Tributes are paid to popular Ashington FC supporter and ex-player

Bill Sampson (red) watches on with his son Paul as his grandson Ben (No.15) plays for Ashington against Albion Sports last September in the FA Vase.
Bill Sampson (red) watches on with his son Paul as his grandson Ben (No.15) plays for Ashington against Albion Sports last September in the FA Vase.

Tributes have been paid to a former Ashington FC player and supporter who passed away last week.

Bill Sampson, whose grandson Ben plays for the Colliers, could regularly be seen cheering the team on from the stands, both home and away.

Manager Steve Harmison and assistant Lee Anderson both paid tribute to Bill.

Lee said: “On hearing the news of Bill’s death, my first thoughts were for his family. Bill and I go back a long way to when I was a little boy and first started playing football.

“His son Paul and myself were the same age and played in the same team. We were in the same class at school and same teams all the way through from juniors to seniors and Bill basically looked after me as if I was one of his own.

“I have known him since I was nine years old and to say that I am devastated for the family is an understatement.”

He added: “We were playing down at Northallerton one day when I fractured my cheek bone in the first 20 minutes of the game.

“I had a shower and supported the lads for the rest of the game then Bill drove me to Newcastle General Hospital and sat alongside me and my dad until I had had my operation.

“He stayed with me to make sure I was okay and that just sums Bill up. He was a strong man who was a driving force for his family and I think he will be very proud to have the family he has got.”

Steve said: “Bill was a lovely man. I’ve known him for a lot of years because when I played, his son Paul was in the same team and Bill supported us.

“More recently has been watching his grandson Ben at Ashington. Bill has come on a couple of trips with us and his passing is so sad.

“Bill was always encouraging Ben from the sidelines. We were in two minds whether to play Ben against Washington on Saturday or leave him out.

“Bill will be a gentleman sadly missed from the terraces of Woodhorn Lane.”

Steve added: “In Ivan Bell and Bill Sampson, we have lost two gentlemen who have supported this club really well.

“For Ivan, we wore black armbands in our away game at Guisborough then before our home match against North Shields remembered him with a minutes silence.

“On Saturday, we again wore black armbands but weren’t sure whether to have a minutes silence with Ben [Sampson] in the team. We decided to go ahead with it and Ben handled things very well.”

“A funeral service for Bill was being held in St Bartholomew’s Church, Newbiggin on Wednesday.