By Brian Bennett
Ashington Football Club’s Ben Sampson was delighted on Saturday night after being named as the supporters Player of the Year.
The versatile Sampson – who played for his hometown club at full back or centre midfield – said afterwards: “It came as a bit of a surprise really but I’m very pleased. I think it’s a good award to win because it’s nice to know that you are appreciated by the fans and I thank them for voting for me. It’s a pleasure to play for the team and we have got a really good group of lads here so much so that I thought there were a lot of players who could have won it. It was a genuinely competitive field – shown by different players winning the various awards.
The 23 year old, who is based in Morpeth, continued: “I was happy throughout the season. I thought I played consistently and well and when Liam Doyle came into the side at full back, it allowed me to play centre midfield which I enjoy more.”
He went on: “I’m staying with the club next year and I think we can massively push on. We maybes need a few additions here and there but as long as we keep all the lads we’ve already got, there’s no reason why we can’t kick on and win the league next year.”
Manager Ian Skinner said: “Ben has been Mr Consistent throughout the season in both positions he has been asked to play whether it be at right back or centre midfield. He’s been a regular performer in the team and has been accomplished in both positions.”
Ian Reid who has been chairman of the Ashington supporters club for around 14 years said: “Ben was worthy of the award. He is a very consistent and popular player who just gets on with his job and I can’t remember him having a poor game last term.”
Mr Reid revealed that the fan base has doubled over the past year and makes no secret of the fact that the supporters dubbed Ian Skinner’s side ‘The entertainers’ during last season’s exploits. The club finished eighth in the first division and won silverware for the first time in nine years after winning the Ebac Northern League Division One Cup with a 4-1 victory over Newcastle Benfield and Mr Reid added: “I started supporting the club in 1963 and last season was the most entertaining I’ve seen after we scored 112 goals in all competitions. When we won promotion from the second division of the Northern League in 1999 under Cec Irwin’s management, we netted 90 plus goals – but last season was just fabulous to watch.”