Andrew Johnson has cast aside overtures from fellow Ebac Northern League first division club Celtic Nation as he hopes to help orchestrate and lead Ashington to a successful campaign after pledging his immediate future to the Woodhorn Lane club.
And Johnson’s decision has been applauded by everyone at the club including chairman Ian Lavery as well as team manager Gary Middleton.
Lavery said: “I share the delight of everyone connected at Woodhorn Lane that Andrew has decided to stay and captain Ashington, his hometown club.
“It shows the passion, the commitment and dedication he has for Ashington CFC, and let us hope that the club reaps the rewards of Andrew’s actions.”
Middleton said: “I think the fact Andrew has decided to stay is a fantastic statement by the lad.
“We tried hard to keep him – and since the other two lads (Matty Grieve and Liam Atkin) left, he has been outstanding in the team with his captaincy and performances.
“It’s a great accolade to the lad that he has decided to remain at the club at this moment in time and at this stage of the season to take us on until the end of the campaign and see what happens.
“We are in all competitions and he has turned down financial reward to play football for Ashington Football Club.
“I cannot speak more highly enough of the lad for his decision, which was a brave one, and I believe he has made the right call.”
The 26-year-old midfielder or striker – who swept the board at the club’s annual awards presentation last season when he collected the players’ player; manager’s player and supporters’ player of the year accolades – said: “I didn’t really want to be put in the position to have to make a decision, especially after the loss of my granddad.
“At one point I thought I was going to go to Celtic Nation then I came round to the idea that I would at least see the season out at Ashington with them still being in all the competitions, and also it would be too hard to let the rest of the lads down.”
Johnson, a project officer at Newcastle United Foundation, added: “The fans were brilliant to me on the Saturday of our FA Vase game and victory against Thackley – the day where my granddad had passed away in the early hours – and I really appreciated their support.
“I have got a lot of close mates at the club, am delighted to stay and I have definitely made the right decision.”
Meanwhile Middleton swooped last week to sign Martin Brittain from neighbours Bedlington Terriers.
Newcastle-born Brittain, who will be 29 later this month, said: “I felt I needed a fresh start so things have worked out well for me.
“I had no hesitation is giving the thumbs up – Ashington have a good set up and I can’t wait to be involved.”
Middleton said: “Martin is a good addition to the squad.
“He gives us good options down the side and he delivers good quality into the area where we want the ball put so he will be a good acquisition to the team.”