DISS RFC coach Phil Sharpe has fired up tomorrow’s Mackenders derby showdown with Bury St Edmunds (3pm) by saying their neighbours have been more like a little brother than a rival.
The Blues’ chief, who used to play for Bury, has said the significance of the game is lost on him as Diss have always been the bigger club, meaning the North Walsham derby is the one that has meant much more.
And Sharpe didn’t stop there, also having a dig at their neighbour’s player recruitment policy.
“Bury means absolutely nothing to me,” he said. “North Walsham was the big one psychologically, but Bury have always been leagues below Diss. Even when I was at Bury, Diss were always above them.
“At Diss we are definitely going through a developmental phase and we are definitely aware of what they are doing.
“We are interested in local, homegrown players who are immersed in our communities, not buying people in.”
He added: “I wouldn’t say the way Bury are doing it is the wrong way, it is their way.”
The match is already set to a lively backdrop, with Bury having been deducted 25 points that will cost them a shot at promotion after a registration error when fielding a player borrowed from Diss, but Bury coach Gavin Hogg has insisted this adds nothing to the fixture.
However, Sharpe believes they owe Bury one from December’s game down the A143, where Bury came from behind to draw 25-25.
He said: “I think if we had a different standard of refereeing we would have beaten them at theirs.
“The amount of added time that was played was unbelievable.”
Bury’s points deduction has only served to spur them on though, with the Haberden outfit winning their last eight games, but Diss – who cannot be caught in fourth place by their fifth-placed opponents, with two to play – have won five on the bounce.
He added: “We are certainly not afraid of them. They have brought in a lot more players as they have been hellbent on getting promoted this season, but even if they had those 25 points they would still not have been promoted.
“We will play some younger development players and see how they react under pressure – Todd Wishart has had a good season and it is another big game for him.”
But Sharpe insists he is taking the game very seriously, in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd for the Blues’ last home league game, with a Woodforde’s Norfolk Cup final still to host against North Walsham.
Fraser Hall and Rickie Holt (broken legs), Mike Fuller (knee and hip), Charlie Percious (shoulder) and Jimmy Gowing (head) will all miss out.
n FOR live match updates from Mackenders tomorrow, follow @russ claydon on Twitter from 2.30pm.