Thursday 28th July 2005

Ashford is ideal for Robbins after dramatic u-turn


Despite a traumatic close season, things appear to be back to normal at Ryman League Division One club Ashford Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

And Mike Robbins, who resigned from his position as reserve team manager at the end of last season, has made a dramatic u-turn after issues have been ironed out with the club's hierarchy.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Robbins is pleased he is back managing the club's second string - but insists he is an ambitious man.

"I was offered a couple of roles after resigning at the end of last season, both stepping up a level," he reveals.

"But I felt that at this stage, the travelling and training would be too much for my young family, as I also work in London.

"I am still very young with my experiences and relatively new to the Ryman League and therefore feel that this is still the ideal club to get my teeth into," the 32-year-old said.

The Homelands club escaped relegation from the Ryman League by only one point last season, and Robbins blames frequent managerial changes at the downfall.

"The main problem was the first team had four changes of management in one season," he admitted.

"This pushed back the (reserve team) players progress, as well as my own.

"Tim (Thorogood) is well aware that I am ambitious, and that will be healthy for him and John (Cumberbatch)."

There now appears to be stability at the club with John Cumberbatch's appointment as joint-manager to work with Tim Thorogood, who is also chairman.

A handful of last season's reserve team that played under Robbins last season, turned out in Ashford's 2-2 draw at Kent League side Herne Bay last weekend, and seven are expected to play in tonight's friendly against Southern Leaguers Sittingbourne at Homelands.

But Robbins admits to feeling 60% better now than he did this time last year, when he had to build a reserve side from scratch.

He added: "I have a very healthy squad from last year, with nine of the final starting 11 staying.

"Tim has also picked up some excellent additions (for the first team) so I feel that we are about 60% better off at this time than we were last season."

Speaking about the aspirations around the club, Robbins said: "The first team is the priority but will take time to settle.

"Initially the gulf between the first and reserve side will not be great.

"Although I expect to do well this season, I expect the first team to pull away from us.

"The youths are waiting for the current under 15s to come of age."

Robbins has arranged reserve team friendlies at Coney Hall (6th August), Bromleians (13th August) and Old Bexleians (20th August).

He is, however, searching for away matches for the 10th, 17th, 24th, 27th and 31st August.

He can be contacted on 07970 142 477.

* Meanwhile, Ashford Town goalkeeper, John Whitehouse, has been playing for Southern Leaguers Dartford during pre-season