By David Richardson,
It didn’t take long for Steve Kittrick to realise the Matlock Town job was one he really wanted.
“I got the exact same feeling as when I went I walked into Guiseley for the interview all those years ago,” beamed the former Ossett Town, AFC Telford and Scarborough Athletic boss, who beat 39 other applicants to the role.
“It’s a good established Non-League football club that has underachieved on the pitch the last few years.”
In their last 15 Northern Premier League seasons, they’ve finished in the top ten only four times and haven’t been higher than fifth. Kittrick’s task is obvious.
“That’s exactly what happened with Guiseley and where did we end up? Conference North play-offs three times and winning trophies,” he said.
“They’re the same sort of people who understand football but want to push it on, on the pitch and have a go. That’s what their aim is. That’s the biggest reason I’ve gone there.
“I’m a little bit disgruntled with how some football clubs behave, it’s frustrating, I’ve been in this game a long time now. When I got back into football this time I wanted that feeling I had at Guiseley and have people that have been around football for a long time.
“I want people with smiles on their faces and people are going to see attractive football I always play. That’s what I’ve been fetched in to do.
“People have asked me, ‘why Matlock?’ and I’ve said, ‘why not!’ I’ve been successful at every club I’ve been at. At Scarborough I was 68 per cent unbeaten, Telford 78 per cent, Guiseley 78 per cent unbeaten. Let’s hope we can bring success to Matlock that we did there.”
The 61-year-old is as experienced as they come in Non-League. Starting out in local football in West Yorkshire, he stepped up to the Northern Counties East League before taking over at Ossett, where he caught the eye of Guiseley and won them the Northern Premier League title.
He left for Telford before joining Scarborough in early 2016 and after one play-off final defeat the Seadogs won promotion the following year.
Last season, their first at Step 3, Kittrick was surprisingly axed in March with the club seventh, four points off the play-offs, with chairman Trevor Bull explaining “we want to move the club in a different direction next season and start making preparations”.
“I understand why they did in respect of I don’t think it was a results thing,” said Kittrick. “There’s nothing untoward at all, every picture tells the story.
“I think it was just a little too early for where I wanted and where they wanted to go.
“From my perspective, when I took over we were sharing a ground with someone, they were hand to mouth in paying players, supporters putting money in to pay wages and then they’ve gone to the new ground and it went from like a Sunday morning setup to a brand-new ground.
“It started running away from itself. Really I think they should have understood where I wanted to be. They backed me but I think their view changed about where they wanted to be next year. They viewed with five or six games to go they wanted a change. They want to get other things in place before they push on.”
Matlock were in serious danger of relegation last season until ex-Gainsborough Trinity boss Dave Frecklington was appointed and turned things around.
He agreed to leave the club at the end of the campaign and now Kittrick has the opportunity to take the Gladiators forward.
He’s made his first four signings this week in striker Luke Kinsley from Frickley Athletic, Belper Town winger Piteu Crouz, Scarborough’s all-action midfielder Luke Dean and left-back Ben Gordon from Gainsborough Trinity.
“We’re recruiting well, we’re taking our time, picking the people we want, getting the right personnel, if you can do that, you don’t always get it 100 per cent right.
“We’re keeping some existing players and adding a lot of new players.
“It’s quite a few more in the pipeline but this time of the season every manager will tell you the same, it’s a merry-go-round and it’s a money-fest at the moment.
“A lot of players are overpriced but when it all settles down the normal budgets come into play and we can get on and sign people. I’m looking forward to another