I'm really happy that I've done it now, says Ashford United's record goalscorer Stuart Zanone
STUART ZANONE spoke of his pride after smashing the goalscoring record for Ashford United on Saturday.
The 29-year-old goal-machine took his impressive scoring tally to 47 goals for the club as Paul Chambers’ side completed their Southern Counties East Football League campaign as runners-up after coming away from Fisher with a 5-1 win yesterday.
RECORD BREAKER: Stuart Zanone says breaking Ashford United's goalscoring record with a header against Fisher on Saturday was "a great weight of my shoulders".
Photo: Alan Coomes
Ashford’s win at Champion Hill saw them finish on 85 points from their 38 games, eight points behind promoted champions Phoenix Sports, who lost just one league game and that was to Ashford on 11 April.
Zanone played in that game, without scoring, but he just flown back from America on the morning of the game.
When asked how it felt to smash the club scoring record, Zanone, who also scored once for Thamesmead Town before his switch, said: “Good to be fair! When I realised I could break the record that’s what I wanted to do and I’m really happy that I’ve done it now.
“When I first joined I saw that record and there was no chance I’ll get it. I just thought I’d go along and see if I could do it. When I got to the late 30s or 40 odd I thought I could do this but I went on holiday for a few games and yesterday was the last chance to break it.
“It was on my mind all Friday night and before the game. I had quite a few nerves but once it was done, that was it!”
Zanone levelled the record from the penalty spot to give Ashford a 2-0 lead.
“I won the penalty, I took a shot and the defender dived and saved it with his hands,” said the striker.
“Before we went out, Paul Chambers said we wanted to finish second but wanted me to try and get the goals and it’s a big thing for the club to have the league’s top scorer.”
When asked how he was feeling as he ran up to take the spot-kick, he said: “I was alright to be fair. I took a few before the game and I felt ok, but I just had it in my head that I needed to score so I just hit it hard and the goalkeeper didn’t move!
GOAL MACHINE: Stuart Zanone equals the record from the penalty spot.
Photo: Alan Coomes
“Once it went in that was the record level and I settled into my game because I thought I’d score again and luckily I did.”
Zanone scored Ashford’s third goal in the 28th minute to create history for him and the club.
“I’ve seen the videos of the goals, it was just an easy goal! It was like an open goal. It was good work from the boys. I just had to make sure I had to keep the header down and when it went in that was great. It was a great weight of my shoulders.
“I wanted the Golden Boot for the League. I’d never thought I’d get that!
“I think if I had played in all of the games I’d broken the 50-goal barrier. If I stay at Ashford next year we’d have a lot more games because we got knocked out in the first round of one cup, one cup we weren’t even entered in.
“I think I missed 13-14 games in total so I can definitely do it. Forty-seven is a good number.”
Zanone first came to prominence in this league for Rochester United, before moving on to Thamesmead Town, helping them clinch promotion via a penalty shoot-out win away to Maldon & Tiptree in the Ryman League Division One North Play-Off Final in 2013.
He said: “I’m happy with what I’ve done. I only started playing men’s football properly until I left the Army and it was a bit too late then to go higher.
“When I moved to Kent I started off with Rochester and I’m glad of what I achieved at Thamesmead where I scored 30 goals and we got promoted, which was a great feeling for such a small club and I met some great friends.
“It didn’t work out at Greenwich but I loved it ever since I’ve joined Ashford. They love us down there and it’s nice to pay them back.
“I don’t think I’m going to play higher, at my age at 29, no one wants a 29-year-old striker. I’m not fussed. I’m enjoying it.”
Zanone often faced the wrath of then Thamesmead Town boss Keith McMahon for turning up late for midweek matches.
“I live in Essex still, in Harlow. I work as a fibre optic cable planner for City of London Telecoms,” revealed the striker.
“I’m not really known in Essex for someone who plays football in the Essex Leagues. In Kent, people know me as a striker.
“The journey to Ashford is easy, an hour and ten minutes. It’s motorway all the way down and I quite enjoy the drive down. I’m so used to doing it, it doesn’t bother me. It’s part of my Saturday, the excitement and I enjoy it.
“Luckily I finish work and I get home from London at six so I just drive down and I can make training. I’ve had times when I’ve had midweek games for Thamesmead and just turned up at twenty-to-eight!
“Usually I leave work an hour earlier, sometimes I have a bit of a panic on but sometimes I book an afternoon off to get there.”
Zanone revealed that he has already had one offer from one unnamed club but will be happy to stay at Ashford United to mount another promotion push next season.
He said: “I love it there! The chairman’s already spoken to me and he wants me to stay, so does the manager.
“If we can keep the same squad, add a few then we’ll definitely be up there because we’ve got the new 3G pitch there as well.
“You never know what’s going to happen in football I guess. I’ve had one call from a side but I don’t know who will come in or if anyone else.
“I can only speak to people and see what they’ve got to say. I love it at Ashford and fingers crossed I’m there next year.”
Visit Ashford United’s website: www.ashfordunitedfc.com