Popular striker Holmes returns

Ian Holmes at Matlock Town
Ian Holmes at Matlock Town

Matlock Town’s first two signings of the summer are an old fans’ favourite and an up-and-coming utility player.

The 25-year-old striker Ian Holmes has returned to Causeway Lane after nearly four years away. He is joined by his former Glapwell teammate Michael Harcourt, 22.

The capture of Holmes is significant given the fact that Ross Hannah finally achieved his boyhood dream of earning a full-time professional contract at Bradford City last month and a replacement goalscorer is needed.

Holmes hit 34 goals for Matlock in the 2006-07 season before joining Mansfield Town, and after spells at AFC Telford (loan) and then being part of the Eastwood Town squad which won the Northern Premier League, now Evo-Stik League, in 2008-09, Holmes netted 33 times in 52 appearances last season for Glapwell, to earn the Evo-Stik First Division Golden Boot Award.

Matlock boss Mark Atkins explained: “Ian’s a replacement for Ross’s position, a centre forward, and we’ve been looking to bring one in. He’ll not be put under any pressure to get 52 goals, but he’s been brought in to score goals.

“He’s got a good scoring record. I tried to get him twice last season but our finances wouldn’t allow it.

“We’ve got him now though and we’re very pleased that he’s decided to join us.

“The goalscoring though won’t just be down to Ian – other players have got to chip in with a decent amount as well.

“I think Ian is capable of 25 and it’d be nice if he could get more.”

Having been in the same Blackburn Rovers side as the prolific Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton which won the Premier League back in 1994-95, Atkins appreciates the qualities needed to be successful in front of goal.

“The main thing Ian does is score goals. He did it here at Matlock and then at Eastwood and Glapwell, but he also holds the ball up well and has good movement.

“He’s also very eager to get going, so he’s the ideal person to bring in as our first signing of the new season.”

Atkins is equally delighted with the capture of Harcourt.

After being released by Alfreton Town, Harcourt joined Belper Town and was on the losing side in the 2010 Derbyshire Senior Cup Final against Matlock.

But there was some personal revenge for Harcourt as his new club Glapwell knocked Matlock out of last season’s competition.

And, as Atkins explains, it was Harcourt’s performance on that cold December night that ignited his interest in him.

“He had a very good game against us and I’ve kept tabs on him since. As with Ian Holmes, there were a lot of clubs after him but we’ve shown him our ground and facilities and he’s decided to come here and again I’m delighted.

“He’s one for the future, athletic and a good passer of the ball and is quite capable of going on to greater things, hopefully with us.

He can play anywhere in the back four, but he’s also played to good effect in attack and in midfield so being able to fill a number of positions is good with a small squad.”

Glapwell’s unfortunate resignation from the Evo-Stik League due to ground problems with the local Parish Council has probably played its part in Holmes and Harcourt’s moves to Matlock as Glapwell have told their entire playing staff that they were free to seek new clubs.

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Glapwell will play in the Central Midlands League next term.

Atkins looks set to further bolster his squad in the coming weeks.

“I’ve done deals with two other players who’ll be non contract, so we’re keeping their identities under wraps for now, but they’re experienced at this level and that’s something I feel we’ve missed since I’ve been here” Atkins concluded.

Matlock have confirmed another friendly fixture ahead of the new season as neighbours and Blue Square Premier new boys Alfreton Town visit the Reynolds Stadium on Wednesday August 3 (k.0 7.45 pm).