I’m not a huge football fan but even I know Euro 2016 is happening at the moment. My dad is still smarting over England’s defeat against Iceland and their consequent elimination from the tournament. But did you know that England’s recently-resigned football manager played football for Ashford?
Roy Hodgson was born in Croydon, Surrey and went to John Ruskin Grammar School. He became a moderately successful youth player with Crystal Palace and then played non-League football for several years with Kent teams: Tonbridge Angels and Gravesend and Northfleet.
Aged 23, he trained as a football coach and joined Maidstone United, where he played and was also assistant manager. A year later, in 1972, after a year at Maidstone, he moved to Ashford whilst also working as a PE teacher at Alleyn’s School in South London. Hodgson turned out for Ashford in the 1972-73 season when the Nuts and Bolts (so-named because many of the original members were also railway engineers) reached the FA Trophy semi-final. He played 30 games for Ashford Town and bagged three goals before leaving in December 1972.
Of course, Ashford has a long and proud history of football. In 1891, the original Ashford United was formed when the South Eastern Rangers amalgamated with Kentish Express FC. The club was a founding member of the Kent Premier League in 1894–95 with a reserve side playing in Kent League 2. They are now based at the Homelands Stadium at Kingsnorth in Ashford. Ashford Town went out of business in 2010 but they reformed as Ashford United to compete in the Kent Invicta League, thus continuing Ashford’s distinguished footballing heritage.