Our first meeting of the new season was held on Thursday, 4th August.
The Senior Tigers were delighted to welcome our goalkeeper, Matt Ingram, to our first meeting of the new season. David, our Chairman, gave him a warm greeting. He then referred to a fantastic save, early in the first game. “Wow, what a great save on Saturday! Did that help to settle the nerves?” The response was immediate – “Yes!”
Matt, who was born in High Wycombe in 1993, said that he did not come from a sporting family but his dad had put him in goal at the early age of 6. Later, in Secondary School he received the same instruction – “Go in goal!” A few years later he was winning the English Schools Championship. Asked who was the greatest influence, apart from his dad in that very early direction, he mentioned Richard Dobson. Dobson was then the Youth Team coach at Wycombe Wanderers, now the Assistant Manager.
In the early days, he was being noticed, He was invited to an England Goal-keeper Training Camp, the only one from below the Premier League. Wycombe Wanderers gave him his first professional contract in 2012 and then sent him on a series of loans to gain experience. His debut for the Wanderers came in season 2012/13 when they lost 1-0 away at Accrington, the one goal being scored by one of his defenders on the goal line. The following season Matt became the Wanderers first-choice goalie, it was a tough season but safety was achieved on the very last day of the season. The following season (2014/15) he helped the team to the Play-off final and was voted League 2’s Best Goal-keeper. Matt played a total of 111 games for the Wanderers and he told us just how proud he was to play for his home club. The move to QPR (2015/16) was a promising opportunity but proved to be a tough experience. He was loaned out to Northampton the following season and saved 7 or 8 penalties. However, his body was taking a fair punishment. Three broken noses, two broken hands, wrist, fingers & knees! Then, in 2018, he returned to Wycombe on an ‘emergency loan’ for one match, away at Sunderland in front of 38,000 people!
The Call from the Tigers:
He realised that his career was not moving forwards so when City came in for him in 2019, he needed no persuasion. Coming to the Tigers would bring him under the watchful care of our Goal-keeping Coach, Barry (Baz) Richardson, who had already been a big influence upon him at Wycombe. That first season with the Tigers saw him keeping the bench warm with just one appearance. It was, of course, the season that saw the team relegated to Division One. The next season would be different. He saw plenty of action as the Tigers stormed to the League One Championship. He recognised this as the highlight of his career but added how disappointing it was that spectators were largely kept away by the pandemic. He missed them.
He was asked what the Dressing Room was like during that successful season. He replied that it grew stronger as the players realised that they were good enough to win. Playing in empty stadiums was also strange, he mentioned that you could hear everything the players said across the pitch and you could also hear what the manager was saying! With fans now restored and new owners in charge, he said it was a much ‘better place’ to be in. The new owners had been a breath of fresh air and had been welcomed by all the players. Asked about the new Head Coach, David had suggested that Shota seems “quiet” on the side-lines and asked whether there was another side to him. “Yes”, replied Matt, adding that he is very vocal at the Training Ground!
David, recognising that we have many new players from numerous different countries, asked whether the players can understand other! “Just about!” he replied. He said that the new lads can speak reasonable English. He added that the aim now was to take the talents, which are in the team, to become a team on the pitch.
He agreed that the game had changed. Goalkeepers used to just kick the ball down the field whilst now they are encouraged to play out from the back. They were much more involved in the game now. He was asked whether the goalie gets involved in the half-time team talk. He assured us that he does! He also mentioned the analyst guys who come in and share what they have recorded during the first half. Matt also said that at the end of a match he had more headaches than body aches. Talking about that he was asked about the time when he was knocked out at QPR and how he reacted. He said that once he’d come round his instinct was to get back on his feet but the physio refused to let him. The frustration then meant he had to observe the protocol regulations and sit out for 7 days.
Do new players still have to sing to their new colleagues? Matt said that the tradition still holds but in most cases he hasn’t a clue as to what they are singing! The pre-season visit to Turkey had revealed just how big a national hero Acun is back home. Everybody recognises him and wherever he went he was cheered.
Janet warmed us all by saying “You look like a lovely lad”. He was asked whether his family still came to cheer him at matches. They did come up to some but not all the games, but will turn up at away games in the southeast.
Someone asked what questions the doctors asked when a player has been taken off with a head injury. Usually, the doctor would ask him to say five words and then ask a few other simple questions before asking the player to repeat the five words. This drew the comment from the Chair that “most of our members would probably fail without concussions!”
Matt was asked about the new French keeper signed from Spurs. His response was “I’ve got the number 1 shirt, it’s up to me to perform!” He then added that the young lad was one for the future, “a really good signing”.
As a final question, he was asked what was the weirdest thing he’d heard shouted at him from behind the goal. His first response was that he probably could repeat it! He did mention he’d had people say they knew something about his sister – a little puzzling as he doesn’t have a sister!
A brilliant session and a fantastic goalkeeper.
Photos from the meeting
David with Matt Ingram The members gathered for the AGM
Flowers to Pat Betts for help with the Player Raffle winner of Crofters £56 voucher
of the Season award