Photo: Rachel McDonald
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC chairman Brian Shotton was still beaming from ear to ear days after his Ebac Northern League outfit had hosted Newcastle United under 23’s at The dwmedia Stadium last week.
The event saw the Woodhorn Lane based side set a new attendance record for the ground as a superb turn out of 1,357 smashed through the previous best of 1,229.
The icing on the cake would have been if the Colliers had progressed into the semi finals of the Techflow Marine Northumberland Senior Cup – and they went close. After being 2-0 down by the hour mark, two goals in five minutes from Karl Ross and Craig Spooner pegged the young Magpies back to 2-2 before the under 23’s went through via a penalty shoot out.
The chairman – one of a number who worked a 17 hours shift on the day to ensure that everything ran as smoothly as possible – could not pour enough praise onto the people of the town as well as Newcastle United who donated their share of the gate receipts back to the Wansbeck club: “As time went on, online ticket sales were building and by close of play on the day, just short of 1,000 had been sold,” he said, “We thought we would get around another 300-400 on top of that so we weren’t far away from hitting the figure that I had thought.”
He continued: “On behalf of the club, I’d like to say a massive thank you to the people of Ashington for their fantastic support. I know it was a spectacle of a game – but I think it showed more than anything how much potential our club has got if we keep moving it in the right direction. It would have been lovely to have won the tie but the biggest thing for me was that people came and enjoyed the evening and I think everyone went home quite happy.”
He went on: “Behind the scenes, there was a lot of organising to do but I was pleased with the way things went. Overall it was a well arranged evening and everyone played there part both on and off the field.” Mr Shotton was also bursting with delight after the magnificent gesture by the St James’s Park outfit to hand back their share of the receipts: “We knew before the game that that was going be the case which is credit to them. It was a massive tick in the box for Newcastle United as they are giving back to the community and they also supported us with the organising of stewards and security.”