Atkins: ‘It was time for me to go’

Mark Atkins watches on during the 4-0 defeat to Halesowen on Saturday, which was to be his last game in charge. Photo by Dan Westwell.
Mark Atkins watches on during the 4-0 defeat to Halesowen on Saturday, which was to be his last game in charge. Photo by Dan Westwell.

Mark Atkins has said he felt the time was right to call it a day after resigning as manager of Matlock Town on Saturday.

Atkins and his assistant Nick Buxton left the club following Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Halesowen Town, a result that left the Gladiators second from bottom and four points from safety in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Matlock have won just once this season and are the division’s joint lowest scorers with only nine goals from their opening 11 games.

“Results haven’t been good enough and I think it’s best for the club and myself that I resign and leave the club,” said a disappointed Atkins.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here, it’s been my first managerial position, I’ve tried my hardest but it’s not a nice feeling getting beaten regularly and I feel I now need a fresh challenge.

“Once the injuries clear up I’m sure these lads are capable of finishing mid-table at least, they’ll get out of trouble, they probably just need a fresh voice to guide them.”

Atkins was appointed in November 2008 when he succeeded joint managers Phil Brown and Gareth Williams who had been sacked the month before. He managed to stave off a relegation threat in his first season and guided them to the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final where they were unlucky losers to Buxton at Chesterfield’s old Saltergate ground.

But they had better luck the following season when they overcame Belper Town in the final at Pride Park. In 2010/11 they looked set for a play-off place until a late dip in form saw them slide to 11th spot and in subsequent campaigns Matlock have been a lower mid-table side.

In 2012/13 they reached the second round proper of the FA Trophy after wins against Conference North Stalybridge Celtic and more noteably Mansfield Town who would go on to win the Conference Premier and earn promotion to the Football League at the end of the season.

Only a last minute Luton Town goal stopped them from earning a replay at Kenilworth Road.

The 46-year-old says that Matlock will always hold a special place in his heart.

“This is a great club with a lot of people working very hard behind the scenes and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for all the help they’ve given me while I’ve been at the club.

“But it’s time for me to go and I’m sure they’ll get out of trouble.”

Meanwhile Chairman Tom Wright paid tribute to the departing Atkins.

He said: “I personally, and I know a lot of the other club officials, had a great relationship with Mark and it’s very sad the way things have turned out.

“He always worked extremely hard, in fact he worked tirelessly for the club and was Matlock Town through and through.

“He was also a great ambassador for the club. Unfortunately these things happen in football but we separate on excellent terms, and we wish him all the very best wherever he goes. He knows he is welcome to come back and see us at Matlock anytime.”

Matlock Town have confirmed that current physio Dave Rushbury and coach Martin Foster will be looking after team affairs until a new manager is appointed to replace Atkins.

Rushbury has previously managed both Chesterfield and Alfreton Town and arrived at the Autoworld Arena this summer, replacing former long-serving physio Mick Cunningham.

Foster joined the Gladiators two years ago after a long and distinguished playing career including spells at Oxford United, Forest Green Rovers and Halifax and is still registered as a player for the Gladiators.

The Gladiators’ immediate aim is to stop the rot which has seen them beaten in their last three Evo_Stik NPL Premier Division matches and climb away from their precarious second bottom position. They travel to Grantham Town on Tuesday night and to Witton Albion this weekend.