It’s been training rather than playing for Matlock Town’s squad as the wet weather put off their visit to Nantwich last Saturday and then Tuesday night’s home meeting with Rushall Olympic.

It might not have been such a bad thing as far as the Gladiators are concerned for it has given them time to work on the deficiencies which have cost them dear recently in time for this weekend’s home clash with Witton Albion.

The last three visiting sides to the DCJ Group Arena have each scored three goals and Albion also hit three against Matlock last November when the sides shared six goals in Cheshire.

Joint bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood would no doubt have been concentrating on improving Matlock’s defensive game in the hastily arranged training sessions held on Saturday and on Tuesday night.

“All ten outfield players have to play their part in helping out Phil Barnes” said Hopkins.

“Eleven people have to defend properly. When we’ve done well in the past we’ve had energy and that energy and spark hasn’t been there all of the time this season. Our teams have been athletic and played at a tempo and we’ve reminded the lads about this.”

Witton currently lie in tenth spot having picked up one more point on their travels than they have gained on home soil. Hopkins admitted to having some thoughts on next season but maintained that the next game is foremost in the management’s thoughts.

“Yes we’re looking at next season but the important thing is to get things right at the minute. We’re making enquiries about players with next season in mind when we want to get back to having a young, hungry, athletic team. We’re concentrating on getting a good result against Witton on Saturday. They’re a good side with energy and good players, it’ll be a hard game but we’re looking forward to it. It was a cracking game up there that could have finished 6-6 when both sides looked threatening. The lads have worked hard in training and in all honesty we’re not a million miles off and we’re bursting to get going on Saturday.”

The Gladiators languish down in eighteenth position but with the reorganisation the non league system taking place in the summer, they are comfortably clear of the one relegation spot this season.

But Hopkins says the league position is a cause for concern.

“The league position we’ve been in has been a concern all year and we can’t say we’re better than we are. We have thirty eight points from thirty two games because it’s what we’ve deserved and we’ve all got to work hard to improve on that.”

A fresh face is likely to be added to the squad before the weekend. Matlock have one or two injury and illness doubts as players will be assessed again at tonight’s (Thursday’s) training session.

Ian Richardson

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Matlock Town’s 50th Sportsmans Dinner on Thursday March 22 will give guests the opportunity to meet some of the Gladiators’ best ever players as several members of the 1975 FA Trophy winning side will be in attendance.

Guest speaker for the event at the Shorts Lounge at the DCJ Group Arena is the talented former Arsenal and Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Brady who played seventy two times for his country. Brady made 309 appearances for Arsenal and also starred for West Ham United after playing abroad for the likes of Sampdoria, Juventus, Internatzionale and Ascoli. Joining Brady for the entertainment is comedian Daniel Woodward.

The list of Matlock Town legends at the dinner is an appetising one.

All three Fenoughty brothers, Tom, Mick and Nick will be there, and all started the 4-0 win over Scarborough at the old Wembley Stadium, the only time that three brothers have represented the same club in a Wembley final. Tom and Nick scored the third and fourth goals respectively while Tom and Mick would go on to be future managers of the Gladiators.

Big pals Colin Dawson and Peter Scott remain long life friends and have been together to Matlock games in recent seasons. Dawson netted a birthday goal at Wembley doubling Matlock’s lead on the hour, and while fans favourite Scottie did not find the target on the day, he proved to be one of |Matlock’s most legendary strikers on a par with the likes of Gordon Duggins, Bobby Mountain and Ross Hannah.

All four goalscorers will be making an appearance as wizard of the wing Colin Oxley who put Matlock in front will be there to meet guests. He scored some magnificent goals for the club and was the Matlock marksman when Matlock made it to the FA Cup Third Round for the only time in their history in January 1977, the Gladiators losing 5-1 at Carlisle United,

Popular full backs Colin Smith and Dave Goodwin will also be joined by goalkeeper David Fell. Smith was a model of consistency who unfortunately never managed a goal in Matlock colours while Goodwin, nicknamed as Shunter (this being his job) was a hard and uncompromising defender. Unfortunately injury kept him out of the final but he managed a goal when Matlock incredibly won at Mansfield in the FA Cup 2nd Round eighteen months later.

Fell, who played Hope Valley League football for Bamford, of course kept a clean sheet and would have played many more games for the Gladiators, had he not suffered a broken leg at Wigan,in the FA Cup 1st Round defeat in November 1975.

So a memorable night is in prospect.

“It should be a special evening for everyone who’s there and we’d like to see the place packed. Seeing the lads again will evoke a lot of great memories, they were certainly special players who did the club and the town proud” said Chairman Tom Wright.

More information and tickets are available from Tom Wright , tel 07850 065968, see also www.matlock town fc.co.uk

Ian Richardson

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