Loyal Lukic is the fans’ choice

Winners Kris Witcombe, James Lukic, Jon Kennedy, Ian Holmes and Micky Harcourt at the Matlock Town end of season event, April 27, 2012.
Winners Kris Witcombe, James Lukic, Jon Kennedy, Ian Holmes and Micky Harcourt at the Matlock Town end of season event, April 27, 2012.

Matlock Town skipper James Lukic collected the Matlock Mercury-sponsored Supporters’ Player of the Year award and acknowledged that the Gladiators had not performed as well as everyone had hoped.

Editor Amanda Hatfield presented the 30-year-old centre half with his fourth fans’ award before a packed audience in the Matlock Town Social Club last Friday night.

Lukic is surely one of the most popular players to wear the Matlock colours, having made his first team debut aged just 16 in February 1998.

Apart from a season at Gainsborough Trinity in 2008-09, he has remained a Gladiator and next season he should make his 600th appearance for the club.

“I’m obviously delighted to win this award and I’d like to thank the fans who have supported me and the club all through the season,” said Lukic.

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He added: “We haven’t done as well this season as we all would have hoped so we’ll be all out to do better next season.”

The presentation ceremony began with another Matlock legend, former striker Ross Hannah, presenting a blue and a yellow signed number ten shirts to the club, which had been bought in an auction by Gladiators’ supporter Brian Startin.

“Someone from Belper was leading the bidding but these shirts belong here, I just couldn’t allow them to go away from Matlock, so they’ll remain here in our Social Club for all of our fans to see,” said Mr Startin.

Hannah, a regular visitor to the Reynolds Stadium with his family, said he would always have fond memories of his three-year spell with Matlock when he himself was named as fans’ player of the year and won the Steven Greenhough Goalscorer award in each season before moving to Bradford City last summer.

“I’ll never forget my time here and what Matlock Town did for me. It’s a fabulous club and I’m sure the lads will have a better time next season.”

Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy, signed from Worksop Town, had the honour of being named Players’ Player after a series of outstanding displays in his first season while another player in his first season, Micky Harcourt, collected the Young Player award.

Clubman of the Year is Kris Witcombe, regularly an unused substitute, sometimes not even making the squad, but there ready for action week in, week out, the type of player every club needs.

When called upon, the former Cinderford Town man, who asked to join Matlock on moving north, has always given 100 per cent and never looks out of place.

Some familiar names look like featuring on the Gladiators’ fixture list next term. Blyth Spartans and Eastwood Town have been relegated from Blue Square North, while promoted from the two First Divisions are Witton Albion, Grantham Town and Ilkeston FC. New opposition for Matlock will be AFC Fylde.

The Premier Division play-off final this weekend sees Bradford Park Avenue host FC United of Manchester. Avenue thrashed Hednesford 5-0 in last Saturday’s semi-final while, in the other tie, United were 2-0 winners at Chorley.