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Shaun Webbley caught up with defender Matt Hunt after Saturday’s game

The look on Lichfield City defender Matt Hunt's face is a picture.



Wayne Chapman, Lichfield City's assistant manager, has gestured to the towering centre-back that he needs to do an interview. His eyes widen, he looks me up and down and agrees, eventually.



The defender has just put in a man-of-the-match performance in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Stone Old Alleynians and he looks pleased with himself.


As the pair of us wander out of the clubhouse, Hunt admits he's never had an interview before. Hunt, who is now in his thirties, doesn't scare easily but he certainly looks tense for a man who has a very outgoing demeanour.



The former Tividale man has had a rather bizarre few months in the West Midlands. He originally joined Ivor Green's men last season but, after being in and out of the first team, the defender decided to reunite with another former Lichfield man Tom Hurdman at Dudley Town.



However, Hunt, after talks with Green, decided to come back to the club and he has been a lively presence since his return to the side.



Hunt has featured more and more recently partly due to the ongoing injury issues with Leighton McMenemy but also his growing influence in the squad and his ability to follow Green's post-match instructions to the letter.



As his performances have gotten better, so too has his confidence around the team and he spoke after the win over Stone about his decision to return to the club and the 'new' Lichfield.



"Obviously, I made the decision to leave and then come back but I think this time, this is a different Lichfield," Hunt said. "I wasn't here this time last year but had we come here in February (when he joined the club) we might have lost.



"We're all on the same page, nobody can cheat and if they do, they get found out, it's different."



The domineering defender lined up alongside first Jamie Elkes and then youngster Josh Wykes, despite this, the Lichfield defence never really looked like they were under too much pressure throughout and the win, and the relative ease with which they held onto their lead, has to be down to a different feel around the club this season.



So, what has changed?



"We've bought in different personnel," Hunt said. "We understand now it's a squad game its the 16 on the matchday. We've brought in good people who are willing to wait for their chance and work hard in training.



"You look at Wednesday's game (the win over step 4 side Sporting Khalsa) with a different set of players, we performed superbly. Today, when all the lads came in, there were murmurs from one or two about what the lineup would be. I think last season you could probably name the lineup, but it's different this year. That's a testament to the quality of the squad that we've got."



There does seem to be a different feel around the club. Last Wednesday's win over Khalsa, with a much-changed team, is surely a big sign of the growing quality in depth that the squad now possesses.



Green and indeed Chapman, prior to the new season, spoke about the importance of bringing through young players. Their mantra is that bringing in a few from the Lichfield academy can only be a positive, these players are young, hungry and can be moulded.



The coaching pair loves players who are hungry and eager to learn, willing to take on every word that they are told and carry it out to a tee, with fearlessness and a smile.



Well, if you looked at the Lichfield bench during Saturday's win over Stone, there were multiple academy players there, ready and waiting. The club's ethos, driven by the coaching pair, is to bring through academy players and they are keen to carry that on.



This isn't something new but at a non-league level bringing in academy players brings its own pressure on the coaching team, however, they have really kept to their principles.



Hunt agrees with this statement and was keen to praise Wykes for his adaptability and also his composure to come into such a tough environment.



Hunt said: "Young Josh came on and what a good lad he is. I said to him all jokes aside, I'll finish and you'll carry on, I just want to impart the wisdom that I've learnt at 33 onto these younger players."



As the squad seemingly gets younger and younger, these players, who have crucial experience at this level, become more and more important.



Hunt is no different and at 33 is one of the most experienced members of Green's squad but despite left-back Joe Haines remaining the club captain, Hunt was keen to point out he can play a crucial leadership role without the captaincy, too.



"I was at Tividale and was captain for three years and I love that responsibility. I love helping the younger players," Hunt revealed. "It's no coincidence I have been captain in the past for most of these teams and I just love being a leader and even if I'm not the official captain I love being one of the experienced heads in the dressing room."



The togetherness that has been garnered this season will be crucial and players like Hunt, who have been there and done it before can only be a positive for such a young and exciting side.



The defender ended the interview as Chapman burst through the door laughing and sniggering at Hunt's choice of footwear, which were a bright yellow pair of boots. Hunt shook his head and laughed before returning to the huddle of the players in the clubhouse.



Things seem different and Hunt, who was surprised about how well he spoke during the interview, embodies this new Lichfield. A hungry side looking to make a name for themselves, anything is seemingly possible.

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