By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC is delighted to announce the appointment of two more members to the managerial staff at Woodhorn Lane.

And in doing so, the Colliers will have a unique three pronged team as manager Ian Skinner, his assistant Andy Coyles and now newcomer Ritchie Hill are all ‘A’ licensed coaches.

The other appointment sees ‘keeper Karl Dryden – who had an outstanding season between the posts last season – taking on the additional role of goalkeeping coach.

Skinner said of Hill: “I was looking to bring another member of staff into the coaching team and I spoke to a number of people, including Ritchie and I felt he was the best fit. He’s experienced; his knowledge is excellent and he’s been involved in the professional game in and around the academy system with Middlesbrough; he’s been at Spennymoor in the National League and with Consett in the Northern Premier League – the league we are going into. He has a good working relationship with Andy Coyles so integrating him into the team was probably easy.”

He continued: “Ritchie has been with us now for a number of weeks but wanted to come in and have a ‘soft and gentle’ introduction. His practices are good; the players like him and his man management is good. I’m not sure there’ll be many management teams at our level – and far further up – that are as qualified as ours in terms of Andy, Ritchie and myself – all of us being ‘A’ licensed coaches and I think that speaks volumes for what we are trying to do. When people look at us and sometimes criticise us for the way we are trying to play and the level we are playing at, I think sometimes it’s a disservice to all of us who have worked at the top end of the game and I believe that we can create an environment here that the players will flourish in.”

Of Karl Dryden, Skinner said: “Being a senior goalkeeper, we asked Karl to take on the responsibility of also being goalkeeping coach which is a specialist position. We felt rather than bring a third party external person in, that it was probably right to offer that opportunity to Karl – which he wanted to take – and we are delighted with his decision to accept. It will certainly not mean that this role will impact on his playing career – he’ll still be seen as a player first and foremost. When we let the goalkeepers break off for a small time during training he’ll lead their development and we’ll probably try and bring one or two younger goalkeepers in to work with him so we are always planning for the future.”

Hill said: “I’m delighted to be part of such a big club with so much history and I didn’t need any persuading to join. Initially the approach came from Andy Coyles whom I worked with at Consett last year and then after a brief conversation with manager Ian Skinner it was an absolute no brainer and I’m thrilled to be on board. The group of lads here are very honest and hungry to progress and improve both as individual players and as a group, so it’s been a doddle really. Their application and commitment is first class and the last couple of weeks have been a joy.”

Dryden said: “I’ve played in the Northern League for 17 years and for me, the role of being a goalkeeping coach is an extension of playing. I’m 35 (years old) now and not getting any younger! Now that Ross (Coombe) has come in, it’s being able to go to training and having the ability to go to one side predominantly just to work on something technically ourselves before coming back into the session at the end.”

He continued: “I’ve got my level two qualification from when I did my scholarship years ago and being goalkeeping coach is something I’ve always thought about doing. It’s never actually cropped up until now and when the manager (Ian Skinner) asked me, I was more than happy to agree to do it.”