By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Defensive lynchpin Darren Lough was taken aback when he was informed that he had won the ‘Management player of the season’ at Ashington Football Club last week.

Lough – who was unable to attend the presentation night – said: “The news came as a complete surprise. The full squad played well throughout the season including our fabulous run in the Emirates FA Cup then clinching promotion to the Northern Premier League – so overall it was a great campaign.”

However there was an unfortunate twist when in the closing minutes of Ashington’s final Ebac Northern League first division clash of the season at Bishop Auckland, the 33 year old was forced off the field after sustaining a broken nose.

The Colliers had gone into the contest knowing that a draw would see them finish as league runners up and take them into the Inter step play off final – and at the time of Lough’s injury, the scores were locked at 1-1: “I knew straight away it was broken,” said Lough, “It was frustrating because I knew if we saw the game out that we would be through.”

The Colliers duly got the result before they found out that they were pitched to play Glossop North End in Derbyshire the following Saturday – but Morpeth-based Lough was a non starter: “To be honest my nose didn’t feel too sore at the time,” he said, “In the end I had to wait two weeks to have it reset. Now it’s a case of being on the road to recovery.”

Ashington-born Lough kept a close eye on his team’s progress at Glossop: “I followed the game online,” he said, “With the quality we’ve got, once we took the lead I thought we would go on to win it – and we did just that,” he said, “I was buzzing when the final whistle came and celebrated at home. There are a lot of people involved with Ashington Football Club – and I was delighted for everyone.”

Colliers boss Ian Skinner said: “I thought Darren deserved the Management player of the season award – he has been a big player for us this season. With Darren, what you see is what you get – 100 per cent commitment and effort. He wants to win every game we play whether it be on a Saturday or the little games at the end of training – and that’s just the competitive spirit which is in him. He doesn’t like to miss games but sat out a few last season firstly with a broken foot then a broken nose. If I’m honest, he’s a bit of a dying breed as I’m not sure you’ll get too many more Darren Lough’s because he’s old school and old fashioned – without making him sound older than he is – and just wants to stand and defend.”

He continued: “It was a big blow when we lost him at Bishop Auckland in the last minute and straight away my thoughts switched to the play off game but Ryan McKinnon had waited patiently and Robbie Dale had done fantastically well for us at centre back throughout the season and when I watched the videos of Glossop, even though Darren’s absence was a big loss, I was comfortable that if we played to the levels of which we were capable of, then the lads would get the job done – and they did just that.”