the npl

RIP John 'Shep' Sheppard

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Matlock Town have announced the sad passing of their former midfielder John Sheppard at the age of 61.

Sheppard was a dynamic attacking midfielder who became a fans favourite at Causeway lane in the late 1980’s making 370 starts for the Gladiators plus nineteen substitute appearances,

He was brought to the club by Ernie Oliver who was managing Matlock at the time and the news about “Shep” as he was affectionately known, is the second bit of bad news this month following the recent passing of Oliver.

Remarkably for a midfielder, Shep had a great goalscoring record hitting 128 goals for the Gladiators, being a key member of the team which reached the First Round Proper of the FA Cup in 1989/90 when the Gladiators were beaten 4-1 at Scunthorpe United.

Possibly his most memorable moment in Matlock colours came in the home fourth qualifying round tie with Enfield three weeks earlier when he hit a thunderbolt from easily 35 yards out which made the Town End net bulge and put the Gladiators 2-1 up in the match which saw Matlock beat the Conference side 3-1.

Matlock’s Press Officer Ian Richardson remembers Shep fondly.

“ I remember Ernie bringing Shep to the club, I think he was at Sheffield or playing locally in the Sheffield area, Ernie was brilliant at spotting talented players and he said when we signed him we had a top player and so it proved. He always gave one hundred per cent on the pitch, he was a great passer of the ball but complimented that with a determination to win and work tremendously hard for the team. Fans will remember most some of the great goals he scored, to get roughly one in every three games was fantastic and I can’t recall a Matlock player who hit the ball harder than Shep. He was also a great guy off the field. He always had time for the fans and he was a great ambassador for Matlock Town Football Club. Our thoughts are with John’s wife Claire, his family and friends at this sad time.”

The Gladiators players will wear black armbands in their final match of the league season at Marine on Saturday as a mark of respect.

Ian Richardson