ASHINGTON CFC have been hit by the news that cultured defender Liam Atkin has signed for neighbours Blyth Spartans.
However, the 24-year-old has left the Woodhorn Lane club on good terms.
And he said his reason for joining the Spartans was based on a desire to play at a higher level on the non-league ladder.
Atkin admitted that although he was aware of interest from the Croft Park club on two occasions in the past, his move to link up with the Blue Square Bet North outfit came out of the blue and he had to think hard before agreeing to the switch.
Atkin, a football coach with the Newcastle United Foundation, said: “I have joined Blyth because I want to better myself and play at a higher level.
“Spartans have twice came in for me before but it was still a shock when I got a phone call declaring their interest.
“I have already played football at Blyth’s level if not higher and I wanted to give it a go.
“The new bosses have lost a few players but they have also brought in some good players and are putting together a new squad – and I’m looking forward to it.”
Atkin, who was chosen by Woodhorn Lane boss Gary Middleton as his Player of the Year for the 2009-10 season, admitted that he had enjoyed his time with the Colliers.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in Wansbeck and I’m going to miss the club who have been good to me,” he said.
“I work with Neil Winskill the assistant manager at Ashington and I leave on good terms.
“I’ve had some good times over the past two years and when Blyth rang me, I was in touch with Gary Middleton straight away.
“I had to ponder for a while but the lure of wanting to play at a higher level was the key issue.”
Middleton said: “I’m disappointed to lose one of our best young players having nurtured Liam through non-league football for the last four years at West Allotment Celtic and Ashington.
“However, I’m pleased that he has been given the opportunity to step up to another level - Liam feels he can do it and we wish him well and hope he succeeds.
“On reflection, Neil (Winskill) and myself believe we must be doing some good work when a player is taking a step up in non league football.
“Liam has left on good terms and if things do not work out for him at Croft Park, he has promised to come back to us.”