Past Legends - Ashley Sains
Player Legends 18 of 24

18. Past Legends - Ashley Sains


Stats: as at 5 Dec 2020
Cray Valley (PM) (2016 - 2020 )
Appearances 178
Goals 9
Penpix: Aug 2020
Now in his 5th season with The Millers, after joining from Lordswood, 25 year old former Lordswood man Ashley is a strong tackling “old school” central defender. Was a member of the London Senior Cup winning side in 2017 and featured as an integral part of the Club’s FA Vase run and Final appearance at Wembley in 2019, as well as guiding the Millers to the SCEFL championship and with it, promotion to the Isthmian League.
Ashley and Cray Valley (PM) parted ways in April 2021 and Ash subsequently signed for Sheppey United but will always be a club legend.

Interview Nov 2020
With the resumption of the season hopefully only days away, we conclude our look at the players currently at the Club who have made more than 100 first team appearances for the Millers. Richard J Green spoke to Ash.

Centre back Ashley holds the distinction in the current squad of playing the most first team games for the Club – his 177 appearances spanning five seasons and yielding 9 goals.
When he was at primary school in Chatham, Ashley “used to play football a lot with my neighbour – he was a little bit older than me – he taught me quite a lot”.
Little did he realise that by the age of 25 he would have achieved a “boyhood dream to play at Wembley.”

Joining his first club, Thamesview Youth at the age of eight, Ashley went on to play for other local teams, Black Lion and Real 60 before joining Hollands & Blair.
At sixteen, a move to Chatham Town saw him playing alongside Liam Hickey, under the management of current Millers supremo Kevin Watson.
A lack of game time under Watson saw youngster Ashley loaned out to Canterbury City for a spell, before leaving the Chats to spend a season at Corinthian alongside Denzel Gayle.
Not seeing “eye to eye with (Corinthian manager) Matt Longhurst”, 19 year old Ashley “fell out of love with the game and had a year out” before realising he was “genuinely missing it. You can never really ‘not miss football’” he went on to say.
“Then James Collins rang me totally out of the blue and asked me to go along to Lordswood. I done a pre-season with them – meeting up with Danny (Smith) for the first time –and ended up staying there for a couple of years. We were quite successful – finishing 4th in the SCEFL in 2015/16.
When James was offered the job at Cray Valley, I went with him. We done alright for the first couple of years but then James got sacked and Kevin came in.
Kev’s first game was a 6-0 defeat away to Leatherhead in the FA Cup and, remembering my time under him at Chatham, I was a bit sceptical of him so I stopped playing for 2/3 months. I wanted to follow James who had moved on to Chatham, but was tied to Cray on a contract so I had to stay put.
When I went back, after the first couple of training sessions Kev and I had a few words, sorted things out, and since then it’s been sweet – I think I’ve done alright for the Club.
My first game back was a cup game away to Sheppey – we played with four at the back. It was me, Tommy Osborne, Cem Tumkaya and Simon Glover - I was absolutely blowing after 70 minutes.
Then the following season, Jamesy (Kevin James) came in and we started playing more football, with three at the back. I started getting into Danny’s ear about coming back to Cray – I was getting in Kev’s ear as well – ‘cos Matty Parsons had left to join Chatham, and I knew that Danny was solid”.

So as the 2018/19 season gathered pace, the Millers found themselves competing at the top of the league and progressing in the FA Vase.
“It was a boyhood dream to play at Wembley – I didn’t really give it a thought. It didn’t really sink in until the second leg of the semi-final. Going into the game 1-0 up I thought, ‘we’re ninety minutes away from Wembley. If we win this, we’re at Wembley’. Winning the quarters, then going into the semi, you still think ‘it’s not going to happen – it don’t happen to yourself’. You think ‘this can’t be real’.
There were loads of people there - it was a bright sunny day…..
Then when Gav (Tomlin) went through and scored, and we went 2-0 up, it sunk in in the middle of the pitch. 2-0 up – we are going to Wembley!!.
Then they (Canterbury City), threw the kitchen sink at us, loading the box. But me, Cem and Brad (Potter) were just happy to kick and head anything that came near us – that is us. I’d back us against any strikers that came near us - nothing was going to get through”.

Along with a three way race for the Championship, and with it promotion, things were getting exciting.
“That season – for whatever reason – everyone wanted to beat Cray Valley. It was like a Cup Final for people. We had to be ‘on it’ every single game.
We knew we had to perform every single game – it was proper mind dragging.
We HAD to win every league game. We HAD to win every Vase game.
When the Vase games came along, adrenalin kicked in and we all became so pumped up…..…but with the league you had to perform every single week and it was tough.
We lost 3-2 at Hollands & Blair – Walks (Andy Walker) didn’t play. We had one or two rested. I ‘kicked one in’ -. We thought it should have been an easy win - we knew it was a must win, and we ‘mucked’ it up. We did not perform that day.
In the end of course, Corinthian ‘mucked’ up as well and we won it”.

And then to preparations for Wembley. “We had a three week gap between winning the league and the Vase Final. We spent the time training but everyone was being really cautious - afraid of injuring themselves or a team-mate, so it was very low key. Kev arranged a friendly at Dartford against a team of players he knew (Conor Dymond appeared for the opposition) so we could work on a few things”.

A big factor in the Millers success was two guys in the squad who provided the ‘X-factor’.
“Kevin Lisbie and Gav were massive – their knowledge and experience was enormous to us. They were the calming heads in the group. And they scored some very important goals.”

Throughout his playing days, Mum Sally, and Dad Darren have constantly been watching Ashley from the touchline “ever since I was a tiny kid”, joined latterly by “the missis”, Danielle.
“I don’t normally watch football – I hate watching – but if anyone, Man United would be my team.
I’ve always loved watching Beckham, Ronaldo, Rooney – they are my favourites – but Vidic is my idol. He’s very similar to me……………”
Then realism kicks in “I’ve always played as an old fashioned centre half – can’t be anything else really”.

We wouldn’t have you any other way Ash !!