Ashton Athletic FC
Ground Number: 689
Sunday 16th April 2017
Ashton Athletic 2-1 Squires Gate
North West Counties Premier
ASHTON ATHLETIC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was formed in 1968 and were originally a Sunday League side playing in the Wigan Sunday League. Moving on to the Warrington League and then the Lancashire Combination, they joined the North West Counties League for its inaugural season of 1982/83. They spent four seasons here initially, generally struggling and finishing bottom of Division 3 in 3 out their four seasons here. They were demoted in 1986 due to lack of facilities at their ground and would go on to spend the next 20 years in the Manchester League. They continued to struggle at first but in 2005/06, a best ever finish of 4th was good enough to see them promoted back to the North West Counties League Division 2. This time, with the appropriate facilities in place, results on the field were much better. Their initial season saw a disappointing 16th place finish, but the following year, 3rd place behind Kirkham & Wesham (AFC Fylde) and New Mills was enough to earn promotion to the newly-named Premier Division for the 2008/09 season. A 6th place finish was a great start, and that's only been bettered once when they finished 5th in 2014/15. This season sees them in 10th after the previous weekend's games with a decent chance of getting up to 7th if results go their way.
In the FA Cup Ashton Athletic had their best-ever run in the FA Cup this season when they reached the 2nd Qualifying Round. A narrow 1-0 victory at AFC Blackpool kicked things off before they were drawn to play Worksop Town in the Preliminary Round. A couple of 2-2 draws and extra time were played before Ashton Triumphed 4-1 on penalties. They saved their best for the following round, with a great 7-2 win over higher-level Mossley. Sadly for them, their dream was ended with a 5-0 home defeat to FC Halifax Town. Their best run in the FA Vase came in their debut season of 2007/08 when they reached the 2nd Round before a narrow 2-1 defeat at Billingham Synthonia. Local cup wins include the Atherton Charity Cup in 2007 and the North West Counties Challenge Cup in 2014. This season saw the club's best ever attendance of 479 for the FA Cup game against FC Halifax Town.
For the first hop game on the Sunday, we had the first of the two Ashton-In-Makerfield clubs to visit. I really wanted to visit them back at the start of September for their FA Cup game against Mossley, but with the Easter Sunday groundhop game in mind, I resisted and went to Salford City v Alfreton instead. Though it was a wet weekend, I rode my luck on that day. I got back to the train station late due to confusing signposting. Normally I'd be looking at having to cough up around £100 for a new ticket, but as luck would have it, it was delayed. Even better, the train was delayed to such an extent I got a refund for that leg of the journey. An administrative error meant that I was refunded twice, so all in all, my Manchester jaunt just cost me the £2 bus fare that I paid whilst up there, al least for travel. Some may say it was justification for having to travel from Milton Keynes, but it all worked out very well for me.
On the day of the game, I woke at 7.45 after a restless night's sleep. I was glad to be able to have a bath to wake me up. As it was Easter Sunday, hardly anywhere was open so I had breakfast at the hotel where I was staying. It cost me a fiver and was reasonable for the price, although I'd have preferred a Morrisons or Subway. I stopped at McColls to get the Non-League Paper plus Morrisons to draw out some cash. Practically the whole of the journey was restricted to 50 MPH on the motorways due to roadworks, but I was at the ground by 10.45, with plenty of time to go until kick-off. I met up with other hoppers and chatted about various things, and it was good to catch up with people that I'd not seen for a while.
The game started with a bang when in the opening couple of minutes the visitors Joseph Noblett netted following home keeper Martin Pearson's fumble. Daniel Smith equalised for Ashton Athletic when he finished from close range following a good ball in. The hosts were the better side and they got their reward on 63 minutes when Lee Vaughan's smart shot from just inside the area finished off a well-worked move. There were further chances for both sides, but none of them came seriously close to changing the scoreline in what was a decent and competitive game.
I first visited BROCSTEDES PARK on Friday 25th November 2011 on the way up to staying for a couple of days away prior to Wycombe's 2-0 FA Cup defeat to a Jamie Vardy inspired Fleetwood Town. Visible from the adjacent M6 motorway, I was given a friendly welcome when I arrived at the ground to take pictures. There I found a mainly uncovered ground, though there were a few hundred seats under cover split over two stands.
Not much had changed on my second visit for a game, save for a few welcome licks of paint. The rest of the ground is open to the elements and despite its proximity is in a fairly rural location and is a nice place to watch football. There's not a lot near to the ground but the facilities at the ground are decent enough, with hot food and a bar.