By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC head coaches Andy Coyles and Richie Hill were delighted last week after three midfielders – Karl Ross, Craig Spooner and Ben Sampson – committed their immediate futures to the club for the upcoming season.

Coyles said: “We are chuffed to bits to secure the three lads who have been a part of Ashington for a number of years. Karl Ross has been at the club for five years and has been through it all and its good having someone like that on board. He is able to share those past experiences with the other players so that they understand and appreciate where the club once were to where it is now. Karl has been unbelievable in the short period of time I have been at the club. He’s a proper grafter and a real hard honest working lad and when he took over the captaincy last season, he led by example – everything you want in an Ashington footballer.”

On Spooner, Coyles said: “It’s a similar message. Craig is an absolute gentleman who is hard working and who has got the club’s best interest at heart. He needs some recognition this year because when we didn’t have a right back for a large part of the last campaign, we had to sacrifice Craig in his preferred role as a number ten. He dropped in at right back and it wasn’t a coincidence that when we turned a corner and started to pick up a number of results last season, it was when he went in at right wing back because Craig was able to add that little bit of quality and a bit of finesse.”

On Sampson, Coyles said: “Ben is Mr Reliable who is an absolute gentleman. He works just as hard off the pitch as he does on it. He’s always willing to learn and always wants to better himself and we’re delighted that he has agreed to stay on for another year.”

The trio – who are all aged 25 – gave their reaction.

Ross said: “I’m starting my sixth year with the club and as far as I was concerned it was a no brainer for me to stay – I wouldn’t really think about going anywhere else to be honest. I’ve loved every minute of my time here and I was happy to continue with Andy (Coyles) and Richie (Hill) taking over as joint head coaches. They have been unbelievable – both for me personally as well as for the group – and we’re all buzzing that they took the job on.”

Spooner said: “The club and the fans are great and so for me – like Karl Ross – it was a no brainer especially with Andy and Richie getting the job. I think I can work well under them whilst I’ve also known Gaz Ormston – who is a player at the club as well as being part of the management team – for years. Gaz is an outstanding figure to have both on and off the pitch because of his knowledge and experience.”

Sampson said: “I’m delighted to be with the club again this year especially with the fans, the backroom staff and the players. It’s a great atmosphere in the changing rooms and we’re a good side on the pitch as well. In terms of league position, we probably didn’t finish where we should have done last season but I think we can kick on and do really well. Where Ashington were when I first signed for them five years ago and where the club are now is unbelievable. We’re on a great upward trajectory and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Coyles concluded: “Ross, Spooner and Sampson are three local boys who all live and breathe Ashington Football Club – and you cannot ask for any more than that.”