Paul Phillips has backing from Matlock chief executive

Paul Phillips is the man to transform Causeway Lane into the Gladiators’ very own coliseum, says Matlock Town secretary and chief executive Keith Brown.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought a premature halt to a disappointing campaign last term, with Brown’s beloved club failing to shine in the heat of the Northern Premier League battle.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, however, with the resourceful Phillips using pre-season to freshen up his squad and build momentum.

The campaign gets under way on September 19 and Brown, who holds a remarkable 61-year association with the club, reckons Phillips has got his men up for the fight.

“Paul’s done very well and we’ve got a good side together,” said Brown, 80, whose club are one of 228 Northern Premier, Isthmian and Southern League teams to benefit from GVC Holdings’ launch of grassroots sports investment programme Pitching In.

“We know there’s going to be strong competition, we didn’t have a very good season last year but I’m certain, and we’re hoping, that we’ll be chasing up in the top half of the league this season.

“Paul’s a young man but is a very experienced manager – he’s got a good group of people around him and has done very well, so we feel that we’ve got a good squad going into the new season.

“We’ve got quite a lot of new players into the squad and it’s brilliant for the club that fans will be allowed back in.

“We’re very hopeful that we can have a good season – we’ve got an FA Cup game before our first league match at Bamber Bridge, but I think we’ll perform well and make people come and watch us.”

Brown lives and breathes the non-league game – the lifeblood of English football – with Pitching In’s flagship partnership with Trident League clubs promoting and supporting grassroots sport after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme will deliver vital financial assistance and is supplemented by an emphasis on community volunteers pitching in and contributing themselves.

A Pitching In volunteering scheme will be established to help strengthen community ties, with clubs also having the opportunity to apply for grants to ease the financial strain of lockdown.

The programme has also grabbed the attention of football royalty, with former England captain Stuart Pearce offering his support having started his career at Wealdstone FC.

The Pitching In partnership will help ease the strain but Brown’s club also raised £17,000 through Crowdfunding, helping fill the £70,000 void left by the absence of football.

That money has got the club back on its feet and coupled with the injection of GVC Holdings’ support, Brown – also vice chairman of the NPL – says the future is bright.

“Lockdown’s been extremely difficult but our Crowdfunding initiative has had a massive impact and helped tremendously,” he added.

“It’s been a very much community-linked contribution – there’s so much that you have to do with the ground, maintenance and repairs on the pitch, and all of those things cost a lot of money.

“And the Pitching In sponsorship coming in is tremendous and we’re absolutely thrilled to bits about it – it’s absolutely massive to see that investment coming into the game after the pandemic.”

GVC is launching a new multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports and is being launched with a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident Leagues. For more information visit: https://gvc-plc.com/PitchingIn

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