Damien Stevens will be wearing Ashington colours again next season – after the striker turned down an offer from newly promoted Marske United, writes Brian Bennett.
Stevens – who broke his arm in the recent friendly at Gretna - already faces a race against the clock to be fit for the Colliers opening game of the Ebac Northern League season against Blyth AFC on Saturday week (August 4) but his decision to stay with the Woodhorn Lane outfit has delighted manager Steve Bowey.
The 26 year old ground worker – who was hoping to return to training this week - said: “I was taken by surprise when I heard of Markse’s interest in me. They have gone to play at a higher level in Division One East of the Northern Premier League and it was purely on that basis that I was thinking of challenging myself. However, with my partner Jade due to give birth, it wasn’t really a feasible thing to do.
“The travel aspect also came massively into the equation and to be fair I wasn’t really keen on the thought of leaving Ashington because I am happy and content.” Stakeford-based Stevens added: “Considering Marske won the Northern League title last season, it was nice of them to come in for me - but Ashington are my home town club and I’m delighted to be staying.”
Bowey said: “Damien is a massive asset to this club and he’s a different type of striker to what we have got in Tony Stephenson and Lee Scott. He is a handful on his day and Marske quite fancied him but I held talks with him to convince him that this is where he belongs. He wanted to try and test himself with a step up to a higher level club but he’s an Ashington lad and I’m delighted with his decision.”
He continued: “Damien has an injury at the moment but he’ll be looking to come back sooner rather than later and our physiotherapist Gary Neasham will be keeping a check on him and seeing how he progresses. He will be a main player for us this season and I’ve got no doubt that the goals will fly in from him. Not just from a personal point of view but also from a club aspect, you don’t want to lose your best players - and Damien fits into that category.”
*On Saturday (July 28), Ashington conclude their pre season friendlies with a home fixture against Esh Winning (3pm). *Last week, the Colliers went down 4-0 against Blyth Spartans then drew 2-2 with Bedlington Terriers on Friday night.