Author: Gav Perry

SHOTTON: “BEING CHAIRMAN AT ASHINGTON IS THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGEI’VE EVER DONE”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington Football Club’s Brian Shotton compèred the awards presentation evening at the Woodhorn Lane based outfit on Saturday night which brought the curtain down on

another campaign.

The chairman then enjoyed a few minutes relaxation where he reflected on the progress which the club has made under his four year tenure and revealed it is the toughest challenge he has ever done: “I’m delighted with the way things are going and the club is definitely moving in the right direction,” he said, “but its been tough and is the toughest challenge I’ve ever done. I initially said the club didn’t want to stand still – it wanted to move forward and we initially stabilised things and are now certainly moving forward.

The increase in support is unbelievable and very important to us because our average attendance at matches has gone up to around the 425 mark but we cannot stand still. I would love to see an increase on that next year and additional sponsors come on board as it’s the only way we can push on. We are a club which operates from its income – unlike some others who have benefactors. So in order to make progress, support from the stands and local business community is vital.”

He continued: “When we came on board at the club including Ian Skinner who is now manager – we were averaging crowds of around 200. The club was moving along slowly and in the doldrums as such. And it’s a sign of the progress made that we’ve just won our first trophy in nine years with the Ebac Northern League’s Division One Cup and the lads have played some really good entertaining football.” He went on: “You’ve got to build things organically because the last thing any football club wants – and especially this football club – is to be unable to fulfil its financial commitments. We can undoubtedly push on – but we need to be realistic, steady and sensible.”

SUMMERLY: “TO SAY I’M DELIGHTED IS A HUGE UNDERSTATEMENT”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Jordan Summerly could not hide his joy after being chosen as the management Player of the Season at the presentation awards ceremony on Saturday.

And – fingers crossed – the North Shields-born defender is looking to maintain a clean bill of health on the injury front and hoping that he can now put a nightmare two years firmly behind him after being sidelined with a knee injury.

He said: “Because of problems with my knee, I hadn’t played in ages and didn’t sign for anyone until the start of last season – and even then I reckon Ashington manager Ian Skinner probably took a punt on me and didn’t think he’d get many games out of me. But thankfully I played loads and cannot believe it. I’m so happy because I thought I would play a few weeks and my knee would go again then I’d have to have an operation and face another year out and look to the next season – but touch wood, I haven’t had any problems.”

Whitley Bay-based Summerly – who announced he is staying with the Colliers – continued: “The award is the icing on the cake and to say I’m delighted is a huge understatement. I didn’t think I was in contention to be honest until I spoke to the manager (Ian Skinner) on the phone the other day and we were looking ahead to next season – and he was saying ‘you were excellent last term considering we weren’t expecting you to play as much.’ I’d had two years of knee injuries so I didn’t expect to play as often either. I honestly thought after a couple of months my knee would ‘go’ and I would have to have an operation. However thankfully me knee was all right all through last season and I played most of the games.”

The 25 year old added: “I was at North Shields for a long time and I loved that club. I never thought I would like a club as much but everybody at Ashington are so welcoming and the set up is unreal. I get on with all of the lads and I’ve never been in a dressing room where the team spirit is so good.”

He went on: “I’m very happy about staying here next season. Maybes we need to add a couple of players for strength and depth but there’s no reason why we can’t go on and win the league as well as having a good run in the FA Vase.” Manager Ian Skinner said: “We brought Jordan in at the start of the season. We knew what he was capable of producing on a regular basis but we also knew he had missed the last two years with a serious knee injury. To be honest, we weren’t sure how much football we would get out of him – and he wasn’t either – but Jordan played in 98 per cent of the games last season. He was a pretty consistent performer and I can’t think of too many disappointing games he had – or games where he has been disappointed with his own performance – so all credit to him.”

SAMPSON: “IT’S GOOD TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE APPRECIATED BY THE FANS”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington Football Club’s Ben Sampson was delighted on Saturday night after being named as the supporters Player of the Year.

The versatile Sampson – who played for his hometown club at full back or centre midfield – said afterwards: “It came as a bit of a surprise really but I’m very pleased. I think it’s a good award to win because it’s nice to know that you are appreciated by the fans and I thank them for voting for me. It’s a pleasure to play for the team and we have got a really good group of lads here so much so that I thought there were a lot of players who could have won it. It was a genuinely competitive field – shown by different players winning the various awards.

The 23 year old, who is based in Morpeth, continued: “I was happy throughout the season. I thought I played consistently and well and when Liam Doyle came into the side at full back, it allowed me to play centre midfield which I enjoy more.”

He went on: “I’m staying with the club next year and I think we can massively push on. We maybes need a few additions here and there but as long as we keep all the lads we’ve already got, there’s no reason why we can’t kick on and win the league next year.”

