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Weekly News - 27/5/20

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Weekly News - 27/5/20

Matlock boss Paul Phillips says he is casting his net out far and wide for his 2020/21 playing squad as he looks to improve on bottom half finishes in recent seasons.

Phillips, based on the outskirts of Manchester, is the first manager Matlock have employed from this area. Previous incumbent Steve Kittrick was from Barnsley and before that Dave Frecklington lived in Lincoln following Dave Hoole and before that joint bosses Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood who were all Chesterfield based.

“I’m casting the net out far and wide, obviously we have the link with Denton up here in Manchester and the local one with Wirksworth Ivanhoe in the Matlock area. But the bottom line is that I want a pool of players to improve us and get us out of this league, whether they be from Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester or wherever. So yes we’ll be fishing in a different pond to those of before, there’s a lot of places we can tap into within a one hour radius.”

With the Covid-19 restrictions slowly being eased, Phillips is itching to get started again, but in that impatience there is frustration.

“Normally we’d be about four weeks away from starting pre-season but nobody knows when we can return to playing in non league, so it’s a matter of being careful and trying to get the timing right. It could be say October before the league gets under way for example, so while we want to be up and ready and raring to go, we’ve got to ensure all the timings are right so people aren’t burned out before the season begins! Let’s face it everyone wants things to get back to normality, players want to be back training and playing again, fans want football games to watch.”

With some clubs announcing signings, Phillips reassured Gladiators fans that plenty of hard work is going on in terms of player recruitment for next season.

“I don’t think it’s wise clubs announcing signings just yet as they can’t be ratified by the authorities and at present nobody knows when the season is to start so how can contracts be drawn up? We’ve been doing our work and have provisionally agreed terms with some players but we’re keeping everything close to our chests for now.”

With Matlock scoring only 36 goals in their 28 league games of a truncated 2019/20 season, it is easy to see where Phillips’ recruitment priority lies.

“We need to improve our goalscoring record, we need scorers and people who can create so the forward line is an important area for us. We’re going to bring people in but it’s also hard to let people go as nobody knows what’s happening. How can wages be offered and promised when for all we know,

games could take place behind closed doors or it could be a long while before we actually get going? I’m asking for the fans to be patient, but I believe there’ll be a fair bit activity in the next week or two.”

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Matlock captain Adam Yates should be able to celebrate his 500th Gladiators first team appearance in the second league game of the 2020/21 season if everything goes to plan.

With the 2019/20 campaign being declared null and void, it was feared that his 32 appearances would be scratched from his playing record, as would usually be the case when results are expunged.

But given the number of games involved, the Gladiators have decided Yates’ league and cup appearances for the club will count.

“There isn’t a clear rule within this but we discussed the matter and in the circumstances, the games Adam played in during the 2019/20 season will be taken into account and his 500th Matlock appearance will be in the second game he plays during the forthcoming season,” said a Matlock spokesman.

Yates has become a firm fans favourite at the Proctor Cars Stadium. His Matlock debut came in a 2-1 home win over FC United of Manchester in March 2009, after being signed by Mark Atkins who was impressed by his performance in a Derbyshire Senior Cup semi final against Shirebrook Town a few weeks earlier.

Now after eleven years with the Gladiators, Yates is desperate for Matlock to challenge near the top end of the league and he remembers the impact that former Premiership title winner Atkins had on him.

“I’m a step closer to the 500 mark but I’d like to cap it with some success, especially in the league” said Yates.

“We’ve had some good results in cup games during my time with the club but we’ve not done so well in the league so it would be amazing to get into the play-offs. I won’t lie, I never thought I’d reach this landmark when I made my debut against FC United. Atko (Atkins) was brilliant with me, he had trust in me and I played in a lot of games for him, I learned so much from him and I can’t thank him enough.”

Whenever that 500th game comes around given the current health crisis, Yates is sure to receive a marvellous ovation from the Matlock supporters.

Ian Richardson