This weekend’s home game with Ramsbottom United marks a year since Mark Hume took on the managerial reins at the Autoworld Arena and Hume says there is still work to be done to maintain the progress he believes Matlock have made in his first year in charge.

Hume, in his first stint at being a number one after being Assistant Manager at Bradford Park Avenue, masterminded the Gladiators’ Great Escape last season from a position when all seemed lost and brought silverware to the club as Matlock thrashed Gresley 7-0 in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final. Fans probably expected a higher league position this term, (Matlock currently lie in 16th spot), but Hume remains level headed and determined that the club will continue to improve on and off the field.

” I had a massive input at Bradford but it’s certainly different being the number one, I take all the pressure for the lads” he admitted. “The first three or four months were a bit of a whirlwind, we had the sole focus really of staying in the league, something that a lot of people thought wouldn’t happen and although it was what we all wanted in some ways it’s hindered us somewhat this season as people expected things would carry on just as they did at the end of last season. But I knew there was work to be done.”

Hume reckons the progress has come in various ways.

“We’ve a much better squad now than a year ago and with due respect to people in the job before me, we’re playing better football. We stayed up, won the Derbyshire Senior Cup (something I was keen to do this season only for a crippling injury list to strike us), the Academy have come along and are doing exceptionally well , I was pleased to have input into it having helped to set up an academy in the past, and the budget situation has been turned around . But I stress we’re still building and wanting to move on upwards and I’m also looking towards next season for this summer I want us to hit the ground running, something we didn’t manage to do last summer. Things don’t happen overnight but I want us to have a strong end to the season, pushing towards those play off places. I’m hopeful we might have a couple more players coming in during the next week or two.”

The squad is certainly much stronger now than at the start of the campaign when Hume himself and his number two Scott Maxfield were often named as substitutes.

“The reserves and academy have come on well and some of the reserve lads have had an opportunity in the first team. Jack Siddall in particular has been developing well and now I want him to have some regular first team football so we’ll be looking to loan him out to a Northern Counties East League side so he can get some games under his belt to continue that development.”

Ramsbottom come to Matlock as bottom markers but having shown recently they cannot be taken lightly before their improvement was abruptly halted by a 6-0 defeat at Ashton United on Tuesday night. Having been hit by flooding at their ground, the Rams switched last Saturday’s scheduled home game versus Grantham to the Lincolnshire club’s stadium and returned home with a thumping 4-0 victory, this coming after a highly impressive 3-2 win at Stourbridge seven days earlier.

“This league’s weird and as I’ve said time and time again if you’re not fully prepared then you can be beaten by anyone, it’s all about what happens on the day. They fired their warning shots in the two games before Tuesday night so we know what they’re capable of” Hume added.

Assuming the weather is kind, Saturday sees the Gladiators in action for the first time in 2016. The home meeting with Grantham a fortnight ago and last Saturday’s trip to Bishop Auckland to take on Darlington were both called off due to the monsoon conditions.

“It was a frustrating day, we had to plan to go up there just in case, but there was nothing much Darlington could have done about it. It was disappointing not to be able to play again, particularly after recent better performances as I felt we were getting some momentum. With the game off, we wanted to train but the only slot available on Saturday where we train was at 9 am when the inspection took place. We did a bit extra last Thursday anyway and our lads pride themselves on their fitness, in fact I find nowadays players look after themselves better than they used to. I also had two games I could have gone and watched but they were both called off too. We just want to get back playing on Saturday and hope that we can carry on from where we left off three weeks ago.”

Matlock should have a full squad available apart from Ted Cribley who begins a three game suspension. The Darlington away game has been rearranged for Tuesday March 8 meaning that they will face the Quakers twice in four days with the home meeting set for Saturday March 12.

Ian Richardson

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