Author: Gav Perry


By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner has set the bar high as he prepares to embark on a new challenge in the Northern Premier League East Division following promotion from the Ebac Northern League last term.

Newton Aycliffe secured their place in the NPL by going up as champions from the ENL whilst the Colliers – who finished as league runners up – comfortably defeated Glossop North End 3-0 in their Inter Step play off in Derbyshire.

Speaking on the North East Non-League Show with James Raine last week, the Ashington boss said that the Woodhorn Lane based club were not merely going to make the numbers up in the NPL – and even talked about them trying to ‘sneak’ into a play off position come the end of the season.

Skinner said: “We are not going into the next league above (NPL) to make the numbers up. I am talking about play offs if I can or certainly when we get to the business end of the season making sure we are in with a shout of potentially getting into the play offs or at least giving ourselves a chance to see if we can sneak into them. Will that be easy? No. It’ll be a real tough test because you will have five, six, seven or eight very, very strong dominant clubs in the league next year. However, I believe if we can put the squad together with the right make up that we are looking for, then on our day we will be able to give people a game and be competitive and come the latter part of the stages to be in with a shout of maybes trying to sneak into a play off spot – and sneak in would probably be the right words.”

Skinner added that journeys on the road would see Ashington’s mileage increase from 1800 in the ENL to around 4,500 in the NPL.


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

At Ashington Football Club, Alan Brown goes about his business in a calm, quiet manner and makes no fuss – and in the eyes of the Woodhorn Lane outfit, he is an unsung hero.

Unexpectedly the spotlight fell on Alan when he was presented with the Colliers’ club Person of the Year award recently – which left the logistics manager gobsmacked: “I had no idea about it and consequently the announcement came as a complete surprise,” he said, “I think the last time I got an award was around 25 years ago when I was secretary of the Ashington Comrades Football team when they played in the Morpeth Sunday League! I’m an Ashington lad who unfortunately never ever got to play for Ashington FC but I’ve always wanted to be involved and to make a contribution. I’m sure a lot of people think that running a football club like this you are at the ground all of the time but 99 per cent of it is voluntary. We give up our time because we enjoy it – and I’m just pleased to be a part of it.”

He continued: “Obviously it’s been a terrific season and the craic in the dressing room has been great. The club have certainly captivated the local public – they have done the town proud – and I’ve even had people who I don’t know asking me about our results.”

Ashington chairman Brian Shotton said: “I’m delighted for Alan. If anyone personifies what Ashington Football Club is about it is Alan Brown. Football clubs could not operate without its volunteers and Alan’s job can be thankless at times. It’s not just the kitman role though, it’s the jobs many don’t see Alan doing around the place. We’re a small but very committed team at Ashington and I think the effort put in is reflected in results of the club’s improvement in recent years.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Defensive lynchpin Darren Lough was taken aback when he was informed that he had won the ‘Management player of the season’ at Ashington Football Club last week.

Lough – who was unable to attend the presentation night – said: “The news came as a complete surprise. The full squad played well throughout the season including our fabulous run in the Emirates FA Cup then clinching promotion to the Northern Premier League – so overall it was a great campaign.”

However there was an unfortunate twist when in the closing minutes of Ashington’s final Ebac Northern League first division clash of the season at Bishop Auckland, the 33 year old was forced off the field after sustaining a broken nose.

The Colliers had gone into the contest knowing that a draw would see them finish as league runners up and take them into the Inter step play off final – and at the time of Lough’s injury, the scores were locked at 1-1: “I knew straight away it was broken,” said Lough, “It was frustrating because I knew if we saw the game out that we would be through.”

The Colliers duly got the result before they found out that they were pitched to play Glossop North End in Derbyshire the following Saturday – but Morpeth-based Lough was a non starter: “To be honest my nose didn’t feel too sore at the time,” he said, “In the end I had to wait two weeks to have it reset. Now it’s a case of being on the road to recovery.”

Ashington-born Lough kept a close eye on his team’s progress at Glossop: “I followed the game online,” he said, “With the quality we’ve got, once we took the lead I thought we would go on to win it – and we did just that,” he said, “I was buzzing when the final whistle came and celebrated at home. There are a lot of people involved with Ashington Football Club – and I was delighted for everyone.”

