The weeks leading up to the Blackpool Cup the young development squad had played the likes of Chesterfield FC, Rotherham United, Grimsby Town FC and Burton Albion FC in preparation for the International Tournament.
A 40 man squad made the journey to Blackpool with three sides taking part in the International Tournament. The Academy under 17s Side started well on day one making light work of two Scottish sides and Swiss side F.C. Jorat-Mézières and finished second in the group to tournament favorites and Scottish Premier League side Hamilton Academicals FC who had beaten the young gladiators 2-0 earlier in the day.
The Academy under 18s team produced three amazing day one group results beating two English non-league sides before producing the result of the day by beating Blackpool FC under 19s 3-1 with goals from Madin, Middleton and Hawes to finish top of the group.
Matlock Towns ADS side was playing in the under 19s section and after gaining a 4 points from difficult encounters against Belgium side Royal Fraiture Sport and Whitley Bay FC, they powered through their last game against non-league opposition with a 2-0 win to finish top of the group on day one.
With all three side going through to the knock out stages on day two, the first encounter saw the ADS side come from behind in the quarter finals to win 4-1 against FC Rangers with crucial goals from Phillips and Wroot to book there place in the semifinals.
In the next quarter final the Academy under 18s side played out a 0-0 draw against a tough Scottish side in Kelty Marian FC. But 16 year old Maltese International Lydon Moore was the hero of the moment saving three penalties in the shoot out to send the young gladiators into a semifinal against Blackpool FC.
The first of the semifinals saw our Academy Under 17s side take on a strong Cumbernauld Colts FC side who had registered the tournaments biggest win on day one with a 8-0 win and the Colts came straight out of the blocks to go 1-0 up after a penalty which also left the young gladiators down to 10 men. But the brave and now depleted squad battled to the end and with the last kick of the game it was keeper Jordan Pierrepont who scored with an amazing strike from a corner to the joy of the supporters to send the game to penalties. The momentum was with the young gladiators and it was Lydon Moore once again who produced a penalty saving master piece to send Matlock Town FC to the Under 17s Final.
Next up it was the ADS side who took on a gritty Poulton Town FC in a semifinal played in difficult weather conditions. But the determination and commitment got them over the line with a 1-0 win following an OG after some great work from Tom Savage and a great save by Corey Bulheller to keep the young gladiators in the game.
The last semifinal saw the surprise team of the tournament in the Academy Under 18s taking on once again Blackpool FC and with yet another superb display it was a late Jenkins goal that gave them the victory to send them to the Under 19s final against the ADS side for the first time in the tournament history.
The under 19s final was a great occasion for the Matlock Town FC Development system and two goals from Wroot who finished the tournament top scorer with 5 goals and Ludow saw the ADS side win 3-0 and lift the trophy for the first time in Matlock Town’s History.
The Under 17s final was another matchup against unbeaten Scottish Premier League side and favorites Hamilton Academicals FC who also currently sit second in their own development league to Celtic. The young NPL Academy side had no more than eight players out for the final, but the squad pulled together to produce a gritty and inspiring performance with Tom Savage opening the score for the young gladiators before the Accies equalizing to send the game to yet another penalty shootout. Amazingly after 10 penalties each it was Jordan Perirepont who saved the Accies Penalty and stepped up to score to create history for Matlock Town Football Club and send the large group of players, coaches, officials and supporters in to a frenzy of joy as the NPL Academy Side Captain and Player of the Tournament Max Hunt lifted the Trophy against all the odds.
Luck favors the brave and the amazing as well as historical achievement for Matlock Town FC had been achieved. A proud moment in the clubs development history with a combined effort from the players, coaches, management and staff that will be long remembered.
The development squad will be presented with the Blackpool Cup Trophy’s at the next Matlock Town FC home game against Ramsbottom United on Tuesday the 5th of April.