New signings two and three in the Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins revolution checked in at Matlock Town this week, with the new Gladiators managerial duo also confirming that four of last season’s leading lights will be staying put.

Winger Jamie Yates and central defender Nico DeGirolamo are the two new faces while current fans player of the year Adam Yates, and midfielders Niall McManus, Nicky Travis and Liam Needham will wear the Gladiators blue in 2016/17.

With striker Marc Newsham arriving from Gainsborough Trinity last week, the latest news represents another highly productive week for Kirkwood and Hopkins.

Twenty seven year old Yates currently coaches the Matlock Town Academy who finished third in the table last term. His father Lenny was a crowd favourite with Matlock in the 1980’s.

Yates is delighted to double up at Matlock as a first team player following his release by Gainsborough, tweeting “after a long hard think about next season, I’ve decided to sign for the club I’ve become close to over the past year @ Matlock _Town fc very excited ”

Kirkwood admitted that he and Hopkins had never spoken to Yates before meeting up with him at the ground recently but were instantly convinced he fitted the bill.

“We chatted with him having never met him before and from speaking with him we were greatly impressed by his attitude and a great willingness to be a winner so we’re absolutely delighted to have him on board. He knows the club from his academy work plus having a spell here on loan when Atko (Mark Atkins) was in charge, and he’s a really good player, skilful, and can play some brilliant balls into the box. We like to play with wingers, we want our sides to score goals and play attacking football so he fits the bill perfectly.”

Twenty four year old DeGirolamo is well known to Kirkwood and Hopkins who believe he will prove to be as big a hit at Matlock as he was with previous clubs Heanor Town and Mickleover Sports where he was club captain.

“He’s been with me and Hoppo for the last five years and every single year he’s got better and better and better” said Kirkwood. “Mark Hume tried to get him two or three times last season but he stayed at Mickleover where he was the captain. He’s a very popular lad in the dressing room, he’s quick and reads the game well as well as being good in the air. He’s a cultured centre half and we love him to bits. He’s a natural and Mickleover did all they could to keep him but really the pull of playing for a club like Matlock was too great. He’s from Chesterfield and Matlock’s a special club to Chesterfield lads like it is for me and Hoppo. We always looked forward to playing here, night games are especially good and I’m sure Nico will do well for us.”

Kirkwood added that he was equally delighted to have Adam Yates, McManus, Travis and Needham for the coming season.

“They’re all good players who have that desire and hunger that we have and we’re also talking with some more of last season’s squad. We’re also talking with other potential signings including goalkeepers that are interested in coming. The goalkeeper is a vitally important position so you can’t have any old Tom, Dick or Harry in there, the keeper needs to be right for us and for Matlock.”

A bubbly Kirkwood sounded upbeat with progress made to date and is keen that positivity is maintained.

“All in all everything’s really positive, everybody we speak to seems to be buying into the way we do things and if that carries on then we’ll not be far off.”

Three more away fixtures have been added to Matlock’s pre season schedule. They will travel to Shirebrook Town on Saturday July 9, with trips to Worksop Town and Belper Town slotted in for Thursday July 28 and Tuesday August 9 respectively. The home meeting with Burton Albion on Saturday July 23 will now kick off at 2 pm and not 3 pm as previously advertised.

Ian Richardson

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