|Full name||Lee Ashcroft|
|Date of birth||7 September 1972|
|Place of birth||Preston, England|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Winger / Striker|
|1987–1993||Preston North End||91||(13)|
|1993–1996||West Bromwich Albion||90||(17)|
|1995||→ Notts County (loan)||6||(0)|
|1996||→ Preston North End (loan)||7||(3)|
|1996–1998||Preston North End||57||(19)|
|2002||→ Port Vale (loan)||3||(0)|
|2002||→ Huddersfield Town (loan)||4||(0)|
|2004||→ Chorley (loan)||3||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Lee Ashcroft (born 7 September 1972) is an English former footballer and football manager.
An England under-21 international, the striker began his playing career at Preston North End in 1987. Six years later he was sold on to West Bromwich Albion for £250,000. Loaned out to Notts County in 1995, he returned to Preston North End for £150,000 in September 1996. He transferred to Grimsby Town £500,000 in August 1998, before being sold on to Wigan Athletic in August 2000 for £350,000. Loaned out to Port Vale and Huddersfield Town, he was released in 2003 and joined Conference club Southport, before ending his career with a six-year spell with Kendal Town. He also managed Kendal from 2006 until 2012, before taking the management job at Northwich Victoria in November 2012. He lost his job in December 2013 after vocally abusing a female coach earlier in the year.
Ashcroft made it through the youth ranks at Preston North End to turn professional at the Fourth Division club under John McGrath. Preston won promotion in 1986–87 after finishing as the division's runners-up. After retaining their Third Division status in 1987–88, the "Lilywhites" qualified for the play-offs in 1988–89, but lost out to Port Vale at the semi-final stage. Following this disappointment they dropped down to just two places outside the relegation zone in 1989–90. Preston finished 17th in 1990–91 and 1991–92 under Les Chapman, before suffering relegation in 1992–93 under the management of John Beck.
In August 1993, Ashcroft moved on to West Bromwich Albion, after manager Keith Burkinshaw splashed out £250,000. Ashcroft scored a vital headed goal on the final day of the 1993–94 season, in a 1–0 win at Portsmouth, to keep Albion in the First Division. The club again flirted with relegation in 1994–95 under the stewardship of Alan Buckley, finishing two places above the relegation zone. Ashcroft scored four goals for Albion in 1995–96.
In March 1996, Ashcroft was loaned out to Notts County, playing six games for the club. Colin Murphy's team went on to reach the Second Division play-off final in 1995–96, losing out 2–0 to Bradford City. Still out of the first team picture at West Brom in 1996–97, he was loaned out to former club Preston North End in September 1996, before Gary Peters made the deal permanent two months later for £150,000. He finished the campaign with eight Second Division goals for Preston, also scoring three goals in cup competitions. He finished as the club's top scorer with 16 goals in 46 games in 1997–98, bagging a hat-trick against Fulham at Deepdale on 29 November.
Ashcroft moved to First Division club Grimsby Town for a club-record £500,000 in August 1998, in a move that reunited him with former manager Alan Buckley. He failed to live up expectations, scoring just four goals in 29 appearances in 1998–99, spending much of the season out with injury. He found his form though in 1999–2000, scoring 13 goals in 40 games to help the "Mariners" finish five points above the relegation zone.
In August 2000, he moved to Wigan Athletic, after manager Bruce Rioch bought the striker for £350,000. He scored six goals in 36 appearances in 2000–01, helping the "Latics" into the Second Division play-offs, where they were beaten by Reading at the semi-final stage after losing 2–1 at the Madejski Stadium. He scored just three goals in 17 games in 2001–02, whilst picking up seven yellow cards and one sending off. Wigan won promotion at the end of the 2002–03 season under Paul Jewell's stewardship, though Ashcroft did not feature in any league games at the JJB Stadium. He instead joined Port Vale on loan in October 2002. After four appearances for Brian Horton's "Valiants", he moved on to Huddersfield Town in December of the same year, again on loan. Huddersfield were so short of funds at the time that the loan could only go through when a wealthy supporter agreed to pay Ashcroft's wages. He appeared four times in the Second Division under Mick Wadsworth, before returning to Wigan, where he was released in February 2003. Later in the month he moved down to non-league Southport, taking up the role of player-coach at the age of 30. He scored twice in eleven Conference games, as the "Sandgrounders" were relegated at the end of the 2002–03 season. A year later he moved to Kendal Town, where he scored 23 goals in the 2004–05 season.
On 12 May 1992 in Budapest, Ashcroft came on as a substitute for his only England under-21 cap against Hungary in a 2–2 draw. He played alongside several future full internationals including Ian Walker and Andrew Cole.
In November 2006, Ashcroft was promoted from Kendal Town club captain to the position of manager. He led the "Field" to a 19th-place finish in 2006–07 in the Northern Premier League, one place but 12 points above the relegation zone. Following an eleventh-place finish in 2007–08, Kendal qualified for the play-offs in 2008–09, but lost out to Ilkeston Town at the semi-final stage. On 3 October 2009, he was sent off for using "abusive and/or indecently insulting words towards match officials", and was subsequently banned for three months from all football activity (including training sessions). Despite this, he managed the "Town" to another fifth-place finish in 2009–10, though again they lost at the play-off semi-final stage, after defeat to Bradford Park Avenue. Kendal finished seventh in 2010–11, finishing five points outside the play-offs. They finished eleventh in 2011–12, and reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.
In November 2012 Ashcroft became manager of Northwich Victoria, becoming their fifth permanent manager of the calendar year. They went on to finish eighth in the Northern Premier League Division One South in 2012–13. In the match against Gresley on 12 January, Ashcroft used abusive words towards a female coach, allegedly in relation to her gender. The FA handed Ashcroft a ten match touchline ban and £1,200 fine which – he denied the charge and lodged an appeal. Despite the incident, he was still named as the division's manager of the month for January. The suspension was postponed until December 2013, at which point Ashcroft changed roles at Northwich to director of football as Jim Gannon took over as manager.
- with Preston North End
- Northern Premier League Division One South Manager of the Month: January 2013
- McOwan, Gavin (2002). The Essential History of West Bromwich Albion. Headline. p. 160. ISBN 0-7553-1146-9.
- Hubbert, Richard (6 August 2001). "Played for the Town: Lee Ashcroft". ElectronicFishcake.com. Archived from the original on 15 April 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Latics sign new striker". BBC Sport. 4 August 2000. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Vale set for Ashcroft signing". BBC Sport. 9 October 2002. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Terriers snap up Ashcroft". BBC Sport. 19 December 2002. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Fan pays striker's salary". BBC Sport. 13 December 2002. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Wigan release Ashcroft". BBC Sport. 6 February 2003. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Southport appoint Ashcroft". BBC Sport. 28 February 2003. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- Courtney, Barrie (10 January 2004). "England – U-21 International Results 1986–1995 – Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Kendal Town History – 2006/7 update". kendaltownfc.co.uk. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- O'Kane, Patrick (6 March 2010). "Kilford steps into the frame as Ashcroft's Kendal Town ban is upheld". The Westmorland Gazette. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "Northwich Victoria appoint Lee Ashcroft as manager". Cheshire Today. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- "Ashcroft given lengthy ban". 29 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "Northwich Victoria boss Lee Ashcroft banned for 10 games". BBC Sport. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Jowett, Andy (1 February 2013). "Northwich Victoria boss Lee Ashcroft named Manager of the Month". Cheshire Today. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "Gannon returns to management with Northwich Victoria". twentyfour7football.com. Retrieved 10 December 2013.