Teenager Ben Sampson scooped a hat-trick of awards at Ashington Football Club’s presentation night on Friday – and immediately dedicated the trio to his granddad Bill (Sampson) who sadly passed away recently, writes Bill Bennett.
Sampson – whose father Paul and granddad also played for the club – said he was taken aback with the announcement of his success and also admitted that considering it was his first season at this level, he didn’t expect to make much of an impact.
Sampson won the coveted Player’s Player award; Supporters Player trophy and tied with Ben Harmison for the Club Player of the Year.
The 18 year old Ashington-born midfielder played 32 matches scoring six goals and was a shining light in a poor campaign: “From a team point of view it was a disappointing season but from a personal angle a very good one,” he said.
“Assistant manager Lee Anderson asked me to come in but I wasn’t really looking to play much this season – I expected to be sitting on the bench for most of it.”
He continued: “I certainly didn’t foresee any awards – any of the lads could have been up for them – and I’d like to thank all of the players; the coaching staff and the fans. I was surprised yet thrilled to bits and I’d like to dedicate all the awards to my late granddad.”
Ben Harmison said: “It was nice to get an award though obviously it came after a poor season. It didn’t come as a surprise because I thought I had a decent campaign in which Shaun Bell and Ben Sampson were excellent.”
The 31 year old striker added: “Hopefully we can push on again next season and finish higher in the Ebac Northern League. Ashington should be higher – we got beat off some poor sides last year yet competed with the top teams. Hopefully we can put the season to bed and learn from what we did wrong and put it right.”
Ashington head coach Ian Skinner said of Sampson: “I was pleased for Ben – he deserved his awards to be fair. He was a 17 year old when he joined us pre season and it’s a difficult unforgiving league to come into.
“I never doubted his ability because he has had a good footballing education. He was at Newcastle United as a youngster but chose to leave the academy system. There were a number of clubs after him but he decided to concentrate on his education. I’d seen him come through at Newcastle and we previously tried to get him after he came on for Ashington and played at right back in a friendly match against Preston. We played him there to protect him a little bit and I think he thought that’s where we were going to play him this season but he showed in training that he was quite mature for his age and was physically well developed as well and we knew he wanted to play in midfield rather than full back - and he got his opportunity.”
He continued: “Ben played 32 matches and scored six goals and I think he should be delighted with his first season in the ENL and he is more than good enough to play for many years to come and I think he could play higher if he wanted to push himself.” Of Ben Harmison, Skinner said: “It was a difficult decision to split the award between the two Ben’s. They were polar opposite’s - Sampson coming in as a 17 year old with Harmison who is renowned for playing cricket rather than football. To be fair, supporters look at Harmison and say he is big and awkward and have tagged him as a Ben Ameobi. He is better than people think and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. He is good in the air which you would expect for his size but he has a great touch and tries to bring people into the game. I think he too should be delighted. He has played 37 games and got 16 goals and remember it was also his first season in the ENL. Both Ben’s have been big, big players for us and that’s why it was difficult to split the award - and to be fair it was Lee Anderson who suggested that we should share it between both of them.”