Colliers boss Ian Skinner said: “I thought Darren deserved the Management player of the season award – he has been a big player for us this season. With Darren, what you see is what you get – 100 per cent commitment and effort. He wants to win every game we play whether it be on a Saturday or the little games at the end of training – and that’s just the competitive spirit which is in him. He doesn’t like to miss games but sat out a few last season firstly with a broken foot then a broken nose. If I’m honest, he’s a bit of a dying breed as I’m not sure you’ll get too many more Darren Lough’s because he’s old school and old fashioned – without making him sound older than he is – and just wants to stand and defend.”

He continued: “It was a big blow when we lost him at Bishop Auckland in the last minute and straight away my thoughts switched to the play off game but Ryan McKinnon had waited patiently and Robbie Dale had done fantastically well for us at centre back throughout the season and when I watched the videos of Glossop, even though Darren’s absence was a big loss, I was comfortable that if we played to the levels of which we were capable of, then the lads would get the job done – and they did just that.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

For Ashington FC chairman Brian Shotton, the reality has hit home that the Woodhorn Lane outfit have achieved promotion to the Northern Premier League.

However, it’s the remarkable change of fortunes and turnaround at the club which has left him in a state of disbelief. Speaking to a packed clubhouse at the presentation evening, Brian said: “When I took over as chairman in 2018, the club were in dire straits. The first person I got in contact with was Ian Skinner and he – like myself – has seen things flourish from where we were then to where we are now. Certainly if anyone had mentioned to me that in four years we would be promoted to the NPL, I would have laughed at them.  However I think that the achievement represents the hard work not just from us but also the backing we have received from the supporters, which has been top class.”

Ian Skinner remembers that phone call from the chairman and said: “I’m an Ashington lad who was asked to come and help his home town club – and what has developed in four years is quite astonishing. Earlier in the season, to have a crowd of over 1400 against Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Emirates FA Cup replay at Woodhorn Lane is what dreams are made of and on that night, my mind immediately switched back to the moment when Brian (Shotton) asked me to come back to the club.”

It’s approaching a fortnight since there were euphoric scenes following the Colliers’ 3-0 Inter Step play off win over Glossop North End in Derbyshire but promotion remains a blur for the manager: “I still don’t think promotion has sunk in if truth be know,” said Skinner, “This season I told the players that they were the best and challenged them and from the bottom of my heart, what they have done for the club and what they have achieved is unbelievable. They had been different class and I can’t thank them enough. As for the town, who came along and supported us, their backing has been phenomenal – and if someone had told me we would average gates of over 500 at home this past season I wouldn’t have believed them.”

Brian Shotton admits that stepping up a level into the East Division of the NPL will bring new challenges – but he is confident the club will succeed: “It’s not going to be easy,” he said, “We’ve got a lot of work to be done including ground work, despite the fact that people looking around our facilities think they are the best. We have found ways to do things over the last four years which has brought us to this point so we will continue to work towards our target. If you work hard enough you will always get your results and that is what has happened this season across the board from the team to the backroom staff, the committee members, the volunteers, supporters and bar staff – and we will continue to drive forward.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie


Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner has asked his squad of players to stay with him ‘on the journey’ as the Colliers prepare to compete in the Northern Premier League following their promotion on the final day of last season.

The boss delivered his heartfelt message at the club’s presentation evening in the clubhouse at the weekend. Addressing the players, he said: “All of the players have been magnificent this term and I want you all to stay on the journey that this football club is on because you deserve to be part of it for what you have achieved. This is a club with a lot of history. You have now written your names in that history and you should be super proud of it. You are one of the best teams I have ever had the pleasure of working with and I was quietly confident on that bus journey down to Glossop that if we turned up as a team then we would beat them (Glossop) – and we beat them comfortably.”

All of Ashington’s players received a personal memento from the Ebac Northern League for finishing as runners up to champions Newton Aycliffe.

The boss added that all of the players had been magnificent throughout the season and paid tribute to chairman Brian Shotton and his wife Nicola – along with others: “Thanks go to Brian Shotton who tries to make this football club the best it can be,” he said, “He puts loads of time and effort into it and deserves massive credit for that – but he couldn’t do it without the support of his wife Nicola. Credit also to Ian Reid the chairman of the supporters club; photographer Ian Brodie whose pictures have been top notch; Mark Ramsden; Gav Perry and Alan Brown.”

However Skinner said that the club needs the support from the fans ‘more than ever’ when he added: “Thanks to everybody who supports us on match days both home and away during the campaign but we need you now more than ever. It’s exciting to move up the pyramid and will it be easy? No. Will it be enjoyable? Yes. We are asking you (the supporters) to stick with us as we continue to fight hard to get to where we want to be because we can’t do this without you.”

To date the club have already sold over 80 season tickets for next season – their first in the NPL since the 1968-69 campaign.


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ben Sampson scooped a double at Ashington FC’s presentation evening which was held in the Woodhorn Lane clubhouse last Sunday.

The 24 year old won the ‘Goal of the Season’ award for his stunning long range effort in the 5-0 demolition over Bishop Auckland and followed that up when he was named as the ‘Supporters Player of the Season.’

Sampson said afterwards: “I thought my goal against Bishop Auckland would be in contention for the goal of the season but the supporters’ player award came as a complete surprise. It was a great feeling when I heard my name announced and the fans have been amazing. Year on year, the crowds have been getting better and especially this last campaign when apart from clinching promotion we had that fabulous run in the Emirates FA Cup.”

He continued: “Our squad is littered with so many good players and the trophy could have gone to any one of them – and that’s not an exaggeration. It’s been a pleasure to play alongside them including some of the best-ever non league players like Robbie Dale, Paul Robinson, Damen Mullen and Darren Lough but to be honest I could go through the whole squad really.”

Ian Reid, who has been chairman of the supporters club for ten years, said: “There were probably over 100 people who voted and Ben won by quite a large amount. I personally thought it was a good choice because he was consistent all season whether he played in midfield or at full back and the lad gives 100 per cent every time.”

Pegswood-based Sampson first signed for the Colliers at the age of 17. He later joined North Shields and then didn’t play when he was at University. It was November 5 last year when Sampson scored a cracker against Bishop Auckland and he said: “I don’t get many – I had two in the season just ended. One was from about two yards out in the FA Cup replay win over Stocksbridge Park Steels – the other was from about 42 yards out against Bishops – but again it was nice to be nominated.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC’s Craig Spooner won the prestigious Players Player of the season award on Sunday night when the Colliers held their promotion party in the clubhouse.

A comprehensive 3-0 win over Glossop North End in Derbyshire in the Inter step play off saw the Wansbeck outfit elevated from the Ebac Northern League first division to the NPL East Division.

Spooner pointed to what he described as being ‘an incredible season’ and said from a personal point of view, the trophy was the icing on the cake.

“This is the first time in senior football that I’ve won the award and it’s a great feeling,” he said, “It’s been an incredible season for the club and to get this (award) off the lads is one of the better things which I’ve won in my career so far. I said after we clinched promotion down in Glossop that it was my biggest achievement – and this tops it off. It’s great recognition for the hard work which I have put in – but credit to all of the players.  Any one of them could have won it because they have all been fantastic.”

The news came as a complete shock to the 24 year old: “Did I think I would be in the running? Not a chance,” he added, “I gave 110 per cent in every game and obviously what I did has paid off. To say I’m well chuffed is an understatement.”

Ashington boss Ian Skinner said: “It was a good choice. Craig has been both Mr Consistent and Mr Versatile for us this season. He’s filled in at left back; right back; played across the midfield; as a number ten and come up with some important goals as well. What you see is what you get with Craig. He trains well and plays with his heart on his sleeve and gives everything he has got for the club and I’m delighted for him to be recognised for what he has done.”

He continued: “It’s a well known saying in football that the Player’s Player award is the one which every footballer wants to win because the voting is done by their fellow team mates. After the season we have had, if the award could have been shared out, it would have acknowledged the contribution from everybody but Craig’s team mates have recognised that little bit extra which he has given. Congratulations to him – he should be feeling very proud.”

Matchday entry prices 2023/24

Ashington AFC can confirm Matchday Entry prices for the 2023/24 season – the first back in the Northern Premier League for 54 years.

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)
£9.00 Adults
£5.00 Concessions (aged 65 and over and Students)
£3.00 Under 16s

Advanced Entry Prices (on sale until 1.30pm Saturday games and 5.00pm Midweek games)
£8.00 Adults
£4.00 Concessions (aged 65 and over and Students)
£3.00 Under 16s

Chairman Brian Shotton “Following the wonderfully successful season we have had culminating in promotion to the Northern Premier League we have increased our admission prices by £1 across the board. Whilst it is always tough to ask spectators to pay more, the clubs costs will rise significantly in the higher league including vital ground improvements and travel – but we know the public of Ashington will support our campaign. We are embarking on an exciting new chapter in the clubs history and we hope as many come along on the journey as possible”

“We are once again offering fantastically valued season tickets with early bird pricing for Adults, Concessions and Under 16s saving nearly a 1/3 on turnstile prices. These are available until the end of June”

Early Bird Season Ticket Pricing

Adult £120.00
Concession (65 and over and Students) £65.00
Under 16s £25.00

These are available at our ticketing website here:


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Rachel McDonald (17th Sept 2022)

Ashington FC chairman Brian Shotton took it all in, soaking up the emotional and ecstatic scenes which followed after the final whistle on Saturday as the Colliers clinched promotion to the Northern Premier League East Division.

The Colliers had comprehensively swept NPL West Division outfit Glossop North End aside on their home patch winning the Inter Step play off game 3-0 with goals coming from skipper Ben Harmison (2) and Craig Spooner.

Under his astute leadership and guidance, Brian – who took over the reins as chairman four years ago – has totally transformed the club which has moved in an upwards direction ever since.

On the pitch, Ian Skinner, who came in as manager and who does the job on a voluntary basis, has also worked wonders.

There are others too who have diligently worked their socks off behind the scenes and Skinner made reference to individuals and volunteers who give up numerous hours like Gav Perry, Brian Robson and Alan Brown.

Turning the clock back a few years, Ashington were desperately looking for points to survive in the first division of the Ebac Northern League.

At around 4.50pm in Derbyshire on Saturday their elevation into the NPL was not only confirmed but thoroughly deserved – and it was the culmination of sheer hard work.

For messrs Shotton, Skinner, Perry, Robson and Brown – as well as the wonderful supporters – when the final whistle came on Saturday, there were understandably tears of joy along with fist bumps and high-fives.

But there were also tears shed as collectively they tried to put into context just how their club had risen to scale new heights and in doing so, bridge a 55 years gap since the club were last in the NPL.

“Promotion has sunk in,” said Brian afterwards, “but its one of those where everything goes through your head today. You look at what has happened this season – like the FA Cup run we had and various junctures where we thought promotion had gone, come back then gone again. Today the players have just been magnificent and what a way to end the season for everyone – its unreal.”

He continued: “At times I’m lost for words and I always admit that I’m an emotional person. I’m not upset – but I was in tears today because this club has just come on such a journey in such a quick time frame – and I can’t quite believe it if I’m honest. I keep saying to everyone that the hard work starts now because we have got to be better – including myself – and we will be.”


By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC goalkeeper Karl Dryden described the Colliers promotion success via their Inter step play off match against Glossop North End as being on a par with winning the league.

The 35 year old stopper – who was a member of the Dunston UTS side who clinched the Ebac Northern League championship in the 2018-19 season – said after the Woodhorn Lane outfit had triumphed 3-0 against the Hillmen on Saturday: “It’s a great feeling and the changing room is buzzing. We’ve achieved what we set out to do at the beginning of the season. We definitely deserved to win today and once we got the second goal I thought the result was never in any doubt. However, this is reward for the whole season. On reflection, we would have taken the FA Cup run – it’s just a shame we needed to play catch up having to win our league games in hand and trying to put the points on the board.”

The Ashington-born stopper – who also has an FA Vase winners medal after playing for Morpeth Town in their 4-1 victory over Hereford at Wembley Stadium in 2016 – was delighted with a stop he made ten minutes from time: “It was a reaction save,” he said “I was happy with it and also a clean sheet which is what we have been trying to do all season. I’ve got the same feeling today going up via the play off final with Ashington as I had with Dunston because you’re winning something. Now we’ve got the new league to look forward to.”