By Brian Bennett
On the upstairs wall inside the clubhouse at Ashington Football Club, a mural depicting three all time greats from the area – Jackie Milburn, Jackie Charlton and his brother Sir Bobby Charlton – is prominently displayed.
After hearing of the passing of Sir Bobby, Ashington chairman Brian Shotton opened the doors at Woodhorn Lane and stood poignantly viewing the mural.
“Three years ago when we had the mural installed, one of them (Jackie Milburn) had already passed,” said Brian “Now sadly, all three have left us – but the mural will serve as a lasting legacy and I’m proud to acknowledge that we do pay tribute to ‘football icons’ at this football club.”
Ahead of Ashington’s clash against Pontefract Collieries on Saturday, a book of condolence was opened for Sir Bobby; a minute’s applause was held before kick-off and apart from asking supporters to wear something red, the Ashington team played in red tops.
Secretary and programme editor Gav Perry collated a superb Sir Bobby tribute programme with a cover photo of the great man himself kicking a football in the back streets of Ashington whilst their were tributes from Brian Shotton, manager Ian Skinner and former England and Durham cricketer Steve Harmison.
“Sir Bobby was from Ashington and everyone knows the area which we live in,” added Brian, “Even though I never actually met him (Sir Bobby), it was an emotional week. On Sunday we discussed a few things including how we were going to pay tribute to Sir Bobby and to be fair it was an idea by Ian Skinner that we should change our strips. Then we had to try and get our hands on a red kit so it was all hands to the pump to get things sorted out in time for the game.”
Brian said the week in general had been a busy one: “Personally I’ve just taken on a new job and have been training which is my priority but I had a lot of work to do with the football club especially in the evenings,” he said, “My wife Nicola knows how much time I spent last week – not just for Sir Bobby but generally on the club itself as we find our feet in a new league.”
Ashington won Saturday’s contest 2-1 but Brian said: “I didn’t see a lot of the game to be honest and I missed our second goal because there is always a lot going on off the pitch. However from the bit of action which I did see, Pontefract are clearly a good outfit and there was nothing between the sides. It looked like it was a blood and thunder game of football which is what people like to see and it was a good win for us.”