By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC defender Gary Ormston said that the news which broke on Tuesday night of Ian Skinner’s departure as manager at the end of the current season came as a big shock to him.

And the 40 year old – who described himself as being ‘one of the senior people at the club’ – added that he will be ‘forever grateful’ to the outgoing boss who will step aside with his head held high after more than five incredible and successful years in the post.

“It was a big shock because there had been no word – sometimes you hear rumours but in this case there was nothing,” he said, “Consequently it was a first for me because I’ve never been to a club where the manager has announced during the season that he is leaving at the end of it. I was with North Shields when Ian (Skinner) took over at Woodhorn Lane in 2019. Ashington have always been a good club with a good fan base but as an outsider looking in, they were languishing a little bit. To have to play them at that time wasn’t a game which you would pick out as them being a championship rival or a FA Vase rival. However Ian brought together a real group of good young lads and he has nurtured them. A lot of them are on the cusp – being around the 25/26 years of age mark – and as the cycle of football goes, they need to step up now and become the experienced heads for the youngsters.”

He continued: “I’m equally as gutted as everyone else that Ian is leaving because he took a punt on me. As a 40 year old, I came in just to help out for one game here and there. But Ian has given me an opportunity to prove to myself and others than I’m still actually fit enough and good enough to play at this level so for that I’ll be forever grateful to him.”

Ashington have six league games remaining which begin with an away trip to face Carlton Town on Saturday. Then on Tuesday night (April 9), the Colliers face a semi final clash at home to Newcastle United U21’s in the Newcastle Flooring Northumberland Senior Cup – with Ormston adding that there will be no let up: “You want to win every game you go into so there’ll be no foot taken off the gas from us,” he said.