Ashington sign keeper Chris Bannon

Ashington CFC manager Gary Middleton took his new signings to a round half dozen last week when he brought in Chris Bannon from West Allotment Celtic.

Middleton and his assistant Perry Briggs – who have already seen Craig Robson, Richie Slaughter, Dean Critchlow, Richard Flynn and Lewis Teasdale put pen to paper at the Woodhorn Lane based club – said they are delighted to have signed the 26-year-old goalkeeper.

He played in Celtic’s promotion winning side last term as they regained top flight status in the Ebac Northern League.

Newcastle born Bannon, who works as a treasury analyst in the finance department of a housing association in Gosforth and who is also a qualified accountant, described his decision to make the move as being a ‘no brainer’.

And he now is looking for the Colliers to push on after last season.

“When I got the phone call from Gary and Perry asking me if I wanted to join the club, it was a no brainer,” he said.

“The club finished sixth last term but need to push on – like reaching one cup final at least – and to build on their success.

Ashington are a well run club with great supporters and I’m certainly looking forward to it. I cannot wait for the campaign to start.”

On the theme of cup finals, Bannon, who has also given service to Washington and Hebburn Town, said he would like nothing better than for the Wansbeck side to repeat what they did the season before last and lift the Northumberland Senior Cup at the home of Newcastle United.

“My sister Stephanie Bannon plays centre back and is captain of Sunderland Women FC has played at the Stadium of Light,” he added.

“But I’m a Newcastle United fan and it would be a dream come true for me to play at St James’ Park.”

The stopper, who lives in North Shields, will also be setting himself a target of clean sheets before the season opens on August 9 with a home clash against newly promoted Jarrow Roofing.

He said: “Personally, I would like to keep more clean sheets than I did last season when I kept six in 16 games.

“The previous campaign at Washington my target was ten and I got nine.”

Middleton said of his latest addition: “Chris was in West Allotment Celtic’s promotion side last year and has been sought after.

“We are pleased to have secured his services on the eve of pre-season.”

Meanwhile Ashington – whose first warm-up game is on Tuesday, July 15, at home to South Shields – face a lengthy journey in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup after they were paired away to Holker Old Boys in Barrow.

The manager said: “Obviously it will be a tough and difficult tie with such a travel.

“At this stage we know nothing about them but will be trying to obtain some information.

“The match on August 16 will be our third game into the new season and we’ll be giving it our best shot.”

The winners will then be away in the preliminary round to Thackley or Albion Sports – but a cautious Middleton said: “Our only focus will be on the Holker game – at this stage the next round is of no interest to me.”