Author: Gav Perry

TUNSTALL: “I FEEL VERY PRIVILAGED TO COME TO ASHINGTON”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC joint head coaches Andy Coyles and Richie Hill have made another summer swoop after signing Jamie Tunstall to bolster their management team.

Darlington-born Tunstall – who has a wealth of experience after managing several clubs in the Ebac Northern League – said he is excited and feels ‘very privileged’ to link up with the Woodhorn Lane based outfit.

Hill said: “Jamie and I go back quite a long time. I’ve worked with him previously at Crook Town and he’s been a former manager of Shildon, Crook, Thornaby and more recently Northallerton Town. He’s unbelievable with his intelligence of North East football and beyond and there’s not a player who he doesn’t know – so he will be very good in that regard with recruitment. He’s also a qualified coach and we see things in the same way.”

Hill continued: “Jamie was very excited at coming on board at such a big club with so much potential and in the short space of time he’s been with us he’s already been really, really helpful. He’s given us information on players that we had as targets and I think he’ll be an excellent addition to the management team. He’s very professional and he’ll certainly buy into our DNA and the way in which we want things to be done. He’ll be very much involved in pre season training; at the heart of pre match warm ups; watching the games back on veo and reporting back to us on the things we did well and also the things which we didn’t do well.”

Tunstall joins the set up at Ashington after leaving behind ‘a great club’ in Northallerton where he will forever have fond memories: “Northallerton are a great club – a club where I spent most of my career as a player so I’ve got a really good connection with them,” he said. The 38 year old added: “However, I feel very privileged to come to a club of this size and to be involved with Andy (Coyles) and Richie (Hill). I know what ambitions Ashington have got especially under the management team which are in place and I know that they want to try and push the club forward as much as they can – and that’s exciting for me.”

STAPLES: “THIS CLUB IS ONLY GOING ONE WAY AND I WOULD LIKE TO BE PART OF IT”

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.”

BARRASS JOINS AS GOALKEEPING COACH

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC joint head coaches Andy Coyles and Richie Hill have added to their back room staff with the appointment of Lee Barrass as goalkeeping coach.

Coyles said: “Lee has got a good background within the non league circuit. He has worked at all levels in the game in and around the North East and he’s got a fantastic reputation. It’s certainly an area on a coaching front that we have lacked and it’s another area we are looking to improve and develop.”

He continued: “Lee is going to be working quite closely with goalkeepers Dan Staples and Ross Coombe and it helps that they know each other and have worked together in the past. We are really looking forward to Lee joining the management team and it’s another mild step in developing and progressing the squad.”

Barrass who operated in a similar role with West Auckland last season said: “I already know Dan (Staples) and Ross (Coombe) and the set up here at Ashington is really nice.  I live in Wallsend so it’s fairly local to me and I’m looking forward to meeting the team and for us to be one big unit.”

The 46 year old was previously at Bishop Auckland for a period of five years and also served Blyth Spartans and Darlington as goalkeeping coach in the National League North. He added: “I’ve got nearly 20 years of experience behind me as a ‘keeper and I can’t wait to get started.”

THOMSON: “AS SOON AS ANDY AND RICHIE APPROACHED ME, IT WAS A NO BRAINER”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Ashington FC signed their number one priority target last week according to joint head coach Richie Hill when Connor Thomson put pen to paper on a contract at Woodhorn Lane.

Last season the striker spent the best part of six months with the Colliers on loan from neighbours Morpeth Town and not only made an immediate impact scoring a brace on his debut in the 4-0 win at Winterton Rangers but also endeared himself to the club’s supporters.

“When Ashington came in to take me on loan last season, I wanted to take that chance straight away,” he added, “I just wanted to get out and play some games and see what happened but I fell in love with the club and it helped me massively. I played well; I did well for the team and scored goals – which is exactly what you want to do when you are a striker. I also made a few assists and contributed to the team in any way I could.” The 28 year old netted17 goals in his spell – which saw him lift the trophy for the top goalscoring award at the end of season presentations.

Thomson’s contract with the Highwaymen came to an end recently and he said it was a ‘no brainer’ to sign on a permanent basis for the Colliers: “I’m buzzing,” he said, “When the club announced that Andy (Coyles) and Richie (Hill) were staying on as the gaffers it was a big factor for me because of how well I get on with them as well as the lads at the club. As soon as Andy and Richie approached me about a contract it was a no brainer because I wanted to stay and I enjoy playing here. The atmosphere is always good especially at this level; the club have got an excellent fan base and I can’t wait for the new season to start.”

Whilst Newcastle-born Thomson finished top of the pile in the goal scoring charts, his striking partner Wilson Kneeshaw finished one behind – the pair plundering 33 goals between them.

Kneeshaw announced his commitment to the club last week and Thomson added: “The news about Wilson staying played a big part too because it’s rare to gel with someone so well and Wilson and I get on just as well off the pitch as we do on it. We know we have got the connection to kick on again this season and to score even more goals.”

