Maidstone United, the Kent-based team who play promotion-chasing Wrexham at the Racecourse on Saturday, were the first club I reported on as a young sports journalist.
At the age of 18 I worked for the Kent Messenger, Maidstone were playing Southern League Division One football, Bobby Houghton was player/manager and Roy Hodgson his assistant.
Houghton went on to guide Swedish club Malmo to the 1979 European Cup final, where they lost against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest 1-0 with Trevor Francis netting the only goal.
Croydon-born Hodgson is now, like Houghton, aged 70 and has managed 16 different teams in eight countries.
He was in charge of the England team from 2012 to 2016 and today is manager of Premier League Crystal Palace.
Both Houghton and Hodgson were dismissed by Maidstone United chairman Jim Thompson despite finishing third – one point behind top two Waterlooville and Ramsgate, who both achieved 39 points from 30 fixtures (two points for a win, one for a draw).
Merthyr Tydfil were playing in the Southern League Premier Division, but were relegated during that 1971-72 season.
Today, former Maidstone United Jay Saunders is Maidstone manager. He took charge in 2010 and has led them to three promotions, from Isthmian League Division One to the National League.
Saunders will go head-to-head with Wrexham manager Andy Davies at the Racecourse. The ‘Stones are clear of immediate relegation danger, while the Dragons are chasing hard for promotion.
Davies is in charge of Wrexham until the end of this season, having taken over following the departure of Dean Keates to Walsall.
The coaching team working with Davies, whose first match in charge was the 2-2 draw against Woking away, includes former Cardiff City goalkeeper Michael Oakes.
Carl Darlington is first team coach, while Stephen Wright, Nick Barnett and Phil Davies complete the team working under Davies.
Wrexham are fifth in the National League with eight games to go and intent on regaining their place in the Football League.
Macclesfield Town are well clear at the top and Wrexham’s best chance is likely to come via the play-offs.
The Dragons, though, are unbeaten in 14 matches and are unbeaten in 2018. Their last home win resulted in a win against Chester FC in the Cross-Border Derby with Scott Quigley and Nicky Deverdics scoring.
Maidstone United are in their best form of the season, recording back-to-back wins for the first time.
James Jennings is available after serving his suspension, while Manny Smith could return after missing the draw at Woking due to a hip injury.
“Maidstone play direct, but they’ve lost their main striker Joe Pigott, who has signed for AFC Wimbledon,” says Smith. “A lot of their play went through him and it will be interesting to see how they approach Saturday.”
Smith is delighted to be working with new manager Davies, saying: “Andy was already a big voice in and out of the dressing room.
“Nothing has changed. Our attitude is the same. The squad is full of experienced players and we know what needs to be done.
“Andy has the full respect of all the players, as do all the backroom staff. We’re all working together to pick up as many points as we can between now and the end of the season.”
Hull City striker Greg Luer has joined National League side Maidstone on loan.
Luer was signed by Hull from Burgess Town in January 2015 and has made nine appearances for the club.
The 23-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has spent time on loan with Port Vale, Scunthorpe United and Stevenage.
Maidstone are 16th in the National League, nine points above the relegation zone with nine matches remaining.