Manager Ian Skinner said: “Ben has been Mr Consistent throughout the season in both positions he has been asked to play whether it be at right back or centre midfield. He’s been a regular performer in the team and has been accomplished in both positions.”

Ian Reid who has been chairman of the Ashington supporters club for around 14 years said: “Ben was worthy of the award. He is a very consistent and popular player who just gets on with his job and I can’t remember him having a poor game last term.”

Mr Reid revealed that the fan base has doubled over the past year and makes no secret of the fact that the supporters dubbed Ian Skinner’s side ‘The entertainers’ during last season’s exploits. The club finished eighth in the first division and won silverware for the first time in nine years after winning the Ebac Northern League Division One Cup with a 4-1 victory over Newcastle Benfield and Mr Reid added: “I started supporting the club in 1963 and last season was the most entertaining I’ve seen after we scored 112 goals in all competitions. When we won promotion from the second division of the Northern League in 1999 under Cec Irwin’s management, we netted 90 plus goals – but last season was just fabulous to watch.”

2022/23 ENTRY PRICES ANNOUNCED

Ashington AFC can confirm Matchday Entry prices for the 2022/23 season.

As always we will be offering advanced ticket sales at a cheaper price which can be bought online at our ticketing website.

Matchday Entry Prices (at the turnstile)

£8.00 Adults

£4.00 Concessions (aged 65 and over, Under 16 or Students)

Advanced Entry Prices (on sale until midday Saturday games and 5pm Midweek games)

£7.00 Adults

£3.00 Concessions (aged 65 and over, Under 16 or Students)

Chairman Brian Shotton said “We have reluctantly increased our admission prices which are now in line with a lot of other Northern League clubs – for at least a decade we kept our prices the same which were much lower than the average across the division. Whilst it is always tough to ask paying spectators to pay more, we are like any other business where our operating costs have increased significantly in the last twelve months. We still believe we offer great value for money having seen 103 goals in all competitions at Woodhorn Lane (thankfully the majority of them in our favour) and offer some of the best spectator facilities in the league – which again come at a significant cost to maintain”

“We are offering fantastically valued season tickets with early bird pricing for both Adults, Concessions and Under 16’s saving money on turnstile and advanced prices. We want to really push this club forward and off the back of our cup win this is the perfect time to do it, with your continued support we will achieve this much quicker.”

BRIGGS: “THAT GOAL IS PROBABLY THE BEST I’VE EVER SCORED”

By Brian Bennett

Dean Briggs picked up two trophies on Saturday night – as top goal scorer as well as goal of the season – at Ashington Football Club’s presentation evening.

And afterwards, the midfielder admitted that his stunning effort from close to the half way line in the 4-4 draw at Consett ranks as being one of his best ever!

“I was pretty confident that the goal at Consett was going to be goal of the season,” he said, “It’s got to be up there as being one of my best strikes and probably the best goal I’ve ever scored. It has to be. And I meant it as well. It was just instinct and touch – and to be honest, it was the touch which probably made the goal. I then had a quick look up, saw the ‘keeper off his line and went for it.”

Wideopen-born Briggs left during the campaign to explore a career move which unfortunately didn’t work out – and which he says effectively cost him being the Ebac Northern League’s top goal scorer: “I was really pleased with the form I was in before I went away,” he commented, “When I returned, I didn’t score for eight or nine games and ended up with 19 league goals. If I hadn’t left, I think I would have been right up there at the top of the charts.”

The 26 year old reckons Ashington could be knocking on the promotion door next season: “I think most of the lads are staying which is great because we have got a good side,” he said, “But I think we just need to bring in a couple of players with a bit of experience and if we do, then I think we’ll be right up there next term.” Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner said: “Dean emerging as our top goal scorer reflects his early season form where he was unplayable at times as when he netted all four goals in our 4-2 away win at Newton Aycliffe. He went away on a career move but when he came back it took him a little while to re-adjust – but then he finished the season in red hot form. He scored the goal of the season at Consett and also notched a couple of important goals for us as well. The awards he got were really merited and deserved and I’m pleased for him.”

HARMISON: “IT’S NICE TO GET RECOGNITION FROM YOUR FELLOW PLAYERS”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC skipper Ben Harmison spoke of his ‘surprise’ – after he scooped the ‘Players Player of the season’ award at the club’s presentation night which was held in the Woodhorn Lane function suite on Saturday.

The 36 year old was unable to attend the event but said: “I received the news via a message from manager Ian Skinner – and it came as a surprise. However I’m over the moon to be honest. It’s nice to win something and with the Player’s player award it is recognition from your fellow players after having a good season with them.”

Manager Skinner said: “Sometimes with end of season presentations you see that one player tends to scoop the majority of the awards – but tonight ours are spread and I think that reflects the season we’ve had where we have had a number of consistent performers.”

