Ashton United F.C.
|Full name||Ashton United Football Club|
|Founded||1878 (as Hurst F.C.)|
|Ground||Hurst Cross, Surrey Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 8DY|
|Capacity||4,500 - 250 seated|
|Manager||Paul Phillips/Steve Halford|
|League||Northern Premier League
|2013–14||Northern Premier League
Premier Division, 5th
Ashton United Football Club is an English football club, based in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. They play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division at the seventh level of the English football league system.
The club was originally founded in 1878 as Hurst F.C. and the earliest known match report dates back to March 1879. By 1880 the club were playing at Hurst Cross, their current ground. This makes their home one of the oldest football grounds in the world. The club first entered the FA Cup in 1883 and became the first club in the Manchester area to play a home FA Cup tie as Hurst beat Turton in reaching the 2nd round at their first attempt. In 1885 Hurst beat Newton Heath (forerunners of Manchester United) 3–0 in the final of the inaugural Manchester Senior Cup. Later the same year a Lancashire Cup Tie against FA Cup holders Blackburn Rovers set a ground attendance record of over 9,000.
The club's first league was the Ashton & District League and, after a period of inactivity, in 1909 Hurst joined the Manchester League. The club finished joint top in 1910 (losing a play-off for the title to Salford United) then won the Championship outright in 1912 before joining the Lancashire Combination the following season. The club switched leagues again in 1923, joining the Cheshire County League.
Just prior to World War II Hurst signed one of the star players of the period, Dixie Dean, but the outbreak of hostilities ended his spell at the club. The club resumed playing after the war and changed their name to Ashton United in 1947 before re-joining the Lancashire Combination later that year. The 1950s brought success in various cup competitions with four Manchester Challenge Cup wins and a Manchester Intermediate Cup triumph allied to two appearances in the first round of the FA Cup in 1952 and 1955.
Floodlights were installed at Hurst Cross in 1953 and inaugurated with a 4–3 win over Wigan Athletic on 29 September that year; club record goalscorer Stuart Dimond getting the club's first goal under lights. During the 1954–55 season Hurst Cross staged the first Football Association approved floodlit competition, the Lancashire and Cheshire Floodlit Cup. Ashton United, Wigan Athletic and Nelson of the Lancashire Combination and Mossley, Macclesfield Town, Droylsden, Hyde United and Stalybridge Celtic from the Cheshire County League were invited to compete for the trophy, eventually won by Hyde United. The competition was repeated the following season with Winsford United taking the place of Wigan Athletic; Hyde United were again successful.
In 1960 a young Alan Ball made his Ashton debut at the start of a long and glorious career. The club won the Lancashire Combination Second Division in 1961 before moving to the Midland League in 1964 then back to the Lancashire Combination in 1966. Ashton returned to the Cheshire County League once more in 1968 and remained members until the league folded after the foundation of the North West Counties League in 1982.
In 1988 Ashton won the 2nd Division of the North West Counties League and in 1992 lifted the Championship of the First Division, earning a place in the Northern Premier League First Division for the first time in the club's history. After a decade of near misses Ashton finally won promotion to the Premier Division of the NPL in 2002 – in the same season Ashton's Gareth Morris scored the fastest FA Cup goal, registered at four seconds against Skelmersdale United. The 2002–03 season saw Ashton lift the Manchester Premier Cup for the third season in a row under manager Gerry Quinn and in 2004 Ashton scraped into the final available place for the newly formed Conference North, but their stay lasted just one season before returning to the Northern Premier League in 2005. Danny Johnson was appointed manager in April 2007 and led the club to a 10th place finish in 2008, ensuring the club celebrated their 130th anniversary with their highest ever finish in the NPL, a mark which was then bettered with a 9th placed finish in 2009.
In February 2010 the club were found liable in a ground-breaking piece of litigation brought by a player who suffered an on-pitch injury in 2005. Previous similar cases had failed before criminal courts as they attempted to prove assault had caused harm, whereas this case was heard before a civil court which worked on the balance of probability and found for the complainant, Marcus Hallows. Hallows was originally awarded damages of £32,000 plus costs, a sum the club could not afford. The club's subsequent appealed failed, however further negotiations with Hallows' legal team saw the two parties reach an undisclosed settlement agreement that allowed Ashton United to avoid going into liquidation.
Danny Johnson stayed as manager for six seasons, achieving a mid-table finish on each occasion; the highlight of his reign being the club's Northern Premier League Challenge Cup final win in 2011 with a 1–0 win over Northwich Victoria - the winning goal scored by a former Vics player, Aaron Burns. When Johnson resigned at the end of the 2012-13 season to take over at Nantwich Town, his assistant, Craig Robinson, was appointed as his successor in a player-manager capacity in May 2013 but resigned for personal reasons before the season started, which saw coach Paul Phillips promoted to joint-manager alongside former Mossley manager Steve Halford. The pair led Ashton to the club's highest ever points tally in the division (80)  and, as a result, qualified for the end-of-season promotion play offs - where they won a thrilling encounter at FC United of Manchester with the winning goal of a 2-1 victory coming in extra time  before losing out to AFC Fylde on penalties, having drawn the final 1-1.
As of End of 2013-14 season Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
The club initially played at Holebottom on Smallshaw, then at Rosehill – both of which were close to the their current ground. Records indicate that the club started playing their football at Hurst Cross in 1880, making the area one of the oldest surviving, constantly used football venues in the world.
The current capacity is 4,500. The Sid Sykes Stand provides 250 seats and covered standing accommodation is available in the Popular Stand on the opposite side of the ground. Open terracing is available at both ends of the ground.
- Best league position: 14th in Northern Premier League, Premier Division (then level 6), 2003–04
- Best FA Cup performance: 2nd Round, 1883–84 and 1885–86
- Best FA Trophy performance: quarter-final, 1996–97
- Best FA Vase performance: 4th round, 1992–93
- Record victory: 13–1 v Marple (Lancashire Combination), 22 February 1919
- Record away victory; 9-0 v Droylsden (Northern Premier League), 1 January 2014
- Record attendance: As Hurst – 9,001 v Blackburn Rovers (Lancashire Senior Cup 2nd Round), 18 November 1885 / As Ashton United – 7,824 v Halifax Town (FA Cup 1st Round Replay) 24 November 1952 (The actual attendance for the Halifax game was estimated as being closer to 8,500 due to people entering for free through a gate that was forced open.)
- Northern Premier League President's Cup
- Winners – 1994, 1997, 1999
- Runners-up – 2003
- North West Counties League Division Two
- Champions – 1987–88
- North West Counties Floodlit Cup
- Runners-up – 1990–91
- North West Counties League Challenge Cup
- Winners – 1992
- Lancashire Combination Division One
- Champions – 1916–17
- Runners-up – 1914–15
- Lancashire Combination 2nd Division
- Champions – 1961–62
- Lancashire Combination Cup
- Winners – 1961–62
- Manchester League
- Champions – 1911–12
- Runners-up – 1909–10
- Manchester Senior Cup
- Winners – 1885, 1914, 1976, 1978
- Manchester Junior Cup
- Winners – 1894, 1911, 1933
- Manchester Challenge Cup
- Winners – 1936, 1939, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1955
- Manchester Intermediate Cup
- Winners – 1959, 1963
- Manchester Premier Cup
- Winners – 1980, 1983, 1992, 2001, 2002, 2003
Famous former players
Minimum criteria for inclusion; to have played for Ashton United FC and to have attained either international honours or major domestic success during their playing/management career.
- Manchester Premier Cup
- http://evostikleague.pitchero.com/robinson-steps-up-at-hurst cross-14480/