Joint head coach Richie Hill said: “We’re over the moon to get the deal done. When Andy and myself got the job, the first thing we did was to look at the current squad as to who we wanted to keep as well as players who we wanted to bring to the club – and Connor was right up there as our number one priority. When he came to us last year, he fitted into the changing room so well. It was also at a time when we were struggling for results and he rewarded us with some much needed goals. Connor had to be our chief target and to get him over the line – knowing full well that there were lots of other clubs interested in him and actually talking to him – is a massive coup for the club and consequently we’re absolutely delighted. He was a popular figure not just in the changing room but also with the management team and the supporters so I’m hoping he’ll hit the ground running at the beginning of the new campaign and score those goals which we need.”

KNEESHAW: “FANS PLAYED SUCH A BIG PART IN ME WANTING TO STAY”

By Brian Bennett | Photo: Ian Brodie

Wilson Kneeshaw became the fourth player in a week to commit his immediate future to Ashington Football Club.

The striker – who won the Management Player of the Year plus the Goal of the season trophy at the awards ceremony recently – netted 16 times last term, finishing only one behind leading marksman Connor Thomson.

However it was a remarkable turnaround for the player who only recently celebrated his 30th birthday. Kneeshaw had fallen out of love with football before Colliers coach Richie Hill persuaded him to sign for Ashington – and the rest is history: “Richie brought me to the club and I had that rapport with him – then I got to know Andy Coyles,” said the Darlington-born forward, “As soon as I knew Andy and Richie were taking over the job from Ian Skinner, I told them if they wanted me, I’d be willing to sign. They wanted me – so I was delighted.”

Kneeshaw was quick to point out that the supporters at the Woodhorn Lane based club also played a ‘big part’ in his decision: “Last season we had our ups and downs – but it’s completely different when you are enjoying your football,” he added, “It was all the people around the club at Ashington that really injected a little bit of fire and competitive spirit back into my football so I was more than happy to dedicate another season – if not longer – to the football club. The fans have made me feel welcome from day one and they have played such a big part in me wanting to stay. I’m really excited for next season and hopefully I can give the team a good push.”

Kneeshaw also spoke highly about previous manager Ian Skinner who stepped down at the end of the last campaign: “What Ian has done in the last five years has been amazing – and he has really driven the team on,” he said.

Ashington FC joint head coach Andy Coyles said: “Wilson was one of those players we knew wanted to stay but the supporters have got to take some credit with this one because they have made him feel a massive part of the football club. He’s a huge part of the changing room – and he’s going to be a huge part of what we are looking to achieve this year.”

CARTWRIGHT: “IT’S A BIG YEAR FOR ME”

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC unveiled their first ‘new’ addition of the summer on Saturday with Andrew Cartwright making a return to Woodhorn Lane.

The defender was a regular for the club – as well as establishing himself as a fans favourite – in the season before last which saw the Colliers clinch promotion to the Northern Premier League East Division.

However Cartwright – who runs his own football coaching business – was unable to commit to the extra travelling involved in the Northern Premier League. He joined Ebac Northern League first division side Whitley Bay but also signed on a dual registration with Ashington.

On Saturday, the club announced that Cartwright had committed to next season and the player said: “I’m happy to be back. I played a couple of games for Ashington last season and enjoyed them so I thought ‘let’s give the travelling a go’ and take things from there. I’ll have to be a bit more flexible with work but I think that’s what you’ve got to do to play at a better level. It will be a brand new experience for me because I’ve never played at step four before – when I was with Blyth Spartans in the Conference North League the level was higher again.”

Newcastle-born Cartwright continued: “I met Andy (Coyles), Richie (Hill) and Gaz (Ormston) for a chat. I know the lads at the club and there are also good people involved which is great. I’ve also got a lot to look forward to in what is going to be a big year. I’m getting married to my fiancée Ruth and it’s also my 30th birthday so everything should be onwards and upwards.”

Ashington FC head coach Andy Coyles is delighted to have Cartwright on board and said: “I believe Andrew is one of the best right backs in the North East on the non-league circuit. It was a massive blow for us when he decided to leave us due to his football coaching business but he’s now able to be successful on a business front and also play football at this level. He wants to play football at a good level and he feels this is the right time to commit to step four.”

He continued: “Andrew obviously enjoyed his time with us the season before last with the promotion success and we had him on a dual registration last year. Even though he only played for us on a couple of occasions, he was phenomenal and he was our number one choice for full back. Consequently we were thrilled to bits when he agreed to come back to us and we genuinely believe that he will be a huge part of what we are looking to achieve next season. He’s a great lad to have around the place – not just on the pitch but in the changing room as well – and I’m sure he will prove his worth for sure.”

BUILD THE BUDGET

Last season, Ashington FC competed in the Northern Premier League for the first time in more than half a century. We’d like to thank you all of those that contributed to our Build The Budget campaign last season, your kindness was instrumental in ensure that the club was able to see out the season at this level. This also saw our season extended culminating in an excellent Senior Cup run despite the bitter semi-final loss to Newcastle United FC u21s in the our last game at Woodhorn Lane.

