NEWS: Gladiators in triple transfer spree

NPL Premier Division outfit Matlock Town have announced three new signings to bring their summer tally of new players up to eight.

In a busy day at the Proctor Cars Stadium, the Gladiators announced the signings of Liam Hughes from Frickley Athletic, Sam Egerton from Trafford and Declan Walker from Stalybridge Celtic.

These players join new faces Callum Dolan, Callum Chippendale, Kayde Coppin, Sefton Gonzales and Reece Kendall in what’s shaping up to be a complete rebuild of Matlock Town’s squad.

Liam Hughes started his career with a long spell in the Football League at Cambridge United before moving to the Scottish Premier League to play for Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Unfortunately, the 27 year old forward from Rotherham has had to deal with some off the field mental health issues in the past and Hughes has spent the rest of his career in English non-league football. Within the past twelve months, Hughes played for Bradford Park Avenue before switching to Frickley Athletic.

Hughes spoke in detail about how Gladiators manager Paul Phillips sold Matlock Town to him at this stage of his career and what attracted him to the club.

He said: “I’m 27 now and I’ve made it quite public about my past and the things that I’ve been through. I’ve played at a relatively high level and achieved quite a lot in my career and I kind of took a step back from football. I started playing at lower leagues and tried to get my head right and myself right and when Paul and Dave (Matlock Town’s assistant manager) came knocking on my door and spoke to me about the club and what they want to achieve – it was kind of a no-brainer.

"It matches with my ambitions and what I hope to achieve and so I’m looking to do that now with Matlock. Paul Phillips and Dave Wild firmly believe in their own philosophies and they want players who are going to join in with that ambition and drag Matlock back to where they want to be. It’s a good club with a good history and a good fan base. It’s about getting the right players to push on who are hungry to move onto that next level.

“I cannot speak highly enough of Paul Phillips and Dave Wild. One of the biggest things that attracted me was their desire and passion for the game…the one thing you can guarantee from them both is that they demand nothing but high standards…this could be a special year for Matlock.”

Hughes spoke enthusiastically about the standards set and the work ethic displayed already in Matlock Town’s first few training sessions ahead of the 2020/21 campaign:

“We’ve got some experienced lads and some young, hungry lads and it’s an exciting combination. You could see the will to win and that passion and desire in those first few training sessions," Hughes commented.

This matches with what Paul and Dave are like and this is what makes us a really good unit…I think we may have even surpassed what Paul and Dave was expecting of us so far."

Hughes has also stated how important this move is for him at this stage of his career and how key stability is to him right now.

“That word stability is what every player strives for in their career. Ultimately, I’ve come here to be successful. I want us to get promoted. I want to have another promotion on my CV. I want to go as far as I can with Matlock. I don’t see this as a short-term move, I see this as a long-term fix. I want to progress through the ladders with Matlock.”

Central defender Sam Egerton joins the Gladiators from eight-tier club Trafford where he spent the previous season as the side’s skipper. Egerton also won silverware during his time at the club as he was part of the side that won the 2018-19 Integro League Cup.

Whilst Egerton found the decision to depart Trafford a tough one, he’s clearly excited at the plans Matlock Town have for the future:

Egerton said: “I’ve played for Paul Phillips previously when I was at Ashton United so I’m familiar to the way he works. I originally had a conversation last season when Paul first came to Matlock but I was quite settled with Trafford at the time so it wasn’t quite the right time then to move.

"But we spoke again this summer – I enjoyed a lot of the football I played under him while at Ashton and what he demands and what he expects from his teams are a big attraction for me. He brings in a really competitive spirit in the changing room and its stuff like that which made me want to work with Paul again.

"Additionally to that, the club are making big strides on and off the field. To be able to join a club that’s showing a lot of ambition – that’s a massive thing for me.”

Matlock Town’s third signing of the day, full-back Declan Walker, will speak exclusively about his move to the Gladiators later on in the week as he is currently spending time with his family following the very recent birth of his daughter.

The Gladiators have also announced recently that their popular sports therapist Mark Mullins has had to leave the club due to work and personal commitments and are now looking to fill this vacancy.

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