He continued: “Obviously the players’ player trophy is the one which players really look too because it is their team mates who have voted – and that’s gone to Ben Harmison tonight. I don’t think its any secret what Ben brings to the team at both ends of the pitch – and not only on the pitch but off it as well. He obviously has the experience and has played higher up the pyramid and in a sporting context having been a professional sports person, he knows what it takes to ‘get the job done.’

At the beginning of this month, Harmison was the proud captain who held aloft the Ebac Northern League’s Division One Cup after the Colliers had clinched a 4-1 victory over Newcastle Benfield at North Shields’ Daren Persson Stadium which brought the Wansbeck side their first piece of silverware for nine years. Ashington will also have the chance to defend the trophy after the ENL announced at the weekend that due to the increased number of teams in the second division, they will run with a Division One Cup and the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup (which is for second division clubs) next season.

KALTHOEBER: “I WAS BLOWN AWAY WHEN I FOUND OUT I WAS PLAYING”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC defender Thomas Kalthoeber said he was ‘blown away’ when he found out an hour before kick off that he was in the Colliers starting line up for their Ebac Northern League Division One Cup final showdown against Newcastle Benfield on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Wansbeck side convincingly won the clash 4-1 – but Kalthoeber admitted to being taken aback: “I wasn’t expecting to be in the team,” he said afterwards, “I thought I was going to make the bench – so it was a nice surprise.”

Not once but twice, Kalthoeber’s season appeared to be over after he picked up serious injuries but the Newcastle-born defender never gave up hope of the Wansbeck outfit progressing to the final.

In matches barely a month apart against Thornaby, the 20 year old was in agony with separate injuries. In the DOC clash, Kalthoeber made a game changing tackle towards the end to prevent an equaliser – but suffered a hamstring tear.

He made strenuous efforts to recover – so much so that he played against the Teessiders in the league match at The dwmedia Stadium on April 9 – only to be forced off with a shoulder problem.

Again it was thought his campaign would be curtailed. However, less than a week before the grand final of the DOC, Kalthoeber – who is based in Longbenton – returned to training: “I felt fine although I could still feel my shoulder,” he said, “I was putting ice on it and I was desperate to be involved in the final.”

Kalthoeber – who wore the number five shirt against Benfield – continued: “I was a bit shaky for the first five to ten minutes but as soon as I got a touch on the ball I felt comfortable – and I was really confident that we would go on and win. We made the perfect start by scoring because it put them (Benfield) under pressure straight away and I thought ‘this is it.’ To win was just amazing and I’m buzzing. To be honest I wish the campaign was starting now – so I’ll be raring to go pre season.” It was triple success for Kalthoeber over the weekend too. “It’s been good,” he said, “I’ve lifted three trophies in two days. I won the league and league cup with Newcastle Eastend 23’s and then the DOC with Ashington today.”

ROBINSON: “THE LAST TIME ASHINGTON WON A TROPHY, I PLAYED AGAINST THEM!”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Winning trophies is nothing new to Paul Robinson. After all, the stylish midfielder has his own collection of medals and treasured memories.

In an outstanding spell with Ebac Northern League outfit Whitley Bay he not only won the FA Vase with them once or twice at Wembley Stadium but on three occasions – and in consecutive years too. And just to put the icing on the cake, ‘Robbo’ – as he is nicknamed – also scored under the arch in the Seahorses 6-1 Vase final triumph in 2010 over Wroxham.

On Bank Holiday Monday, Robinson was again a scorer and a winner as he put Ashington on the path to victory with a goal inside the first minute of their ENL Division One Cup final against Newcastle Benfield. Ten minutes into the second half, he notched a second with a sumptuous right footer from the edge of the penalty area. His side ran out comfortable victors by a 4-1 margin.

It was Ashington’s first piece of silverware for nine years. The last occasion the Colliers picked up a trophy was after their 3-0 Northumberland Senior Cup victory over Whitley Bay at St James’ Park in 2013. Ironically ‘Robbo’ witnessed the game at close quarters. He was captain of the coast outfit and admitted that Ashington won the game comfortably.

Based in Seaton Delaval, Robinson has worn the colours of Ashington for two and a half years and was clearly delighted to help them arrest a barren run: “Ashington are a great club with great people and have a great set of lads,” he said, “I love playing for them and to win the cup on Monday was a nice way to finish the season. I’m over the moon for Ian Skinner – who is brilliant man as well as being a brilliant manager – and for all the workers behind the scenes. People don’t necessarily see the amount of work which goes on in the background so winning the cup was brilliant for them as well.”

North Shields-born Robinson – a football coach for Pro direct academy – set the ball rolling too: “The pitch was nice because it had a bit of zip on it so we could play and it was just one of those games where a lot of things I tried came off,” he said, “I kept the ball well and obviously scoring after 32 seconds helps everyone’s confidence.”

