Gladiators Bosses Not Letting Grass Grow Under Their Feet

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Matlock Town joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins have not let the grass grow under their feet as work has already started on preparing for the 2017/18 Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division campaign.

The 2016/17 season saw Matlock narrowly miss out on a play-off spot by finishing ninth in the NPL Premier Division table, but outstanding results in the knockout competitions saw the Gladiators earn £30.000 in prize money from the FA competitions.

They made it through to the final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup before bowing out at Altrincham, while superb away victories came at FC Halifax Town and Solihull Moors in a thrilling Buildbase FA Trophy run which ended with a narrow 3-2 defeat at National League high-flyers Barrow AFC in a match where Matlock led 2-0 with half an hour to go.

Hopkins and Kirkwood remarked at last Friday night’s presentation night that their squad of players from 2016/17 is “the best set of lads they have ever managed”, so they are obviously keen to keep them at the DCJ Group Arena next term.

“We’ve spoken to the players and we’ve had a positive reaction with regard to next season” said Hopkins. “Obviously, Marcus Dinanga will go back to Burton Albion with our very best wishes as he’s been tremendous for us. But we’ve also got cracking with player recruitment and have already spoken to twelve or so for next year so we’re prepared in the event that we do lose anyone. When pre-season gets under way on the last Saturday in June we looking to have about twenty players at that point.”

The joint bosses have also been busy trying to formulate their pre-season friendly schedule.

“We’re hoping we’ve got fixed up with matches against three Football League clubs and we’re hoping that games follow against two more,” Hopkins added.

It’s a busy time off the pitch also as the DCJ Group Arena pitch has had dead grass and thatch removed before fertilising and re-seeding work got under way.

The six floodlight pylons which had been in place since 1970 before one was demolished by `Storm Doris` in February have been removed ahead of four new pylons being installed in time for the new campaign.

Working parties are now at the ground every Tuesday evening as supporters help out with maintenance work on the ground during the summer break.

(Ian Richardson)

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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