rss twitter facebook mobile

Sympathy For West Ham’s Dean Ashton

Former Manchester United players are typically the only players to get a warm reception at Old Trafford. If a previously unheard of sub makes an appearance, they will get a chorus of “who the fuckin ell are you?”. If they’ve mouthed off at the ref over an incident or made a particularly nasty challenge on one of ours they will get booed every time they go near the ball. And God help them if they’ve ever played for Liverpool!

However, on a rare few occasions, our fans can be appreciative of the opposition.

The most obvious example is when Ronaldo (the real/fat/Brazilian one) came to Old Trafford for the European Cup quarter-final in 2003. We’d been batted at their place, with them going 3-0 up with less than 50 minutes played, Ruud van Nistelrooy face with a consolation goal to make it 3-1. We were up against it if we were going to progress to the semis, but it’s never say die at United.

Ronaldo got an away goal to cancel out Ruud’s with just 12 minutes played. Van Nistelrooy equalised just before half time, only for Ronaldo to put them 2-1 up on 50 minutes. An own goal put us back on a level playing field a couple of minutes later, but with less than an hour played, Ronaldo got his hattrick. David Beckham then came off the bench, obviously easy to impress against the club he was planning on leaving us for, and scored two goals to give us the 4-3 lead. It wasn’t enough to see us through but we’d just witnessed a bloody brilliant game of football and had to gracefully acknowledge we’d been knocked out by the better team.

In contrast to Steve McManaman, who’d received abuse all match, the crowd stood and applauded Ronaldo off the field when he was subbed with over 20 minutes to go, having done the job. A truly marvellous display.

Whilst not on the same level, Dean Ashton is a player who got a good reaction by our fans. We were drawing close to the end of the 2007-2008 season. In our last league game we’d lost to Chelsea and in our last match we’d beaten Barcelona to book our place in the Champions League final. Our nerves were in tatters.

West Ham, who had denied us the title in 1995 after miraculously keeping the ball out of the net, were coming to Old Trafford and they were going to be up for it.

Thankfully, before we even really had any time to worry, we were 3-0 up. Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed two whilst Tevez bagged the third with just over 25 minutes played. We were now surely just one game away from confirming the title with a win against Wigan.

However, the ball came to Dean Ashton in front of the Stretford End and with a superb over head kick he rifled the ball in to the back of Van der Sar’s net. So we shrugged and applauded him. That wasn’t much else we could do. It was a great goal.

He was linked to United at the time with us looking to bulk up our strikeforce. He seemed a likeable fella, was a United fan as a kid, and the manager liked him. When he signed a five year extension with West Ham a couple of months later, I was a little disappointed if I’m honest. I wasn’t desperate for us to sign him, but I liked him, and had wondered if we could have got him for a good price.

Regardless, the sad news is that, aged just 26-years-old, Ashton has been forced in to retirement. His initial ankle injury came three years ago and he’s never been able to properly shake it off.

“It’s a rubbish situation,” Ashton said yesterday. “I just want to be able to walk properly and, at the moment, I cannot. My health is obviously more important than football. I was told if I kept trying to play football, I might never walk again. I am going to hospital on Tuesday for a fifth operation. It’s unlikely I will ever be able to jog again, but right now, I can’t walk properly. My left ankle is still very sore. It will be a while before I feel okay and get over this disappointment. There is a bit of bitterness and I think ‘Why me?’. It’s a sad part of football. In August of this year, I tried to join in with the first team. I went to do a jog around the pitch, but at the end of second lap, I was struggling. The noise coming from my joint was terrible. Kieron Dyer thought it was my boots making the noise. I went to the side and was crying on the floor. This was the second time I’d broken down in tears. I knew this was it. Definitely. My last chance had gone. I was finished. The lads were all shocked and saddened to see me like that. Generally, I don’t show a lot of emotion so it was probably strange to see a big lad like me crying. But I knew that was it.”

Gutted for him.




------------
The Republik of Mancunia has brought out a brilliant downloadable World Cup preview. It contains 20 articles written by football experts on the countries our players will be representing in Brazil. There is also exclusive content from this country's top football journalists, such as Sid Lowe, Martin Lipton, Sam Wallace and Dominic Fifield. All profit is going to charity. More info on the RoM World Cup preview can be found here.

Minimum price is £4. Enter your e-mail address to receive the download and the price you would like to pay.

 

23 Comments

  1. I am just Dimitar says:

    Thats sad. Dean Ashton is a fun character and a good player.

  2. aig alex is god says:

    feel sad for him.looked a promising player despite his setbacks he did well at west ham.

  3. knightsmith says:

    It is very sad news for the lad indeed.

    I think all decent football ( and non football) fans everywhere would like to wish Dean all the very best in whatever he chooses to do from now on.

    He seems a decent chap, well respected by most.

    Lets all hope he he can recover some decent health and enjoy the rest of his life.

