By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner admitted that promotion to the Northern Premier League ‘hadn’t sunk in yet’ – following his sides emphatic 3-0 win over Glossop North End in the Inter step play off contest at Surrey Street on Saturday.
“The players have got this club out of the Northern League today,” he said, “Its 55 years since Ashington were last in the NPL and I’m delighted for everybody. A few people said to me this week about the nerves going into the play offs whilst others commented that its sometimes the best way because its the occasion of a one-off game and you know at the end of it what the outcome is.”
He continued: “First and foremost, credit has got to go to the players because they have done the job which I challenged them to do. The aim at the start of the season was to get promotion. I seriously thought we could achieve that and we’ve done it – but I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet! Each and every one of the players deserves a massive pat on the back. Without being disrespectful, our lads were comfortable and convincing winners today and the only disappointing thing was that we were only 1-0 up at half time for all of our good play.”
He added: “Second half it’s a little bit of a stick or twist situation. We wanted to stay on the front foot and we talked about the quality we had showed in the first half. We wanted to score a second and make things a bit more comfortable for ourselves whilst they (Glossop) were always going to have a go. They did so for five to ten minutes but our second goal settled us down followed by the third and then I’m thinking ‘we should get the job done.”
On the eve of the game, England and Durham’s Ashington-born pace bowler Mark Wood sent a good luck message to the club via a video link whilst on the day, Tommy Charlton, brother of Bobby and the late Jackie, travelled to cheer the Colliers on.
Skinner said: “I’ve got to mention our supporters. We have averaged attendances of over 500 at Woodhorn Lane – which is phenomenal. They have backed us all the way (including our run in the FA Cup) as well as on our travels plus here again today. I’m just delighted for everybody – the town; the club plus individuals and volunteers who give up numerous hours like Gav Perry, Brian Robson and Alan Brown. I’d also like to give a special mention to Neil Cooper and Lee Anderson – people who didn’t quite end the journey with us. They were both part of it (the journey) but unfortunately for various reasons didn’t see it through – but they helped us to almost the half way point so they can be proud that they were part of this.”
Poignantly he concluded: “We have lost some really key people and big supporters this year which is always sad. I’ll not name them all individually in fear of missing one or two but for all those who we have lost – and it seems to have been a tough season with probably five that I can think of – hopefully they will have been looking down on us and have helped to carry us through.”