the npl

Weekly News - 24.5.22

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Weekly News - 24.5.22

Matlock Town’s first signing of the summer, striker Aaron Opoku is chomping at the bit to get cracking on the new challenge that awaits him at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

26 years old Opoku netted fourteen goals in the NPL Midland Division for a Carlton side who narrowly missed out on a place in the end of season play-offs. He was Carlton’s joint leading scorer alongside Nathan Watson.

“Can’t wait to get started” Opoku tweeted as he looked forward to NPL Premier Division football with the Gladiators.

As one fan pointed out on the club’s social media outlets, those fourteen goals would have seen Matlock promoted come the end of last term.

Opoku is the first Ghanian national to play for Matlock but not the first from the African continent with Pietu Cruz (Cameroon), Chib Chilaka (Nigeria) and current fans favourite Jesurun Uchegbulam (Nigeria) all having worn Matlock colours in recent years.

Carlton boss Tommy Brookbanks tweeted “Go smash it Azza” while a tweet from Carlton fans added “Best of luck to Aaron at Matlock. You’ve got yourselves a very fine player indeed.”

Stamford boss Graham Drury summed up Matlock’s new signing in two words, “greast signing.”

Matlock chief Paul Phillips is on holiday abroad, obviously happy to have secured his first addition of the summer beforehand. He is keen to recruit further but knows that major surgery is not required to a squad which finished in fourth spot last season.

“I’m hoping to get a couple more done when I return from holiday and we’re waiting for all of the play off games to be completed so we can see who else becomes available. I’ve made one or two offers to players, but patience is the key at the moment, it’s a waiting game. I’ve invited everyone back who was with us at the end of the season.”

Marcus Marshall, who made a second return to Matlock in January before moving to AFC Telford towards the end of the campaign has since signed for Mickleover Sports.

But Marshall won’t be facing the Gladiators this season as Mickleover and Basford United have been transferred to the Southern League Central. While Ilkeston Town, champions of the NPL Midlands Division, will also be in the Southern League Central.

And with Buxton being promoted to National League North, Matlock will be short of derby games this coming season with Belper Town who won promotion via the play-offs, being the only other Derbyshire side in the NPL Premier Division.

Guiseley, relegated from National Leasgue North, return to the NPL after a twelve years break in the National League Premier and National League North, while five clubs come up from the NPL Lower leagues.

Joining Belper in the top tier are East Division champions Liversedge who have former Gladiator Spencer Harris in their ranks, and East Division play-off winners Marske United. Matlock met the Cleveland based club in the FA Trophy last season, winning a thriller by 3-2 at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

West Division champions Warrington Rylands have three former Gladiators in their squad, defenders Dec Walker and Sam Egerton plus striker Callum Dolan. They are joined by Marine, a familiar name to Matlock supporters. The Crosby side were relegated three years ago but have since had a memorable FA Cup run which culminated in a visit from Tottenham Hotspur in the Third Round in January 2021 in front of the BBC TV cameras.

Any fans who have some spare time during the summer can help in sprucing up the Proctor Cars Stadium ahead of the new season.

Gladiators Safety Officer Stewart Else said all fans will be made most welcome.

“The working parties will be on a Tuesday night at 7 pm and we'd really appreciate any help people can offer us in doing some important jobs on the ground” said Else.

Matlock’s Annual Golf Day is at Matlock Golf Club on Friday 24 June.

“It’s always a highly enjoyable day and it’s become firmly fixed in our calendar” said Commercial Manager Tom Wright.

“We’re inviting teams of four to take part, there’s a mixture of former and current players expected to take part so it’s an opportunity for a chat and to reminisce plus have a round of golf on a lovely course.”

Tom can be contacted on 07850 065968 or by e mail

Ian Richardson