The 37 year old – 38 at the end of this month – had to find top gear very quickly: “The ball broke to Lewis (Suddick) and I put my head down and tried to run as fast as I could just to get in the box,” he added, “Lewis then played it across and like I have said about the zip on the pitch, there wasn’t any bobble and it was just a case of getting a good clean connection and putting the ball in the net.”

Robinson – happy with his own performance on the day – continued: “The second goal was nice and was another excellent pass from Ben Sampson. Sometimes Ben can fire the ball into me but he’s played it in nice and soft and all the weight was off (the ball) so again I just had to get a good connection, wrap my foot around it and I thought it was going in from the minute it left my foot. It was a great feeling and again, things like that have come off for me today so I’m really happy.” Robinson –- heaped praise on his team mates: “All the lads were brilliant today,” he said, “We played some good football and managed the game when we had too. We had also worked on a game plan with the manager earlier in the week. We had two top sessions and things turned out very well.”

HARMISON: “YOU CAN SEE WHAT THIS MEANS TO THE LADS AND THE FANS”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC won their first piece of silverware for nine years on Bank Holiday Monday when they clinched the Ebac Northern League’s Division One Cup after outclassing Newcastle Benfield at the Daren Persson Stadium in North Shields.

And afterwards delighted skipper Ben Harmison – who was presented with the cup by ENL president George Courtney – said the 4-1 victory should be a stepping stone towards future success.

Harmison said: “It was a massive win – and you can see what it means to all the lads and especially the fans. Their support was absolutely top notch and hopefully we’ve given them something to be happy and proud about. There have been a couple of coach loads of fans come through as well as those who have made the trip by other means of transport and it’s brilliant for them. It also shows how together the town is – and the lads and staff are just pleased we can put a smile on their faces.”

He continued: “I also thought the win was thoroughly merited because we played really well today and over the course of the season we have deserved some kind of silverware. Winning the cup is also for all the effort from the staff – manager Ian Skinner, Lee Anderson, Neil Cooper and Mark Ramsden as well as chairman Brian Shotton and all the volunteers for what they do behind the scenes.”

He went on: “I definitely think we can go on to better things next season. Winning today gives us that belief – this was the first trophy for the club for nine years and teams like Ashington should be associated with silverware more often. The togetherness we have got, this should be a stepping stone for us to push on next year and try to win more – like promotion and to have an extended run in the FA Vase and all of the other cups.”

Reflecting on the game – played in front of a bumper crowd of 805 – Harmison said: “Everything went according to plan. We knew how they (Benfield) were going to set up and we wanted to hit them in the wide areas – which we did. We attacked with pace and energy and ‘Robbo’ – Paul Robinson – arrived at the back post and put the ball away for our first goal and then we got a second. We probably took our foot off the gas a little bit and didn’t show enough energy for 10-15 minutes but then second half we kept the ball and dominated and I think we could have scored five or six.” Harmison added: “Everyone is happy and that comes from the hard work on and off the pitch from the lads in the club. It’s great to get a trophy – and it was about time we brought nine years without silverware to an end.”

SKINNER: “I CAN’T REMEMBER TOO MUCH ABOUT THE GAME TO BE HONEST”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner was wrapped up in a whirlwind of emotions as the Woodhorn Lane outfit picked up their first piece of silverware for nine years after winning the Ebac Northern League Division One Cup on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Colliers took the lead through Paul Robinson after only 32 seconds and emphatically brushed Newcastle Benfield aside, romping to a 4-1 victory at the Daren Persson Stadium in North Shields.

And afterwards Skinner said: “To be truthful, I can’t remember too much of the game so it’ll be one which I’ll take great pleasure watching back! We wanted to start brightly and couldn’t have asked for anything better than by taking the lead in the first minute. It was strange because I thought it (the goal) would settle us down – but to be honest, we looked a little bit nervous after that. We scored a second (goal) and I thought we were relatively comfortable in the first half – certainly I cannot remember our goalkeeper Adam McHugh having to make any saves.”

He continued: “Second half we expected Benfield to have a bit of a go. They changed their system a little bit but that played into our hands slightly in terms of they left spaces down the sides and we exploited that and managed to get a third goal. Then Benfield scored and you think ‘oh here’s Ashington doing Ashington things’ but the fact that we hit back with a fourth a couple of minutes later settled us down and I think any lift Benfield would have got after pulling one back to make it 3-1 and thinking ‘we’ve got a chance’ was suddenly taken away from them with our fourth goal probably knocking the stuffing out of them.” He went on: “I was quietly confident that if we played to the levels we are capable of – and we have shown that on our day we can beat anyone– we would get the right result and I don’t think anybody can have any arguments that the best team won. We also knew our fans would back us and generate noise which is great – and it was terrific to celebrate with them at the end.”