Surprise good news greeted Matlock fans ahead of Tuesday night’s pre season friendly victory over Belper Town when they learned that defender Micky Harcourt will be staying at the Autoworld Arena after all.

Harcourt looked set for a move to Buxton after four seasons and over 150 appearances for the Gladiators since his move from Glapwell in the summer of 2010. He played in three friendlies for the Bucks but decided his future still lay at the Autoworld Arena to delight Town boss Mark Hume who, it appears, has played a trump card in the affair.

“I wanted him to stay and deep down I think Mick didn’t want to leave” said Hume. ” The deal we’d offered him was a good one but not as much as he’d been on and if he was staying here it was important for me to know he was staying for the right reasons, so I said to him to go out there, test the water and see how he feels. He’s obviously been up to Buxton but rang me about staying at Matlock over the weekend, so in his head he obviously wants to be at Matlock despite being offered more money by two other clubs.I’m obviously thrilled by the news which I hope fans will understand needed to be kept in- house, I don’t like everyone knowing all my moves, there’s no doubt in my mind he wants to be a Matlock Town player.”

Harcourt remaining a Gladiator feels like making a new signing and there’s been activity in this department with four new additions, three ahead of Tuesday night’s friendly win.

Probably the most notable one is the return of former Chesterfield winger Ben Algar, who featured in the 4-1 loss at Handsworth last weekend after being at Sheffield FC for two seasons.

“I’ve been watching Ben for a bit, but last season wasn’t the right time for us with having the three Sheffield United lads here. Ben’s a talented player who I reckon can do well for us” Hume added.

The other three are midfielder Josh Batty from Winterton Rangers who netted the second goal against Belper on Tuesday, and strikers Nathan Forbes-Swindells, once with Alfreton Town and more latterly with NCEL sides Parkgate and Staveley MW, plus Joel Purkiss, who has also been on trial at Northampton Town, the latter scoring at Handsworth and signing after the Belper victory.

Hume though, still has more recruiting to do. He says he is keen to sign the trialist who scored and impressed in the Belper win, and his search for a goalkeeper to replace Jon Kennedy goes on.

“I’ve been pursuing two or three options this week although one fell flat on its face which is disappointing, but these things happen. I’d have loved Jon Kennedy to stay, we got on great and he’s been a fantastic keeper for me at Matlock, but with his work, he was struggling to get to a lot of games last season and we have to respect his decision to go more local while wishing him well. We should have one in ready for the Sheffield United game at home on Tuesday” (Matlock’s next game, KO 7.30 PM).

Meanwhile the unexpected 4-1 reverse at Handsworth “could be the best thing that’s happened to us and give us a kick up the backside” added Hume.

“I don’t like losing but I got an awful lot out of it, I saw that certain people can’t play and fit in at the club and certain partnerships weren’t right, so it’s probably done us a huge favour.”

He was happier with the Belper performance adding that ‘it was a good reaction.”

“We were a lot tighter and more switched on and apart from one save Ryan (Pugh) didn’t have anything to do, so it was much better” Hume said.

The new league season kicks off on Saturday August 15 with Matlock making the relatively short trip to Frickley Athletic before welcoming newly promoted Salford City and then Whitby Town to the Autoworld Arena on Tuesday August 18 and Saturday August 22 respectively.

Their first derby is on August Bank Holiday Monday at home to Ilkeston FC with the return on Christmas Monday at the New Manor Ground. Boxing Day sees Matlock host Buxton and they will travel to the Silverlands on Easter Monday March 28.

Ian Richardson

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