Co-manager Marcus Bignot, whose side claimed a morale-boosting weekend success themselves against Nuneaton Borough, said: “First and foremost, the supporters all looking forward to a derby and they (Avenue) have a lot of ex-Guiseley players.

“They are going really well in the league. We are looking forward to it.

“It (this season) has been a success for them so far, but the stories can only be told at the end of the season. But they are certainly going along in the right lines and manner.

“I have seen them play quite a few times this year and I have been impressed every time I have seen them.”

Derby double-headers form a rich part of the non-league tapestry and after being involved in several others at rival clubs, Bignot is eager to sample his latest experience of one between Guiseley and Avenue.

He added: “This is the beauty of non-league, especially over the Christmas and New Year programme.

“You do get that derby feel and it is kind of taken away when you go to the professional game. It is one for the supporters and offers bragging rights. It may still only be three points, but it feels like a lot more.”

Another derby today sees Harrogate Town host FC Halifax in the National League.