Matlock bosses begin preparations for 2017/18

Matlock Town manager, Craig Hopkins.
Matlock Town manager, Craig Hopkins.

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 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 knock out 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 FA Cup before bowing out at Altrincham while superb away victories came at FC Halifax and Solihull Moors in a thrilling FA Trophy run which ended with a narrow 3-2 defeat at National League high-fliers Barrow 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 12 or so for next year so we’re prepared in the event that we do lose anyone.

“When pre-season gets underway on the last Saturday in June we’re looking to have about 20 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 league clubs and we’re hoping that games follow against two more,” Hopkins added.

Hopkins was asked to look back briefly on the campaign by answering a number of questions as listed below.

Best Matlock performance/high point: “Solihull and Halifax away in the Trophy which were both brilliant performances away against higher opposition.”

Low point: “The final whistle at Buxton when we realised we couldn’t get in the play-offs but having played really well in the game and not deserving to lose.”

Best Opposing Player: “The two Spennymoor forwards (Graeme Armstrong and Glen Taylor) in the match at our ground who were both top class and never gave our defenders a moment’s rest.”

Best Team Faced: “In the league again it had to be Spennymoor at our place.”

League’s Overachievers: “Without doubt Adam Stevens did a magnificent job at Grantham as did Chris Hardy with Whitby.”

League’s Underachievers: “I’d have to go for Corby Town who would be really disappointed at going down given the resources available to them and the crowds they have been able to attract. They’ve now got two good lads in charge who me and Kirky know really well and I’d expect them to bounce back next season.”

Meanwhile, it’s a busy time off the field 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.