    Best wishes to him on whatever he chooses to do.

  4. Welbz19 says:

    Seems like a top guy absolutly devastated for him!!

  5. Costas says:

    Poor Dean. First of all, i hope his surgery goes well and he will be able to use his leg as much as possible. I hope life has something special in store for him down the road.

  6. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    When west ham lost there sponsership deal deano is quoted as saying “I guess I’ll be the only player with an xl jersey now”that’s sad news also what am overhead

  7. Fze123 says:

    What a tragedy. Wish him all the best with his surgery. Decent player too, who will not be able to play football again. That’s one of the downsides of the game, getting a career, or in some cases even life threatening injury.

  8. SqueakyRed says:

    I was at that game when fat Ronaldo got the standing ovation. Was very strange.

    Really bad news for Ashton. A shame for him.

  9. Pinhead says:

    i really this wont happen to our own Owen Hargreaves. Take your time to recover Hargo !
    as for Ashton, i was once a follower of him. A great lad with a good physique for a striker. Until injuries surrounded his career. What a shame that it happen at such an early age.

  10. raj k says:

    rio had no chance to defend that goal. wish he had recovered to do more of that.
    by the way, nice of you to write this piece scott!

  11. Adam Axon says:

    Well said Scott. I always thought that Ashton would have been a good signing for United, he just offered something different. Strong, powerful, he was a typical English center forward.

    He was a good talent and it’s a shame to see his Career come to a close in a premature fashion. A fit Dean Ashton would have done a great job for England in the World Cup, Alas

    All the best Dean.

    Adios,
    A

  12. Red Army says:

    Great player. Had a definite England career if he he wasn’t injured. Trust me, there is nothing worse than being told you can’t play football again. The game you grew up with taken away from you due to an injury that you couldn’t have prevented.

    Never knew he was a United fan growing up.

  13. READ CAREFULLY WHAT I says:

    I certainly hope that it proves to be the beginning of something better and not the end of his dreams.
    You never know in life what is around the corner and we should never take what we have for granted. I wish the guy nothing but good luck in the path he chooses and he deserves a change of luck from here on.
    He was a player I never liked to see on their teamsheet. That is the best compliment I can give him and I am sure his best is still to come.

  14. Callum says:

    The next time I get approached by a religious group in the street i’m going to ask them why this happened to Dean Ashton and not Ashley Cole.

  15. Big Bad Wesley Brown says:

    I hope he sues Wright-Phillips for every penny he’s got.

  16. rooninho says:

    good luck dean. he’s still young and hopefully was smart with his money. it’s sad bad at least he will hopefully have the resources and connections to fulfill the other ambitions in his life.

  17. catotraa says:

    That is so sad, I’ve always fancied Dean! A big loss for West Ham, as i saw him as a lethal striker. So strong, tall and, as we’ve seen, with alot of stunning finishes left in him. I was kinda hoping he’d go to United for quite a while, but now that he’s retired, I just want to wish him the best.

  18. King Eric says:

    Good post Scott. Sad news about Dean. A big powerful but great footed striker. All his family are United fans. Hope everything turns out well for him. A shame that injuries have blighted his short career. Could have become a top centre forward.

    That display by Ronaldo was one of the best I have seen. Awesome that night.

  19. ronaldeano10 says:

    iF HE WAS FIT HE WOULD SURELY BE THE MAN TO PARTNER WAZZA IN SOUTH AFRICA, WILL BE SADLY MISSED, ALWAYS THOUGHT HE WAS TOP NOTCH AND NEVER SEEN THE BEST OF HIM, REMEMBER HIM RUNNING CARRAGHER RAGGED IN THE CUP FINAL A FEW YEARS BACK AND DESERVED MORE THAN A RUNNERS UP MEDAL, ON RONALDO I WAS AT THAT MATCH AND WAS IN DISBELIEF HOW HE WAS ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL TO PLAYERS LIKE RIO AND RUUD AT THE TIME, PROBABLY THE BEST FORWARD OF ALL TIME AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME AND SHOULD STILL BE IN EUROPE NOW REALLY

  20. EastStandManc says:

    Absolutely gutted for him.

    We obviously share the same sentiments Scott, ’cause I found myself nodding with every word. After that match against WHU I managed to catch a glimpse of him boarding the team bus with a somewhat stern face and so I quickly shouted “Cheer up Deano, you know you love us really!”. The smile that beamed instantly across his face said it all.

    Good luck in the future Dean, from all us fellow Reds (but most importantly get well soon).

  21. Saad says:

    will miss the lad

  22. Fred says:

    I’ve decided I’m gonna buy a United shirt with “Ashton 9″ on the back. Any chance the club could arrange something for the home game against West Ham on February 27th? Perhaps a mosaic, or at least a banner in the Stretty?

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT BELOW

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log in with your Facebook or Twitter account: