For new Matlock Town joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins, it’s a case of “welcome home” after eight years away from Causeway Lane.
Kirkwood and Hopkins were both crowd favourites playing for Matlock in the mid noughties before becoming joint managers of the Gladiators’ reserve side and having a short spell as joint caretaker bosses between the departure of Phil Brown and Gareth Williams and the arrival of Mark Atkins in 2008/09.
They won league titles at both Heanor Town and Mickleover Sports before handing in their resignations to Sports’ officials at the end of last season which saw Mickleover successfully win their Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division relegation battle.
Managing Matlock Town was always their dream job.
“We were desperate for it, we’d earned the right by learning our trade at Heanor and Mickleover for eight years proving some people wrong showing we COULD do it” said Kirkwood.
“Matlock was a brilliant club to play for and be involved with. We had a great time with Heanor and a brilliant three and a half years at Mickleover. We left them in a far better state than when we arrived. We know it’s a challenge here at Matlock, but it’s given us fire in our bellies. We want to give the people of Matlock a club they can be proud of and get the feel good factor back.”
Hopkins echoed these thoughts.
“Matlock’s just ten minutes away from where we live, it’s on our doorstep and having played there we love the club. It’s our local club and we’re absolutely delighted to be managing here. When the offer was made to us we just couldn’t turn it down.”
Matlock finished a disappointing seventeenth in the table last season after a promising start and both expressed sympathy for the outgoing Mark Hume.
“Mark’s gone but the supporters must never forget his first season and the start of last season. He did an unbelievable job to keep Matlock up when they were dead and buried and then they won the Derbyshire Senior Cup” said Hopkins.
Kirkwood is replacing one of his closest friends having been a team mate of Hume’s at Doncaster Rovers.
“He’s a big mate of mine, we spoke regularly so it’s hard for me. He did a brilliant job at the start, unfortunately things didn’t go well for him later on so I wish him all the best and I’m sure he’ll bounce back and do well. But now my mind’s on Matlock, I love the club and it was impossible to turn the job down, it’s the perfect job.”
So what can Matlock fans expect when the new season kicks off on August 13?
“We’ll try and play football the right way” vowed Hopkins.
“We’d want to keep the ball on the floor and to move it at pace, play attacking football. Our sides have always scored goals so we want to bring an exciting brand of football to the club that both fans and players will enjoy. But we need people to be patient, it won’t all happen at once.We want the fans to get behind us so we can take the club forward. We’ll give it our heart and soul and we want the players to do the same.”
Kirkwood and Hopkins return to vastly improved facilities at the ground from what they saw in their first Matlock spell.
“Although I’ve been to watch Matlock fairly regularly. I didn’t realise how good the new stand, dressing rooms and social club were until I came down with Mickleover last season” said Kirkwood.
“The new facilities are superb” agreed Hopkins. “Everything off the field is superb, our job is to match it on the field. There’s a great fan base at Matlock, considering where they finished last season the attendances have been excellent. We know a lot of the fans, now it’s a matter of creating a winning team for them.”