By Brian Bennett

Goalkeeper Dan Staples has returned to Ashington – five years after making his debut for the Woodhorn Lane based outfit.

The 33 year old played for the Colliers during the 2019/20 season when he was commuting for Carlisle and it was the gruelling travel which was his reason for leaving and joining Penrith ironically when Andy Coyles – Ashington’s new joint head coach – was manager of the Bonny Blues.

Newcastle-born Staples has been with Northern Premier League East Division outfit Dunston UTS for the past two terms. However, as he explained, his season last year was curtailed just as UTS were mounting a promotion bid: “Injury took its toll as I dislocated my shoulder in March against Carlton so I missed out on the run in,” he said, “Dunston had a great season just missing out on promotion through the play offs and they couldn’t have got any closer to be honest, losing to Stockton Town after a penalty shootout.”

Speaking about coming back to the Ashington, Staples who is based in Cramlington said: “I know the majority of the people who are in the background at the club who don’t get enough credit for what they do. The club is only going one way and I would like to be part of it. In my eyes it’s a new adventure and a new challenge.”

Ashington FC’s joint head coach Andy Coyles said: “Obviously Dan is a big profile name on the non league circuit. He’s had two fantastic years at Dunston and was their number one ‘keeper last season until he picked up an injury. When I was manager of Penrith, I brought him to the club after he relocated to Cumbria and we had a really good working relationship and I’d like to think we can rekindle that this year – but this time round with him wearing an Ashington shirt!”

He continued: “We are delighted to get him on board. Dan has a number of assets that we feel will contribute to the team and to the club. He’s a leader and a communicator both on the pitch but also in the changing room. He demands perfection from everybody including himself but is also critical of himself whenever his performances aren’t up to scratch – and that’s what you need in a player especially if you’re going to kick on. Dan will compete with Ross Coombe – they will be working side by side with new goalkeeping coach Lee Barrass and hopefully the three of them can have a really good working relationship which can blossom over the coming months.”