Crawley Town and former Tottenham Hotspur forward on making the step up from Non League football
When Sam Ashford scored on his debut for Crawley Town against Millwall on September 5, 2020, Reds fans probably thought they had found a non-league gem.
But after a hamstring injury and the emergence of a certain Max Watters, the 25-year-old’s chances for the rest of the season were few and far between.
After a loan spell at Woking and a lot of hard work over the summer however, Ashford is getting his rewards.
He scored against West Ham u23s in pre-season before notching up goals against Gillingham in the League Cup and Harrogate Town last Tuesday - the latter being a superb finish.
And Ashford is happy to be on the pitch and contributing with goals.
He said: “I can always keep on improving and work hard but I have had a nice run in the team at the moment, scoring and hopefully keep pushing on.
“I am playing really well.”
Ashford has had an interesting life in football. Starting at Tottenham when he was eight, he was let go by the Premier League club at u14 level - a heart-breaking day he will never forget.
After that he played Sunday League before playing at various levels of non-league, including a spell at Witham Town under the management of his dad Mark.
So how hard was it for Ashford to step up to full time football and what has he found hardest?
“I have played a fair few levels now, I started real low. Every time you step up it’s that little more physical and little more mental.
“The hardest one is the jump into full-time football and how your body reacts to it."
You can read our full interview with Sam Ashford in this week's Reds Pullout in the Crawley Observer