Captain Adam Yates makes his 400th appearance for Matlock Town this weekend as the Gladiators aim to put the narrow and unfortunate 1-0 home defeat by Shaw Lane on Tuesday night when they welcome Sutton Coldfield Town to the DCJ Group Arena.
28 years old Yates has taken over the Mr Matlock Town mantle from former skipper James Lukic, like Yates a top quality defender who played over 600 times for Matlock.
A special presentation will be made to Yates before kick off on Saturday when he will be sure to receive a rousing reception.
Yates made his debut as a late substitute on 8 March 2009 when Matlock secured an equally late victory over FC United of Manchester, having been brought to the club by manager Mark Atkins following an impressive performance against the Gladiators for Shirebrook Town in the Derbyshire Senior Cup semi final.
“It feels like yesterday, it never crossed my mind that I would play 400 games never mind captain the side” said Yates.
“I just wanted to play football and break into the first team because it was a totally different level from what I’d been used to with Shirebrook. But also that knowledge I’d gained at both Bolsover and Shirebrook put me in good stead for what was to come here at Matlock.”
Yates is grateful to Atkins, a man he holds in high regard.
“I must thank him for giving me the chance, he obviously saw something in me and I think and hope I’ve rewarded him for the faith he had. “
Yates says a personal highlight was captaining Matlock to victory in last season’s Derbyshire Senior Cup Final but on a more general note he added
“It’s been great to see the club develop, it’s come a long way in my time here, it’s changed totally with the new facilities and is unrecognisable from when I first joined,. The people who make the club tick are still here. There’s been changes in management in the last year or two, but as well as playing for the managers, I like to feel I’m playing for the club as well. It’s a real family club that has made me and all of my family most welcome. The club lives within its means and it has looked after me. I’ve tried to perform to the best of my ability, week in, week out, that’s the way I am.”
Yates has few regrets but said he wished Matlock had managed some better league positions over the years.
“Cup games are all very well, make no mistake it’s great to win them but you’re judged on your league position and I wish we could have made the play-offs. We came close particularly when Ross Hannah was knocking in the goals for us. Last year we were disappointed to drop off towards the end of the season but perhaps we slightly over performed, we were a surprise package. It’s been a bit of a mixed start for us but look at the results in general, we’ll all be doing our very best to get up that league.”
Both Joint boss Glenn Kirkwood and Chairman Tom Wright paid tribute to Yates.
“He’s been top draw in Hoppo and my time in charge, he’s a real leader and our captain, a brilliant player and deserves all the accolades he gets” said Kirkwood.
Wright added, “Adam’s a very popular lad at the club and a true ambassador for Matlock Town. It’s a real pleasure to watch him play, I’m sure our fans will turn out on Saturday to give him the appreciation and thanks he undoubtedly deserves”.