Matlock Town skipper James Lukic reached another landmark on New Year’s Day by making his 600th appearance for the Gladiators in the 1-1 home derby draw with Buxton.
It represents an awesome achievement by Lukic who made his debut as a 16-year-old against Glossop North End in the Derbyshire Senior Cup in February 1998.
Now he is second in Matlock’s all time career records table, behind the Gladiators legend Mick Fenoughty who presented him with a momento from the club prior to kick off against the Bucks. Fenoughty made 672 Matlock appearances. Gladiators boss Mark Atkins said: “It’s a fantastic achievement, he’s been excellent since I’ve been here, Mr Consistency and has played when probably he shouldn’t have through injury to help me and the team, he’s been a real pleasure to manage.”
Chairman Tom Wright added: “It’s rare at any level to have a player with the tremendous loyalty shown by James and he thoroughly deserves every bit of praise he gets.
“In many ways he’s Mr Matlock Town, a person highly respected not only here at Matlock but throughout the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League and non league football in general.”
Lukic injured a groin in the 4-0 win at Rushall Olympic on Boxing Day but typically recovered after being rated doubtful to make his 599th appearance in Saturday’s 6-1 drubbing at Worksop before facing the Bucks.
It has been a mixed festive programme for Matlock, the Rushall win being the high point. Atkins was not completely happy with the Rushall performance in the first half, but after saying his side ‘bossed’ the second half, he and the Town fans were left shell shocked at Sandy Lane as the Gladiators were marooned at 5-0 down in the opening 25 minutes.
“We got what we deserved, we weren’t switched on in those opening 20-odd minutes,” added Atkins, who had his squad in for training on Sunday morning.
“It wasn’t a punishment but we needed to sort things out, to let people get things off their chests and it was worthwhile.”
Midfielder Glyn Cotton appears to be on his way out of Matlock after only joining the Gladiators from Frickley in September.
Cotton was withdrawn at half time at Worksop and told Atkins he wanted to leave over the weekend. He was not selected against Buxton.
Atkins said: “He wants to go elsewhere. I told him he had to come, however, his attitude wasn’t the best and he drove off before the game started after not being named in the team.”
Atkins has two seven day approaches in for players and hopes to have clearance to speak to one of them this week.