Ashington FC bolster squad with six new signings

Former Ashington FC captain Liam Atkin is returning to the club. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Former Ashington FC captain Liam Atkin is returning to the club. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison has bolstered his squad by signing six players ahead of the new season.

Making a return to Woodhorn Lane are centre backs Liam Atkin and Matty Grieve and utility player Gareth Williams, whilst newcomers include Michael Bell, Adam Shanks and Stephen Skinner.

The boss said: “Liam Atkin and Matty Grieve did very, very well for the club before and I think they enhanced their reputations and their profiles by leaving Ashington to potentially better themselves – just like Glen Taylor has gone to Spennymoor.

“We are a step five club and as much as it is frustrating and disappointing, we can’t offer players that type of football.

“Liam and Matty didn’t come back straight away but have now returned, which is a good thing because they are two fantastic players and two good characters who are in the prime of their lives.

“They were good players when they left, and they are still good players now.”

As for the ‘new blood’, Harmison said: “Michael Bell has decided to come to Ashington from West Allotment Celtic, which is very good because he offers us something different.

“He’s a lad who plays in wide areas but who can also operate through the middle, and who has got a very good spring in his step.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the party, but I know he is a good player.

“Adam Shanks scored 25 goals plus in the second division of the Ebac Northern League for Alnwick Town last year and he is another who will give us a different option.

“The intriguing signing is Stephen Skinner. I met him last week. He is someone who is well travelled, who has played professionally in Scotland and in a good standard at non league level, but who has also been a chairman; manager of Northallerton; manager/chairman at Celtic Nation and West Auckland and was also player/manager at West Auckland this past year.

“He is a good footballer who said to me: “I just want to play football.”

Harmison added: “I’m looking to build a squad of 18 to 19 players and I have young players who are in need of guidance and a bit of experience.

“Skinner, along with James Harmison, Paul Dunn, Ben Christensen, Andrew Johnson and a couple of others, can give us that.

“From that aspect I think it is refreshing that these people want to come and play for us.

“I believe we have got all bases covered although we still need a centre forward.

“We have strikers in Dylan Armstrong, Tony Stephenson and Shanks but could do with one more.

“On the flip side, Wayne Buchanan, Glen Taylor and Lance McGlen have all left us, the latter who has decided to play for Bedlington.

“Lance has done a lot of good things for Ashington and I believe he is a fantastic footballer and I am really disappointed that he has gone.

“During those cup ties last season when Lance played in the centre of defence, he gave us something different.

“But I’m in a position where I’m never going to put anybody in a headlock or put pressure on an individual to come and play for Ashington FC.

“If they want to go and play somewhere else, it is there choice.

“Lance has made the decision to go with his mates, but if he decides to come back, I’ll never knock it because we will always operate an open arms system to anyone who wants to play for us.

“We are moving forward in a good direction and we are nearly there, probably two players away from being in a position where we want to be.”

Their opening friendly is against Ashington Colliers at Ashington High School on Wednesday, July 8, kick-ff 6.30pm.