Striker Clarke signs for Ashington as Atkin returns following short spell with Spartans

ASHINGTON CFC’s assistant manager Neil Winskill has welcomed the double signing of striker Jamie Clarke from Norton and Stockton Ancients and the return to Woodhorn Lane of central defender Liam Atkin.

Winskill, speaking after Ashington had secured a 2-1 win over Northallerton in the preliminary round of the FA Cup, said: “The move for Jamie came totally out of the blue.

“Gary (Middleton) had a conversation with Jamie last week and told him we missed a bit of presence up front with the departure of Glen Taylor coupled to the fact that Stephen Young had injured his hand and Joe Race was playing whilst not being 100 per cent fit.

“It was probably the right area of the field we needed to strengthen with Jonny Godsmark being out through injury as well, but also Jamie’s personality is something we probably haven’t got enough of – someone who has been around and seen the game.”

As for the return of Atkin, Winskill said: “Gary and myself are huge fans of Liam, not just as a footballer but as a person.

“He wanted to go to Blyth and test himself out at a higher level, which he was capable of doing because he’s a fantastic player.

“But with work commitments, coupled to the fact that I think he genuinely missed the lads here at Woodhorn Lane and everything about Ashington, he has returned.

“We monitored the situation to see what would happen and when he wasn’t playing, it was a matter of time before he came back to us.”

Clarke, who with Saturday’s first half strike, has now plundered 763 goals in 987 games, said: “I spoke to Gary and it took 15 to 20 minutes to make my decision.

“I’m a one of those people that if I’m wanted, then I’ll come.

“I live Teesside and it took me just under 50 minutes to get here, so it’s not a big problem – and I’ve travelled most of my career in any case.

“There are a lot of young lads here, Gary wanted a bit of experience to help them on their way and if I can do that then I’m happy.”

Clarke, 37, added: “It’s a bit of a fresh start for myself – and it’s always good to get of the mark in your first game.

“I was quite pleased with the strike – it was one of those where you get a sight of goal and you’ve got to hit the target.

“I think it went through a couple of bodies before it hit the net but that didn’t bother me.”

Atkin said: “The move happened quite quickly. I had a few different work commitments and I couldn’t commit to both those and to Blyth Spartans.

“I would have also been in and out of the team all season and I just want to play football all of the time.

“I’m glad to be back at Ashington and for us to get a win – that was the main thing, although the performance wasn’t the best.”

Winskill concluded: “We are delighted with both of them – we needed something to spark us into life; the lads were told a couple of weeks ago that if things didn’t improve then we would bring players in.

“However, Gary and myself didn’t think the two lads we have signed would be two of the class of player which we have got so we are delighted with it.

“Hopefully the competition for places will hot up and hopefully that will bring the best out of people.”