Weekly News - 27/6/22
Matlock boss Paul Phillips says his Matlock squad will be expected to do well this year after last season’s efforts which saw them finish fourth in the NPL Premier Division table to qualify for the play-offs.
Their promotion hopes were eventually dashed as Scarborough Athletic beat them in the play-off semi final, but the Gladiators will this year be one of the fancied sides in the division.
“Inside our dressing room the expectation last year was to do well and we couldn’t just get over the line in terms of promotion. It’s the same this season, everyone in the camp wants to do well and they’ll be expecting to do well. Now other teams will take us more seriously as it was perhaps a surprise for them to see us up there at the top after struggling in previous seasons. Our fans will expect more from us also. “
But Phillips pointed out that this season is likely to be equally if more difficult than the 2021/22 campaign.
“South Shields will be there again with a big budget behind them and Warrington Rylands have now come into it plus Liversedge, so while last season there was only Buxton with the big budget with South Shields, there’s more teams paying out big money and push on.”
Phillips says Matlock’s aim is the same as last season, to gain promotion.
“We’ll work hard and try to ensure we do things right ourselves. The lads have had some good sessions at the British Taekwando Association before we step things up on 2 July. These days players tend to look after themselves better, even the older players who go to the gym and generally keep themselves fit. We’ll have some training sessions that will be a case of polishing up on what they’ve done but we’ve got friendlies lined up which is better for them as we work towards the start of the season.”
Phillips is anticipating to be able to add to his squad shortly, with three players who have been part of their get togethers so far expected to sign for the forthcoming season.
"Come on down and have some fun” is the message from organiser Vikki Shipp ahead of Matlock Town’s Fun Day at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday (July 2).
In recent times Matlock have emphasised the community element in their activities, with crowds rising as the team on the field of play has experienced better results.
Vikki, a regular supporter at both home and away matches, wants people to come together on Saturday to enjoy an event which has free admission and lasts between 11 am and 3 pm.
“There’s something for everyone, penalty shoot-outs, bouncy castle, childrens’ mascots, inflatable sumo wrestling, a Treasure Hunt, barbeque, games for both children and adults, a cake stall, ice cream and lots more” said Vikki. “There’ll also be Matlock Town merchandise on sale.”
“We want our fans and the general public to come down and support what should be a fantastic family event. All proceeds will go towards supporting the club and also bringing the community and the juniors together in a safe environment. I’d like to thank everyone who has sponsored the event so far, and If anyone out there feels that they can sponsor the junior supporters in any way, please contact me on 07875 297134.”
Chesterfield are regular visitors to the picturesque ground at Matlock for pre season matches , in fact the Gladiators have hosted the Spireites thirty eight times since Chesterfield’s first visit back in 1966.
But none of these 38 visits have been on a Saturday and you have to go way back to 12 March 1898 for the last time Chesterfield played at Matlock on a Saturday.
The fixture to be played at the Proctor Cars Stadium on Saturday 16 July has taken some organising, particularly fitting in with Chesterfield’s availability, Matlock’s already arranged pre season games and most importantly, the availability of the Proctor Cars Stadium pitch.
Cricket is the order of the day at weekends during the summer, thus explaining why there have been very rare Saturday home pre season frienlies for Matlock over the years.
But this time a Saturday slot has been found for what is generally regarded as Matlock’s most lucrative pre season game, thanks in no small measure to the co-operation from Matlock and Cromford Meadows Cricket Club who now have three teams .in competitive action on a Saturday.
Steve Haslam, from the cricket club takes up the story.
“We were contacted by Keith Brown (Matlock Town FC Chief Executive) who asked if it would be possible to change a fixture so late. Knowing how financially important such a game is, Matlock and Cromford Meadows Cricket Club stared looking at possibilities. Once any season has begun, fixtures may only be changed for a valid reason(in this instance we asked our league to consider the financial implications). Any change must also be agreed with our opponents so there were two options.One was asking our opponents Clowne Town to move the game to a Sunday at Causeway Lane or alternatively ask Clowne Town to move a fixture from Cromford Meadows to Causeway Lane, bringing it forward and then take our scheduled league game at Causeway Lane to play on the same day as Matlock v Chesterfield, but at Cromford, We felt this was more likely to find favour. Clowne Town agreed to the move and thus we were able to inform Keith that the Matlock v Chesterfield game could go ahead.”
Co-operation between a number of bodies has been key to ensuring that the Gladiators get a good pay-day from the always popular match between the Gladiators and the Spireites.
“The cricket club has a healthy relationship with the football club, and we will always help where we can” continued Mr Haslam.
“But this was pretty tricky because the decision didn’t rest solely with ourselves. Both Clowne Town and the Derbyshire Cricket League deserve a pat on the back too for helping make the Chesterfield game happen on a Saturday at not much more than a month’s notice.”
Arranging the fixture has proved to be a major headache for Keith Brown and the Football Club.
“There’s lots of things to consider. Firstly we have to fit in with the schedules of the higher placed clubs that come to visit us in pre-season. Once you have the date or dates they’re available , we have to check what’s on at our ground and obviously we can’t play if there’s cricket on. When Chesterfield said July 16 was their only available date, we had a lot of work and some favours to ask to get the game on. We simply couldn’t afford to lose the match for it attracts a huge crowd and then there’s the spin-offs such as programme sales and the extra revenue from both our refreshment bars and our Social Club. It’s also a game that our supporters and those from Chesterfield look forward to every year.”
Mr Brown says the football and cricket clubs have always maintained a close relationship over the years and it was the desire from officials of both sides that eventually led to the game being given the green light.
“We contacted the cricket club and explained the situation we found ourselves in and they were extremely sympathetic. The Cricket Club said they would do everything in their power to help but we knew the decision wasn’t just down to them, we needed the blessing of their opponents and of their league to get the game on. Thankfully everything turned out alright in the end but we’re very grateful to Steve Haslam and the Matlock and Cromford Meadows Cricket Club for their great assistance in ensuring that this popular game could take place this year.”
The Gladiators and the Spireites will be playing for the Ernie Moss Challenge Cup for the first time and with a lot of people playing their part to ensure the game goes ahead, everyone’s hoping that the weather will be kind on the day.
We’re now hoping for a nice day, and looking forward to welcoming Chesterfield manager Paul Cook, the players and officials from Chesterfield plus their magnificent supporters for what promises to be a great afternoon’s football.”
The Chesterfield game follows a visit from a strong Mansfield Town team on Tuesday 12 July (7.45 pm).