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Sharp-shooter Ashford "super hungry" to show his qualities

Sam Ashford has the smell of success still in his nostrils – and he wants to bring that winning feeling to Wealdstone.

The forward, who joined the club as part of a triple swoop last week, finished the season as an Irish Cup winner after helping to fire Cliftonville to their first cup triumph in 45 years with a 3-1 win over Lingfield.

Having swapped life in Northern Ireland for the National League, the 28-year-old is now keen to bring some success to the Stones.

"I finished second with Ayr United in the Scottish Championship and then won the Irish cup and qualified for Europe with Cliftonville," said the much-travelled left-sided attacker. I'd love to taste that again and get us to Wembley in the Trophy or into the play-odds. Those moments and memories last for ever so I'd like to make some of those here."

That will be music to the ears of long-serving fans and club officials who feel the team is long overdue a deep run in one of the cup competitions.

"It seems like a family club, really together, everyone works hard on and off the field and it feels like a great opportunity," said Ashford. "Like me, it feels like an underrated club and one looking to prove people wrong. I'm super hungry."

Ashford brings a wealth of experience with him having played, and scored in, every league in England above the Essex Senior League up to and including League Two where he bagged for Crawley.

"I feel in my prime," he said. "My first pro contract was at 24 so I feel I've got a less miles on the clock and I'm super hungry and still so eager to learn and improve. I feel like I'm 23 or 24. I like to work hard. It starts with that. I will be the most hard-working forward and I will score goals. I believe that deep down. I want to get the crowd on its feet."

Ashford has done that pretty much wherever he has been, especially for clubs in the Essex area. He then ventured to clubs in Hertfordshire, Surrey and then Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"I've been away for a little bit but I just wanted to prove myself in different aspects of life," he said. "Playing in different countries has given me different experiences. It's really rounded me and shaped me and I feel in a really good place. It will be nice to call somewhere home for a bit."

His move to Wealdstone on an initial one-year deal feels a good fit, with Ashford a big fan of how manager Matt Taylor wants to build on the playing style the club has become renowned for.

"I knew about the gaffer's playing career but he spoke to me with such professionalism, such an intensity to win and the desire to keep improving himself as a coach and us as players," said Ashford. "They are all the things you look for in a manager.

"I've always kept an eye on the National League as I have so many friends who play in the league. Wealdstone are now renowned for playing really good football. I've seen lots of clips and I even watched a couple of games on TV. The style of play is class and it's something I want to be part of."

Ashford still got recall the "goosebumps" he got from pulling on the England C shirt in 2018. He wants to replicate that level of performance at The Vale and fire the club's and his own ambitions.

"If I was here for three or four years, loved it and played really then that would be great," he said. "But if I can try and kick on and play in the League again that would be great too because if I do that, it means I've done well and the team has done well."

Pictures: Jon Taffel & Sean Troup


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