the npl

Weekly News | 10.5.22

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Weekly News | 10.5.22

Centre half Ryan Qualter was crowned as the Matlock Town FC Fans player of the season at the Gladiators’ Annual Awards Night held in the Shorts Lounge last Friday.

The popular number five, who joined the Gladiators from local National League North rivals Alfreton Town during the summer of 2020 and for good measure he was also voted as the club’s top player by his team mates.

Understandably the fans’ vote met with a good response given Matlock’s higher crowds during the season brought about by a largely successful campaign which saw them finish in 4th spot and beaten play-off semi finalists. Several players were nominated but when the votes were totted up, Qualter emerged as the clear winner of the Reynolds Sydnope sponsored trophy. Qualter was also presented with a £400 watch by club legend Adam Yates, the prize for being players’ player kindly donated by C W Sellors Jewellers.

The awards ceremony followed a first set of songs from vocalist Danny Graves, a buffet and an auction of sports memorabilia. Captain Liam Hughes and Al Byrne got the ceremony started with a brief speech with the skipper staying on stage to present retiring Chairman Bryn Apperley and his wife Julia with a tankard and bouquet of flowers respectively.

Byrne collected the Steven Greenhough Top Goalscorer award, finding the target thirteen times for Matlock and then it was time for Jed Doxey to arrive on stage and for Bryn Apperley to present him with the Club Person Of the Year award for his outstanding work on the ground.

Reece Kendall was named as the club’s young player of the season, scoring eight times from left wing back.

Manager Paul Phillips’ award went to midfielder Mark Lees who has been an ever present in the Town midfield during the season, a lot of his work not being noticed, but he would undoubtedly be missed if he wasn’t there.

There was fighting talk from Phillips as he addressed the fans.

“First and foremost, massive disappointment at this football club for what we haven’t achieved. These players in front of you have done absolutely wonderful things, we aren’t little Matlock anymore that turns up, gets our belly tickled and walks away, we’re now league contenders and next year a lot of people will be tipping us to win this league, get out of the league and you know what, that’s down to the players here. We’ve got to live up to those expectations and we will do, trust me, there’s a lot of disappointment in this camp, there’s a lot of people who feel they’ve got points to prove including myself. But let’s enjoy what we’ve done, we’ve come a long way in a short space of time and I really appreciate all your support. I want to thank Bryn the Chairman and his family for what they’ve done for this football club, it will never be surpassed.”

A packed audience though cheered when Bryn Apperley announced Qualter as the supporters top player. Fans had been asked to state the reason for their choice.

“The best centre half in the league, always gives 100 %, true gentleman on and off the pitch” said Diane Phillips.

“Quality Qualter” said Jack Critchlow, while Dean Johnson commented “An absolute rock in our defence who without him, we would have conceded so many more goals resulting in losses and we’d never had reached the play-offs.”

After the presentations, Osebi Abadaki took to the microphone to perform a song he had written and released himself before Danny Graves’ second spot concluded a great night with fans and players mixing together, particularly when the club’s unofficial song, Sweet Caroline was sung by Danny.

“That’s probably the best Awards Night we’ve had in a long, long time and I hope all those who came enjoyed themselves” said a Matlock spokesman.

“It was great to see the Shorts Lounge packed and also to see so many youngsters there, credit to our team who interacted with them and made it a memorable night.”

Speaking in midweek, Phillips himself echoed these sentiments.

“It was a great night with a lot of people there, you could only imagine what the turnout would have been if we’d won something. All of the players were taken aback by the level of support on the night and you could see how much the club means to everyone, players, management and fans alike.”

News might be thin on the ground now the football has finished for another season at the Proctor Cars Stadium but there is much going on behind the scenes.

On the pitch a new drain has been laid to improve the playing surface and soon various jobs will be undertaken around the ground ahead of the upcoming season.

Manager Paul Phillips has spoken to his squad from last term.

“I’ve invited around eighty per cent of them back for pre-season. As I’ve said previously, we don’t need to make wholesale changes for we’re not a million miles away. We know the areas we need to improve on and we’re working hard to bring the right players in.”

Phillips is also on the lookout for a new physio following the departure of Sarah Roberts.

“We’re looking for somebody suitably qualified with experience in football who’s fully committed and able to dedicate the time required at training and at games. Anyone interested can contact me direct on 07710 510720.”

Ian Richardson