Sunday, 28 November 2010
204 Neil Matthews
Position : Centre half (also played at left back)
Played : 1993-94 to 1994-95
Appearances : 19
Goals : 0
Neil was signed in the summer on a free from Cardiff but didn't make his debut until October due to a pre-season injury. He started out at Blackpool where he won Under-21 caps for Northern Ireland and played in a variety of positions but predominantly right back. After 76 appearances over 5 seasons he went to Cardiff in search of more first team football. He was a regular in his first season there but probably suffered for his versatility. In 1992-93 he went on loan to Songdal in Norway but still made enough appearances to get Third Division Championship and Welsh Cup winner's medals.
He made 6 appearances in 1992-93 all as cover for Jimmy Graham at left back and did well but couldn't manage to stay fit enough to really compete for the position; my mate christened him "Mr Bump" .He got off to a good start the following season standing in for Paul Butler at centre half . In the opening game at Bury he made a superb last ditch tackle and the referee admirably booked the forward for diving. Butler reclaimed his place after two games but Neil came back into the side when Alan Reeves was sold. Unfortunately in the second post-Reevesie game away at Barnet, Neil was absolutely murdered by Dougie Freedman as we were hammered 6-2 and after that his days were numbered as Sutton went on a protracted hunt for a new centre half eventually signing Peter Valentine. Neil kept his place for a couple of games in a 5-man defence but as soon as Mick Docherty took over he was dropped. Neil had a move to Bulova in Hong Kong arranged but agreed to stay at Dale while we were still in the Autoglass Trophy as Valentine was cup-tied. He played his part in our run to the Northern Final against Carlisle (ironically the team for whom Valentine had appeared) then left amicably. During that period he also got a Northern Ireland B cap against Scotland which sort of made him our first international.
Neil signed up for Macclesfield on his return from Hong Kong but had gone by the time they came into the league. He was last heard of in a bizarre and bogus story in the Manchester Evening News where he supposedly saved a girl from being mugged for her winning lottery ticket in a pub.