We caught up with former Southport defender Matt Hocking who played 67 times for the club over a two year spell under Peter Davenport and Gary Brabin.
Can you tell us about how you ended up signing for Southport?
I was playing for Fisher Athletic in the Conference South, but not really enjoying my football down there.
By chance I spoke to Dino Maamria, my mate I had met at my time at Stevenage Borough who put my name forward to Peter Davenport. The next thing I know ‘Dav’ called me wanting me to go up to Southport to have a chat with him. I liked what I saw at the club and Peter Davenport’s ambitious plans…. So for me, signing for Southport was a no brainer.
Can you remember your debut?
After signing for Southport midweek I remember staying in a hotel the club sorted out for me for a couple of nights in preparation for the Saturday home match v Altrincham where I think were drew.
I remember three other players making their debuts that day. They were Mark Duffy, Chris Holland and Sean Patterson.
After the game I remember jumping on a train back down to London where my wife and 3 month old girl were.
We soon rented a flat in the town and eventually bought a house in Kew which we still have.
What was your favourite moment in a Southport shirt?
I had such a great time at the club I find it hard to remember one particular moment in a Southport shirt. But if I had to choose one I would say our win at Rushden and Diamonds 3-2 away in my first season when we were desperate for points. I remember the boys were on fire that day, particulary Carl Baker who was unplayable.
Who were your best friends in the dressing room?
My time at Southport was one of my most enjoyable times in my career, mainly due to the great set of lads we had at the club. I can honestly say everyone got on with each other in the dressing room and we would regulary socialise together which definitely brought us closer as a team.
I still speak to some of the boys now including Kevin Davis. Kev came over as a trialist GK from New Jersey (USA). He was 6’5″ and a fantastic keeper, but unfortunately for him and the club he never received his international clearance to play.
I also still speak to Dav and Huw (Griffiths) two good honest people who I regard as fantasic coaches. They worked unbelievably hard on and off the training ground for us.
What are you most proud of in football?
I am proud of numerous thing I achieved in my career…
Various FA cup runs
Making just under 300 football league appearances
Getting into conference playoff finals/semi finals
My last minute winning goal for York City v Brighton
Goal for Boston United v Macclesfield Town, keeping us in the football league
Promotion with Gateshead
and all the fantastic clubs I’ve played for..
Do you have any regrets from your time at the club?
I remember getting beaten on penalties in our play-off semi final game, second leg match at Stalybridge Celtic knowing we should have won.
I pulled ankle ligaments midway through the second half after landing awkwardly from a header and got stretchered off.
I came out of their medical room in time to see us go out on penalties..!
Liam Blakeman came over to my house later on that evening and I was on crutches. We ordered a chinese takeaway but unable to eat much of it as we were both so gutted after such a promising season had come to an end with nothing to show.
Tell us an interesting story about your time at the club, something people might not have heard before…
Ha Ha.. Non football related, but on many team nights out (team joker and club captain) Chris Holland’s party trick was running into the side of a slow moving bus and doing a backwards summersault. Most of the time however they didnt ‘come off’ and you’d see Chris in a heap on the pavement somewhere off Lord Street with people gathered around him.
What are you up to these days?
I am currently back living in Boston, Lincs with my beautiful wife Debbie and my two amazing children Beau (8) and Jamie (5)
I’m just starting a new role at Boston United FC as a Football Development Officer as well as working part-time as the U15s manager at Peterborough Uniteds Academy.
Thanks Matt for taking the time to talk to us.