Monday, 7 March 2011
301 Matthew Gilks
Position : Goalkeeper
Played : 2000-01 to 2006-07
Appearances : 166
Goals : 0
Given that Jonah and Flicker had spells away from the club Matthew is the first player we've come to with a continuous stint that went into the Hillcroft era. Matt came through the club's YTS scheme and got his first team chance in March 2001 when Neil Edwards got sent off , inevitably just days after letting Phil Priestley sign for Chester.
Matt had a daunting debut away at leaders Chesterfield and , recalling Steve Bywater's diastrous debut at Carlisle , we were braced for calamity. It didn't happen. Matt got the better of David Reeves in a one-on-one situation early in the game and went on from there with a nerveless display. He was all at sea for their equaliser from a corner but you could forgive him for that. Matt got his next chance the next game when Edwards got injured and he came off the bench. He also played in the game after that.
Matt started the next season in the team as Edwards struggled with injury and played his part in our impressive start before he was controversially dropped after keeping a clean sheet at Swansea, Parkin saying he needed a rest. He returned for the FA Cup ties suffering a nightmare at Blackpool when a certain Paul Simpson made an absolute monkey of him , only the posts saving Matt from conceding a hat trick of long range lobs. He finished the season with 19 appearances and 6 clean sheets to his name not having let anyone down.
Matt had to wait until October for his first game under Paul Simpson but came back in the side in February and had a straight run to the end of the season though he had to go off with concussion at York in April 2003. By then he had made an impression as an agile brave keeper with one big Achilles heel, his kicking which never really improved. We were always lucky if his goalkicks remained in play. He was a bit testy about it and once turned round and told my mate Mark to f**k off after one heckle too many.
Edwards was still out injured at the start of the next season so Matt played up until November just missing the disastrous run which cost Alan Buckley his job. Edwards kept his place under Steve Parkin., Matt only appearing again in the final game at Oxford. The following season he managed to elbow the increasingly creaky Edwards aside and become first choice. Edwards walked out at the end of the season and Matt was ever-present in 2005-06 . He didn't appreciate the constructive criticism of team-mate Tony Gallimore which may have been a factor in the latter's release.
Matt was also ever-present in 2006-07 when the new dawn began and certainly contributed to the upturn in our fortunes with 12 clean sheets (18 in total that season). Matt knew he could move on to better things at the end of the season and couldn't be persuaded to stay.
He signed for Norwich in the summer but after a year of sitting on the bench moved on to Blackpool . After playing in one Carling Cup tie he rejoined Paul Simpson on loan at Shrewsbury for 4 games in November 2008. He got a 5 game run in Blackpool's first team in the new year but didn't establish himself until last season which of course was crowned with victory in the play-offs despite conceding 6 goals over the three games. Matt is now a Premiership goalkeeper with three clean sheets in the top flight and a call up to the Scotland squad to his credit although he is out injured at the time of writing.