VICE-captain Craig Scott led the ‘get well soon’ messages sent to Ashington CFC manager Gary Middleton prior to Saturday’s Ebac Northern League first division clash against West Auckland.
Middleton, pictured, was taken to Wansbeck General Hospital last week with an undisclosed illness.
But the club said he was said to be responding well to treatment.
Scott, who wore the captain’s armband at the weekend with skipper Liam Atkin sidelined through injury, said: “Assistant manager Neil Winskill had a chat with the players before the game to explain the situation about Gary’s health and after hearing the news about him, the lads picked themselves up and the mood in the camp was OK.
“Neil asked us to go out and try to perform to even greater heights – and to be fair in the first half I thought we did well.
“We dominated the first period with the West Auckland goal coming against the run of play, but we showed a bit of character to get back to 3-3 because in the past couple of seasons we would have been on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat.
“The wind may have had a factor in the way the game panned out – but we definitely tried to win it for Gary.
“We had a few injuries as well and it wasn’t easy with Liam Atkin being out, but if we could not win, the next best thing was to take a point, which we did.
“However, everyone at the club – players, officials and supporters – send their best wishes to Gary for a speedy recovery.”
Winskilladded: “We are not in the Premier League and we are all coming here not just for football reasons but for social reasons.
“We are a really close group of friends whether a player, coach or physio.
“We are all mates and when one of your mates is poorly – and quite seriously poorly – it’s a bit of a shock to the system.
“Reaction to the news can go two ways – it can pick people up and they play for the manager, or on the other hand, the worry and anxiety about Gary’s health can play on people’s minds and distract from the football.
“I thought it was a bit of both today. I thought the first half we played like we were really fighting for Gary; the second half the wind got hold and it was backs against the wall for us.
“The players became a bit cagey where they didn’t want to lose the game for Gary.”