By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC’s longest serving player Karl Ross cannot wait for the new season to get underway.

The 24 year old midfielder was included in a recent list of a dozen players by the Woodhorn Lane based club who were either contracted or had signed a new contract with the club.

And although Ross is champing at the bit, he is astonished by the rapid progression of the club as he reflected on his time at Woodhorn Lane.

Ross – the only player who remains from the squad which Ian Skinner inherited when took over as manager four years ago – said: “What a difference and transformation there has been at the club in such a short space of time. I can’t believe it.”

But turning the clock back, there was a period where Ross admitted that a move away from his home town club was a possibility: “I wasn’t in the first team and I just wanted to play,” he said, “I had a chat with the boss (Ian Skinner) and that’s why I went to play for the reserves. I enjoyed my time with them; I was playing up front and scored a lot of goals. I’m thrilled that I didn’t move on. All I wanted was to stay because I love playing for the club.”

Last season, the Colliers went into their final Ebac Northern League game only needing a draw at Bishop Auckland to secure a play off place. The game finished 1-1. “We went there and we knew we were a better side – and I thought it showed,” said Ross, who is based in Cramlington, “We went there for the three points – we didn’t go there to sit in and change the way we play. However when they (Bishop Auckland) got a penalty and scored, I thought it was going to be one of those days. We got in at half time and believed in ourselves and said we had nothing to be scared of. In the second half, we got back on terms and should have won but a point was enough.”

The following week, Ross’s loyalty and commitment was rewarded when Ashington clinched promotion to the Northern Premier League after an inter step play off win over Glossop North End in Derbyshire: “It was unbelievable and is my greatest achievement,” said Ross, “The feeling when the referee blew for full time – I’ve never experienced anything like that before. With me being at the club for so long, I think I went through every emotion. Four years ago we were trying to stay in the first division of the ENL then all of a sudden to think that were going up into the league above was unreal.”

He continued: “As a player, it’s the best season I’ve had at any club,” he said, “It was phenomenal from top to bottom. Obviously results help and we hit record attendances with the fans but we showed on our day that we could beat anyone and the lads were just outstanding – certainly it was the best dressing room I’ve ever been in. Now the club are where they need to be – and next season will be a new challenge.”

Manager Ian Skinner said: “Karl got a special mention at the end of season presentation evening because he is the only player who has been here from the day I came back to the football club. He was in and out of the team. He went to play for the reserves, scored loads of goals and got back in the first team. He sat in my room and said he wasn’t playing very much and I said to him ‘if you don’t play much more I’ll let you go.’ Karl stuck at it; he’s still here and he had a fantastic run towards the end of the season.”