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INTERVIEW | Sam Ashton

Missed the big interview with goalkeeper Sam Ashton in Tuesday night's programme?

Fear not as you can read the full article here...

Since signing for the Magpies in 2013 Sam Ashton made the number one jersey his own whilst winning the Evo-Stik First Division North title, but suffered a serious leg injury mid-way through last season which has sidelined him for what could be up to 12 months.

However, he has huge hopes that he can return from this set back earlier than planned and when Sam spoke to Chris Park in pre-season he told us just how well his recovery is coming along: “I’m five months into it and doing really well.

“I’ve just started running on it so I’m more advanced than I thought I would be – I’m looking at nine months now instead of 12 which I was initially told after the operation.  Hopefully if we can knock it down a couple of months I should be back playing around Christmas time.”

He still has some more work to do though before he pulls on his gloves again and if his plan of action to strengthen the injured leg works we could see him doing some training in the next few weeks.

And when asked about an aim for his return he had a particular game in mind.  The return to Curzon Ashton on January 13th, where Sam suffered his injury, would see him coming full circle: “I’ve got an aim to be back and ready for selection on January 13th. That’s the last game I played for Chorley so it would be a nice turnaround after what’s been a tough year.”

However, even though he hasn’t been playing for the last six months he hasn’t shirked away from any off-field responsibilities.  “I remember when I first got injured Vermo (Jamie Vermiglio) had me out scouting games, our next opposition and future players.  I actually went scouting Ritchie (Branagan) and suggested the club bring him in whilst I was out.”

He’s not worried about bringing in competition for his own position though and, even though he enjoys that side of football, he confirms he’s “not ready to hang the old gloves up yet.  I’m still hungry for it and itching to get back onto the pitch.”

Before joining the Magpies, Sam played for FC United and became a cult there during their memorable FA Cup run.  He played in that epic 3-2 victory over Rochdale at Spotland in the First Round Proper before being knocked out in the Second Round by Brighton & Hove Albion in a replay at Gigg Lane.

Reminiscing on that time Sam said: “To be honest the season didn’t start so well for me because Karl Marginson (FC United manager) brought in a young lad, Zac Hibbert, so we were both fighting for the number one shirt.  I got my chance, then got knocked out and sidelined for a bit, got back in and then I never looked back.  From that point it just went off and became a really, really good year.”

He looks back on his five years at United with fond memories and is proud to have played a part in their early history.  “FC are a big name in non-league football because of what they believe in.  It was a great season that year and I think it’s the best team they’ve ever had.”

Sam grew up supporting his home-town team, Bolton Wanderers, and was delighted to be able to start his career there.  “I was there from about nine or ten years old and I loved every minute of it playing for my boyhood team.”

During his time there he even played outfield.  When quizzed about this he said: “It was a funny old month that because it was around Christmas time and the scholars had gone home and because I was a local lad I ended up coming in.  Nicky Hunt got injured in a warm up game so the coach said to me go and sit in the right back spot.

“The week after the keeper coach, Fred Barber, came up to me and said ‘you’re not going to believe this but you’re training with the first team and going down to Watford, but as a right back!’  I honestly thought he was joking.”

Fred wasn’t and for that whole week Sam trained with the first team as an outfield player.  “During the match I think it was Jimmy Philips who said to Sam Allerdyce stick him on and let him do a bit.”

A dream goal didn’t materialize though as Sam played just five minutes but believes he should have grabbed at least one:  “I would have scored if Ricardo Vaz Téhad have slipped me through!  It was a really proud moment for me as the fans were all standing up and cheering my name.”

Sam is pretty confident he will play out his career between the sticks though and sees the benefits it brings to his teammates.  “I was a bit undecided when I was younger but as I got older I chose the nets.  It’s a great position to be in on the pitch and even though it’s a difficult position to play you get to see a lot of the action.  That’s why I believe the keeper has to be a big voice at the back just to get the lads going in front as you can read what’s going to happen and I enjoy being part of it when the ball’s nowhere near me.”

As for the coming campaign Sam has been impressed with the signings that Matt Jansen and his team have made.  “They need to be the right player for Chorley, you can’t just be any player as you need the right attitude and to do well for the club.  So I think the gaffer, Vermo and Smudge have done brilliantly by bringing in the lads that they have.”

Sam has deep admiration for the faithful Chorley supporters that have stuck by him and the team over the years and added:  “I love coming here and I love the people.  I’ve said from day one that it’s just a big family.  As I said before you’ve got to be the right type of player to play at this club.

“The crowds are fantastic and give the lads’ loads of attention off the pitch as well as on it and that means when the lads play for Chorley they wear the shirt with pride.”

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