Travel remains increased substantially which led to additional costs in getting to games and for personnel now spending more of their weekend on football.

Unlike many non-league clubs Ashington has no benefactor with deep pockets to cover these costs. Our progress to this point has been built on the support of the people and businesses in the community. Our progress in the future is dependent on this continuing support and we firmly believe we have a bright future if our magnificent supporters continue to back us.

With all of this in mind we are this evening re-launching our Build the Budget campaign with a renewed look to give back more to our supporters in attaching their name to the club we all love. We are asking those supporters who can spare it, to help build the budget and give the team the best chance of building a squad to compete at this level.

How it will work

We are pleased to announce a five-tier membership to the club alongside opportunities to make one-off contributions to enter the Colliers Club Draw.


We’ll be running the scheme between Thursday 30th May and Friday 2nd August, simply pledge a monthly donation that will go directly towards building our squad and be rewarded for your support. All donations above £10 a month will gain access to our Colliers Club Draw, with further benefits added the more generous you are able to be. The benefits and draw prizes are outlined below:

Membership LevelMonthly ContributionTotalRewards
Member£10£120Entry to Colliers Club Draw.
Name included within season long matchday programme as a Member showing your contribution to the club. 
Bronze£25£300As above with the additional benefits:
1No. Home or Away Shirt
1No. Tile on The Woodhorn Wall 
Silver£40£480As Bronze with the additional benefits:
4No. x Matchday hospitality in the Charlton Lounge for 4 people. This includes:
4No. matchday ticket entries.
Access to the Charlton Lounge and service.
4No. 3-course meal and 4No. welcome drinks.
4No. matchday programmes 
Gold £60£720As Bronze with the additional benefits:
2No. x Season ticket or 1No. x Matchday hospitality in the Charlton Lounge for 10 people. This includes:
10No. matchday ticket entries.
Access to the Charlton Lounge and service
10No. 3-course meal and 10No. welcome drinks.
10No. matchday programmes
1No. pitch square sponsor 
Platinum£100£1200As Gold, with additional benefits to suit the individual. Please contact us to discuss.

To sign up contact budgetbuilder@ashingtonafc.com with your name and the amount you’d like to pledge and we will be in touch with a link where you can set up your direct debit.

Alternatively you can make a one off purchase here for a Tile on The Woodhorn Wall which will automatically enter you into the Collier Club Draw. The draw will be made ahead of the first league game of the season.

Collier Club Draw Prizes
1No. Adult Season Ticket
1No. Squad Signed Home Shirt
2No. Away Game Tickets and Travel
1No. £50 pound club shop voucher
5No – 2 x Home game tickets
5No – Ashington FC Scarves

ASHINGTON TRIO COMMIT FOR NEXT SEASON

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.”

MANAGEMENT TEAM APPRECIATION TO BEHIND THE SCENES STAFF

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s newly installed boss Andy Coyles, beavering away as he looks to shape his squad for the forthcoming season, has spoken on behalf of the management team about the ‘key’ signings he has already secured – off the field.

Coyles and Richie Hill were installed as head coaches a few weeks ago taking over the reins from Ian Skinner and the duo moved swiftly to secure the services of Gaz Ormston – who joined the Woodhorn Lane club midway through last season as a player – as a third member of their staff.

Now Coyles has been quick to talk openly about the vital contributions made by a plethora of personnel.

He said: “I’d like to make people aware that there are more than just the players and management that contribute towards what is a team effort at the club. Richie, Gaz and myself really appreciate and acknowledge the work done behind the scenes by the Board of Directors; football secretary Gav Perry; physio Mark Ramsden; logistics manager Alan Brown and photographer Ian Brodie. In the short time we have been in charge, they have all played a huge part and have been really supportive – and knowing that they are still going to be in place with us next season is excellent news.”

LEAGUE ALLOCATIONS FOR 2024/25

The FA have today released the allocations for all Step 1-6 leagues for the upcoming season.

As we were all aware, the Northern Premier League – East Division would rise from 20 to 22 teams for the 2024/25 season and beyond.

Hebburn Town and Stockton Town were both successful in promotion from our division last season, and we wish them the best of luck as they embark on the next part of their journey in the National League System. At the other end of the table, we also say goodbye to Winterton Rangers who will return to the Northern Counties East (Premier Division) after just a single season in the Northern Premier League. The last club we will say goodbye to are Grantham Town who have been laterally moved to the Northern Premier League – Midlands Division.

Brighouse Town, who finished second bottom have been given a reprieve due to vacancies in the National League System and will remain in the East division.

Coming into the division we have five clubs promoted from Step 5 leagues in Bishop Auckland, Emley, Garforth Town, Heaton Stannington and Sherwood Colliery and along with Bradford (Park Avenue) who were relegated from the Northern Premier League – Premier Division to complete the line up for 2024/25.

A map showing all of the clubs in the division is available below: