Since arriving in Australia as a 23-year-old from England, Cooks Hill United’s Lee Ashton has found his way to the inner city club and quickly become one of the most dangerous attacking players in the NEWFM Northern League One competition. Boasting an impressive record of 42 goals in 44 games – at a ratio of nearly a goal a game- Lee has been an integral cog in the successful Cooks Hill team over the past three seasons. NEWFM NL1 Correspondent, James, caught up with the reigning golden boot winner to discuss his playing days in England, his work away from football and his ambitions for Cooks Hill moving forward.
Where and when did you start your junior career and how did you progress into senior football?
I played for a local team in Manchester, England for most of my junior playing career and then played semi-professionally for a team called Maine Road before moving out to Australia when I was 23.
Tell me about your playing history – What teams have you played for and when?
Since arriving in Australia in 2013, I played for Kotara South for one year, then in the NPL with South Cardiff for two years and Weston for one year. I started playing for Cooks Hill in 2017 and this is now my third year with the Cookers.
You’ve been a part of a very successful Cooks Hill side over recent seasons, what has been the key to the team’s continual success and longevity?
I think one of the major factors is that we have had a stable squad for the past three years with minimal changes. We all get on really well and it’s a great team environment to be involved in. This combined with the incredible amount of hard work, which goes on behind the scenes from the committee and coaching staff has really helped in our success in recent years.
Does the team have the ambition to want to play at a higher level and test yourselves in the NPL NNSW one day?
Yes definitely. I think if we are able to win the league again this year then we certainly deserve to be playing there. It’s a big step up, but most of the guys have already played in the NPL and know what it takes to compete in that competition.
You’re renowned for knocking in the goals, what’s the most important or best goal you have ever scored?
I think scoring in the Grand final win for Cookers in 2017 is up there. Also it was nice to score the first ever FFA Cup goal when playing for South Cardiff in 2014 – although Jarryd Johnson never lets it slide that I “stole” the goal from him.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not playing football?
I’m obsessed with all sport so when I’m not playing football, I’m either watching or playing another sport. I enjoy playing squash in the off-season and I’m doing my first marathon later in the year so training for that will take up a lot of my spare time.
What do you do for work? Are you currently studying? Or have you completed your studies, if so, in what field?
I’m a Researcher in Physical activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle. Currently I’m leading a non-for profit nutrition website, which helps young adults to eat better and improve health: https://nomoneynotime.com.au/. There’s also some great tips on there on what foods to eat to improve sports performance.
Most memorable moment(s) of your career so far?
I’d say winning the premiership with Cooks Hill on the last day of the season in 2017 was one of my most memorable moments. Also, the FFA Cup run with South Cardiff in 2014 where we got to the last 32 and played in Melbourne (unfortunately we lost) but the experience was incredible.
Most influential person in your career?
My mum. She was the one who took me to all my games as a kid and was there for every single game growing up. I wouldn’t be playing if it weren’t for her.
What are you hoping to achieve for this year’s season? Individually and as a team.
I just want to keep enjoying playing football and if we win a couple of trophies along the way then that’s great.