By Brian Bennett
Damen Mullen said Ashington seemed to be ‘the perfect choice’ – after he put pen to paper on a contract with the Woodhorn Lane outfit following his release from Hebburn Town.
Mullen will need no introduction to supporters at The dwmedia Stadium. The versatile 33 year old enjoyed a highly successful one month loan period with the club last term – and proved to be a big hit with the fans.
In less than a fortnight manager Ian Skinner has brought in a plethora of new players and Mullen – on his return to play for his home town club – said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time when I was on loan at Ashington in October last year. I’d been injured for the first part of the season at Hebburn and I started to build up my fitness with Ashington -and in that short spell they were doing really well. However, at Hebburn we didn’t have a great season – I had my injuries – and the club and myself decided to go our separate ways.”
Mullen, who is based in Holystone, continued: “I got in touch with Ian Skinner and said I’d be interested in coming to Ashington and things just snowballed from there. I had an initial chat a couple of weeks ago and then the boss mentioned about the ambitions of the club and the personnel he was looking to bring in. It’s all happened too with the announcement of the players he has brought in so far.”
Mullen added: “I was born in Ashington but I’m a Stakeford lad really! I played at Woodhorn Lane years over ten years ago ago under the management team of Gary Middleton and Neil Winskill – before this fabulous new stand was built. I know the club have gone through some tough times but it has progressed over recent years and is heading in the right direction again. I had a couple of offers from other clubs but I chose Ashington because it just seemed like the perfect place to come back.”
Manager Skinner said: “When Damen was on loan with us last season, we won six and lost one of the seven games he played for us and our supporters also took to him. He brought a real calming influence to the team; he helped us look after the ball a little bit and helped us maintain possession whilst out of possession his positional sense is really good. We wanted to keep him last season once his loan period had expired but Hebburn were the parent club and they asked for him back. It was great when we had him with us and even better now that we have secured his services for the coming campaign. Damen is a fantastic character both on and off the pitch and is vastly experienced having made hundreds of appearances further up the pyramid as well as being a former captain at Blyth Spartans.” He continued: “Damen plays in that key position just in front of the back four where we try and build attacks and he is ideal for us to get on the ball. He’s willing to take the ball under pressure in any situation – similar to Robbie Dale – and that’s what you need in the modern game because at this level and in this league, the opposition like to try and put you under pressure quickly. I’ve got to be honest and say my eyes lit up when I saw Damen was a free agent. He is somebody whom I’ve worked with before as I coached him as a youngster when he was involved in the professional game. I knew we (Ashington) stood a very good chance of getting Damen as soon as he became available so we spoke to him and thrashed out a deal. He was desperate to come; we were desperate to have him and I’m delighted to get him on board.”