Honours were hard to come by in the opening ninety or so years of Matlock Town’s existence before they suddenly sprang to prominence as one of England’s most successful sides in the mid 1970’s.
They were Central Alliance Division North champions in 1959/60 and in 1960/61 which saw them join the Midland Counties League winning the title in their first season. Additionally in 1959/60 they reached the First Round of the FA Cup losing at home to Crook Town in a replay. After winning the Midland Counties League again 1968/69 they took up an offer to join the Northern Premier League where they have remained ever since.
Matlock won the FA Trophy at Wembley in 1974/75 beating Scarborough 4-0 and create a record winning FA Trophy final winning margin. Three brothers, Tom, Mick and Nick Fenoughty were in the side, the only time that three brothers have featured in a cup final side at the stadium.
At the start of the season former England international Peter Swan had taken over as manager and brought about a fantastic attacking style to Matlock’s play. Success came earlier in the 1974/75 season with the Gladiators, as they are known, reaching the First Round of the FA Cup for only the second time, being beaten 4-1 at home by Blackburn Rovers . Two days after their Wembley win, Matlock beat Glossop 6-1 and 9-3 on aggregate to win the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Tom Fenoughty replaced Swan at the start of the 1976/77 campaign, one which saw Matlock reach the Third Round of the FA Cup for the one and only time. Eventual Third Division Champions Mansfield Town were thrashed 5-2 at Field Mill in Round Two, the run coming to an end at Second Division Carlisle United. They narrowly missed out on the league title finishing in third spot behind Boston United and Northwich Victoria, but silverware came their way via the Derbyshire Senior Cup as they defeated New Mills in the final.
In 1977/78 Matlock beat Boston United 3-0 at Maine Road to lift the NPL Challenge Cup to qualify for the Anglo-Italian non league tournament in 1979. After losing 2-1 at both Chieti and Pisa in Italy, they beat Juniorcasale and Cremonese 2-0 in England, the Gladiators finishing as English runners-up to Sutton United.
The Gladiators’ best league campaign to date was in 1983/84 when they finished as runners up to Barrow. Their last FA Cup First Round appearance was in 1989/90 when they were beaten 4-1 at Scunthorpe United.
Matlock lost their Premier Division status at the end of the 1995/96 season after finishing bottom and it was not until 2003/04 that they regained their place in the top flight as they finished second behind Hyde United. In the following season they won the League Cup again beating Whitby Town in a two legged final.
Since then Matlock’s league form has been patchy, their best effort being a fifth placed finish in 2006/07, unfortunately they were defeated away at Witton Albion after extra time in the play off semi final. Wincham Park proved to be unlucky for Matlock in that season as Fleetwood Town beat them 1-0 to win the NPL Cup Final there.
Their most recent honours have been in the Derbyshire Senior Cup which they won in 2014/15 and 2016/2017, beating Gresley 7-0 and 5-0 in finals played at Chesterfield FC.
Matlock have one of the most picturesque grounds in the country, a setting which has improved immeasurably in recent seasons with a brand new stand containing changing rooms and a brand new Social Club being erected and ready for action in 2011.
They also have one of the most respected Academy set-ups in non league football and in July 2018, their youngsters took part in a tournament in China, beating Arsenal’s youngsters 1-0 and the Fiji National U17 side to win their group and eventually finish with the bronze medal. . Two of their young players, Max Hunt and Zak Brunt have made the move to the professional game joining Derby County and Sheffield United respectively.
FA Challenge Trophy Winners 1974/75
NPL Cup Winners 1977/78, 2004/05
NPL Cup Runners-Up 2006/07
NPL Shield Winners 1978/79
NPL Runners Up 1983/84
NPL (UniBond) Division One Runners-Up 2003/04
Derbyshire Senior Cup Winners 1974/75, 1976/77, 1977/78, 1983/84, 1984/85, 1991/92, 2003/04, 2009/10, 2014/15, 2016/17
Derbyshire Senior Cup Runners Up 1960/61, 1963/64, 1971/72, 1973/74, 1975/76, 1980/81, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1989/90, 1993/94, 1997/98, 2006/07, 2008/09, 2012/13
Evans Halshaw Floodlit Cup Winners 1988/89, 1990/91
Central Alliance Division North Champions 1959/60. 1960/61
Midland Counties League Champions 1961/62, 1968/69
FA CUP First Round Appearances:
1959/60—lost 1-0 at home to Crook Town in replay
1974/75—lost 4-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers
1975/96—lost 4-1 away to Wigan Athletic
1976/77—beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 at home
1989/90—lost 4-1 away to Scunthorpe United
FA CUP Second Round Appearances:
1976/77—beat Mansfield Town 5-2 away
F A CUP Third Round Appearances:
1976/77—lost 5-1 away to Carlisle United
Record goalscorer in a season: Ross Hannah, 52 in 2010/11