Matlock Town’s 2014/15 fans Player Of the Year Jon Kennedy has left the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division club and signed for Worksop Town, two divisions below the Gladiators.

The shock news for Matlock supporters emerged on Thursday when the Tigers announced the return of the popular 34 years old custodian for a third spell at Worksop.

Matlock Chairman Tom wright explained Kennedy was offered identical terms as last season to remain with the Gladiators except that for 2015/16 it would be on a non contract basis as manager Mark Hume continues his policy of trimming the amount of contracted players at the Autoworld Arena.

Kennedy’s first stay at Worksop ended with the Tigers receiving a club record fee of 47,000 pounds from a lucrative move to Sunderland. He says his move was “a footballing decision” after four years and in excess of 200 appearances for Matlock.

“As a footballer you know when its time to move on” said Kennedy. “I’ve enjoyed my time at Matlock, there’s no bad blood, it was a footballing decision. Mark Shaw at Worksop outlined his plans, what he wanted from me and the kind of football they play and I jumped at the chance.”

Matlock boss Mark Hume wanted Kennedy to stay but was philosophical about his exit.

“We didn’t want Kendo to go for he’s an excellent goalkeeper who was outstanding for us last season. His Player Of the Year award emphasizes that. I think possibly his work commitments played a key part in his decision and he’s going back to the club where he started his career and has the opportunity to the senior figure in a very young Worksop side. We wish him all the very best for the future and thank him for all the good things he did for Matlock Town.”

Kennedy was a favourite both on and off the field at Matlock and his father John was a fixture on the terraces both at home and away games.

Whoever replaces Kennedy in goal for Matlock certainly has big boots to fill.

Hume now has the difficult task of finding that replacement although it is understood he has targets in mind.

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Fans favourite Adam Yates followed midfielder Ted Cribley in signing a contract at Matlock Town for the forthcoming season and with young Niall McManus also signing an extension to his existing contract, boss Mark Hume says the Gladiators have a good base from which to formulate their squad.

Yates, signed from Shirebrook Town by former manager Mark Atkins in March 2009, has been a consistent and popular performer for Matlock and was named as the fans player of the season in 2013/14.

“I think we have a very good base. Getting Ted and Niall initially was crucial and Yatesy ‘s a no brainer. He was terribly unlucky last season with the hamstring injury when I took over, coupled with the outstanding form of Muhammed Sabo and Julian Banton. Then he got a finger injury in an accident but when he eventually came in he showed just what a top player he is at this level. I’ve known all about him for years and when he was out I kept on talking to him, I couldn’t really leave Muhammed or Julian out when they were doing so well, that’s the way I operate. But Adam was always going to be a key member of our squad, he was fantastic for us in the last few games of last season.”

Yates is likely to be the last player put on contract by Matlock for 2015/2016.

“We had too many last season, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for maneuver especially if injuries crop up” added Hume who will utilize early training sessions and the pre season programme to assess potential new signings

“It’s still massively early and a lot of players will become available, there’s no point in signing on players for the sake of it, we need to see if they fit in with the way we work and equally we suit what they’re looking for so we make the best use of the budget we have available.”

Last season Hume used the loan market to great effect bringing in Cribley from Barrow and the Sheffield United trio of Julain Banton, Otis Khan and Jamie McDonagh. That policy is expected to continue and Hume says he does not expect the recent managerial change at Sheffield United to adversely affect future loan deals between the Blades and the Gladiators. Nigel Clough has been replaced in the United hot seat by Nigel Adkins.`

“Scott (Maxfield) and myself both know Nigel from his time at Scunthorpe and I understand Chris Morgan is still at the club. I’ve known Chris for a long time and hopefully we’ll enjoy the same fruitful relationship in tens of loans as we did last season.”

Ian Richardson

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