NPL Premier Division outfit Matlock Town have announced two more new signings to continue the huge squad rebuild to attempt to put a string of disappointing seasons behind them.
Full-back Lewis Turner and central midfielder Nathan Valentine have been confirmed as the two latest additions at the Proctor Cars Stadium. Turner joins the Gladiators after a spell without a club following his departure from Farsley Celtic at the end of last season while Valentine will already be a familiar face to many Gladiators fans after his impressive loan spell with Matlock Town in the second half of last season has now resulted in a permanent switch from Stalybridge Celtic.
Lewis Turner saw the switch to the Derbyshire outfit as a good move for him and is impressed with the ambition of the club to put behind a stagnant last few years:
“I spoke to Dave Wild. He showed an interest in me and showed me the direction the club are wanting to go in. Straight away it drew my attention and it was definitely something I was interested in; the way in which the club is run, it’s a massive club, big fan base.
"Coming at a time with me not having a club – it was something that I was keen to get involved in and since meeting all the staff I think it’s really exciting times and it’s something that I want to be a part of.”
Turner spoke positively about how the club’s first few pre-season training sessions have gone now that the Northern Premier League finally has an official start date.
The 27-year-old defender from Garforth is confident that the new-look squad’s huge work ethic and intense pre-season training sessions will bode well for the side’s chances of success for this coming season:
“They’ve been really tough. We’ve just had one of the toughest pre-season sessions I’ve ever done. Paul Phillips said pre-season training was going to be really tough and he wasn’t lying!
"The squad’s attitude has been unbelievable since we’ve all come back in. The work rate has been great and everyone’s been looking after each other…we know that if we put the work in now we’ll still be strong past the Christmas/new year period.”
Lewis Turner also spoke about what Matlock Town’s expectations are for this much-anticipated 2020/2021 league campaign. With there being no promotions allowed at the end of last season and still only one automatic promotion spot up for grabs, the NPL Premier Division promises to be a hugely competitive affair at the right end of the table.
Turner though is very confident that the Gladiators can put some very average years behind them and be part of the promotion race for this coming season:
“We want to aim as high as possible…I feel like Matlock have maybe underachieved for the last few years. The quality of the recruitment that Paul and Dave have brought in is up there and if we put this hard work in now like I mentioned before, we should be aiming for a play-off place minimum really.”
Despite a hugely difficult past twelve months for Matlock Town, Nathan Valentine finds himself back at the Proctor Cars Stadium. Valentine was a popular figure with Gladiators supporters last season and is very keen to renew his popularity with the club’s fan base:
“As a player, you can only gain respect from your performances…I jumped at the chance really to come to Matlock last season. I think the fans at Matlock know what I’m about. I scored goals but they saw the work rate I put in as well.
"For me, the support from fans has been very flattering. I feel like I’ve had a good relationship with the fans of every team I’ve been at. I think fans appreciate the tracking back I do and the tackles I put in.”
The midfielder also commented on the huge transformation between Matlock Town’s new-look squad compared to last season’s team:
“I’ve seen a complete contrast in attitude with the signings brought in compared to the team Matlock had last season. I think the fans can expect to see a completely different side to the one they saw last season. I’ve certainly noticed how tight-knit we are as a group. Any successful team that I’ve been at before has to have a lot of winners in there.
"We’ve got a very, very good spine in this team now. We’ve got a lot of experience. Players like Spencer Harris for example epitomises the type of people Paul Phillips and Dave Wild demand to have at this club. I think teams are going to find it very, very difficult to break us down next season. I just can’t wait to get going!”
As well as the two new additions to the squad, Matlock Town have also announced that Jack Gleave is the club’s new sports therapist. Gleave replaces the popular figure of Mark Mullins who had to leave the club due to other work and personal commitments.
With the new season for Step 3 non-league teams confirmed to start on September 19, Matlock Town have also been able to release their provisional pre-season friendly schedule. The provisional schedule is as follows:
New Mills (A) – Thursday 6th August
Wythenshawe Town (A) – Saturday 8th August
Brighouse Town (A) – Saturday 15th August
Clipstone (A) – Tuesday 18th August
TBC (H) – Friday 21st August
Sheffield (A) – Tuesday 25th August
TBC (H) – Friday 28th August
Tamworth (A) – Saturday 6th September
TBC (H) – Tuesday 8th September