Nathan Ashmore: I once quit goalkeeping after Portsmouth heartbreak - now I'm aiming for Football League
These days he’s back between the sticks – and eyeing promotion to the Football League.
Ashmore rose through the Blues’ ranks alongside Joel Ward and Matt Ritchie before let go at the age of 14.
Disheartened, the lad from Fratton reinvented himself as an outfield player, featuring on the right wing for Chichester City’s first-team as well as United Services reserves.
However, goalkeeping came calling once again, leading him to three promotions during fine service with the Hawks, Gosport and Ebbsfleet.
Now Ashmore is at Boreham Wood, whose fifth-placing in the National League puts them in the play-off frame against FC Halifax Town.
And the 30-year-old is relishing reaching another landmark in his eventful goalkeeping career.
He told The News: ‘After released by Pompey, I stopped being a goalkeeper. I didn’t think I was going to make it in that position, so thought it was the best thing.
‘I went on pitch instead, even playing for Chichester’s first-team as a 15-year-old. I came on for five minutes, that was it.
‘I was young, fit, and ran up and down the wing, but was terrible really. The closest I came to scoring was for United Services reserves at Burnaby Road, when I hit the post.
‘I soon realised playing out on pitch wasn’t what I wanted to do either. I was only good because I was quicker and stronger than anyone else at the age 15.
‘I was not actually that good, it wasn’t for me after all – so I came back the following season as a goalkeeper and stayed there.
‘Then I played one good game in front of the United Services manager and was put into their first-team at the age of 16, playing the next two years. It all started from there.
‘I’ve had promotions from Southern Division One, Southern Premier and Conference South, so it would be great to have the National League as another – and make it into the Football League.’
While carving out a reputation as a talented goalkeeper, Ashmore returned to Fratton Park for a trial on two occasions.
Most recently was during the 2013 pre-season under Guy Whittingham, working with then-goalkeeping coach Alan Knight, although the League Two club opted against a deal.
Nonetheless, he forged ahead with his career in non-league and is presently in the curious situation of being on loan at Boreham Wood, despite not having a club.
He added: ‘It ended very bitterly at Ebbsfleet. I was told I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the ground or first-team, I wasn’t allowed to train and had to stay away. Which was very tough.
‘I got a chance to move to Boreham Wood In October and grabbed it. I’m technically on loan, even though I’ve now been released by Ebbsfleet.
‘I can’t actually play the quarter-final, though, as I was sent off at Maidenhead in the last match before lockdown.
‘It’s the longest suspension ever – I’ve been waiting three-and-a-half months to serve it so far!’
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