Action may still be paused on the pitch for Step 3 and below in non-league football but Matlock Town have kept themselves busy this week with the announcement of not one but two new signings.

On Wednesday, the Gladiators confirmed that they had signed 27 year-old midfielder Craig Carney from Warrington Town. That wasn’t the end for transfer business though and on Saturday Matlock Town confirmed the rumours that former Gladiator Ross Hannah was re-joining the Derbyshire outfit almost ten years after he last played for the club.

The return of Ross Hannah to the Proctor Cars Stadium is a surprise move from Gladiators boss Paul Phillips but one that has been welcomed by Matlock Town’s players and fans alike. Hannah has been signed from Cleethorpes Town and the 34 year-old is held in very high regard by everyone associated with Matlock Town. The Sheffield-born striker scored a vast amount of goals during his first stint with the Gladiators between 2008 and 2011. Hannah’s most famous season for Matlock was the 2010-2011 campaign where he scored a staggering 52 goals in all competitions. This earnt him a move to Bradford City. Hannah also won Matlock’s player of the year award for every season he played in between 2008 and 2011. Before joining Cleethorpes Town earlier this year, Hannah had a brief stint as Gainsborough Trinity’s manager before being replaced by Curtis Woodhouse.

A lot has obviously happened since the last time Hannah wore a Gladiators shirt but it will be fascinating to see how he gets on at Matlock during a different stage of his playing career and how well he will link up with skipper Liam Hughes in the final third of the pitch.

Craig Carney on the other hand has been added by Paul Phillips to bolster Matlock’s midfield options. Carney has been playing for Warrington Town this season but has also played for FC United of Manchester, Lancaster City, Bamber Bridge and Marine earlier in his career. The 27 year-old has a lot of experience at this level of non-league football and Derbyshire Media Company were able to have a quick chat with Craig earlier this week to get more insight about his move to the Gladiators:

What attracted you to Matlock Town and how did Paul Phillips sell the club to you?

“The squad Phillo has assembled and his plans to drive the club forward were big selling points and also knowing what the manager’s previous teams were about.”

For any fan who has not heard of you, how would you describe your style of play – what are your main strengths and what will you bring to the team?

“I’m energetic and like to get about the pitch and chip in with assists and goals. I have played a lot of games so I am experienced and have a good understanding of playing in different positions.”

You have plenty of NPL experience. Is this the most competitive NPL season there has ever been?

“Up to now it’s proving to be very close so far and as we’ve seen with teams form and results, any team can beat anyone on their day. I think this will carry on throughout the course of the season and will go right down to the wire for the championship and play-off spots with a lot of teams fancying their chances.”

How tough have you found it having to pause playing again due to lockdown?

“It is a big inconvenience as you lose the momentum you have built up and in Matlock’s case you probably didn’t want that break to come with the form they were in but with other clubs the break’s probably come at a good time. On an individual level, you just have to do your bit away from the two nights a week training we would usually be doing with whatever resources or equipment you can call upon and make sure you come back in the best shape you can.”

What are your ambitions with Matlock Town?

“Ultimately to finish as high as we can but I think it’s important to focus on the next game and the here and now as nobody knows what’s round the corner with all the disruption we’ve had.”

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