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Tuesday 13th October 2015 @ 11:28 by Mark Phillip
Ashton Football Sports

As a non-league football fan, there’s nothing quite like an away day – that’s according to 18-year-old Oliver Newall anyway!

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The Curzon Ashton supporter has spent countless hours traversing the high ways and byways of England’s pleasant land, but his devotion to the club has taken on a fresh meaning of late, as the Sociology student has recently become the Supporters’ Club Chairman.

Essentially, Oliver has become a mouthpiece for the fans, and his unusually privileged position has afforded him the opportunity to take matters into his own hands. “Myself and a couple of other supporters decided to set up a Supporters’ Club membership scheme this season in a bid to improve the relationship between supporters and also better the link between the supporters and the board” he said.

“As chairman, it is my role to chair the meetings and be the main voice for all the supporters at Curzon.

“It is a role I’m very privileged to take on as Curzon has been such a huge part of my life and to now be actively involved is brilliant.”

Since he was a little boy, Oliver has been welcomed and embraced by the club, leading to a deep connection with everyone involved.

In a bid to strengthen community links, the youngster spent hours of his time at market stalls over Summer, preaching the gospel of Curzon Ashton.

As a borough, however, Tameside is saturated with football teams – including Droylsden, Mossley, Ashton United, Hyde United and Stalybridge Celtic – therefore, appealing to the general public is quite a challenging task.

However, Oliver is more than up for a challenge. He said: “We have never had the largest fan base and currently sit bottom of the attendance tables but our support is very much on the up.

“We have seen lots more of our junior teams coming down to support the first team, and we’ve also introduced new schemes to help improve our support including our ‘Bring-A-Friend’ scheme and our ‘Promotion Partners’.

“There are quite a lot of students that come down to watch The Nash but again we want this to increase as the season goes on.
“As a fairly small club the fact we offer the lowest admission in Tameside and one of the lowest in the league is fantastic.

“We could easily charge £14/£15 but as a club we recognise that the supporters come first and will continue to offer these great admission prices.”

Despite enjoying a meteoric rise up the football pyramid in recent years, attendances at the Tameside Stadium have failed to follow suit, and Curzon will undoubtedly find it hard to compete in the National League North this season.

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However, the Nash managed to pull off a shock result against high flying Nuneaton at the beginning of September, and managed to follow it up seven days later with a credible 2-2 draw at Worcester City.

Results since then have varied.

The Blues lost consecutive games against Solihull Moors and Salford City – the latter of which came in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round – but managed to secure two impressive victories against Tamworth and Lowestoft.

Manager John Flanagan believes that his side aren’t just in the league to make up the numbers this season.

His infectious optimism appears to be galvanizing the Curzon faithful – especially Oliver.

Questioned about the clubs fantastic achievements under Flanagan, Oliver suggested the word fantastic was an understatement. “For a club the size of us to achieve consecutive promotions is almost unheard of” he said.

“Did I think we could do it? Yes, but not in such a short period of time. Now it is all about consolidating our place in this division and hopefully building a bigger fan base and look to progress further as a club in the coming years.”

Oliver clearly has an unconditional love for the club, but why?
Like most football fans up and down the country, his infatuation with Curzon stems from his upbringing.

His father – who’s also a board member at the club – was quick to acquaint his son with the rocky terraces of National Park, which was the home of the Nash until their move to the £4million Tameside Stadium during the 2005-2006 season.

Five years prior to the move, and the club appointed Gary Lowe as their first team manager.

The appointment proved to be an inspired one, not only for Curzon, but for Oliver as well. He added: “My Uncle, Gary Lowe, was the manager for eleven years, so I’ve been heavily involved with the club ever since then.”

Nobody – not even Oliver’s father – could have foreseen what was about to unfold over the next ten years.

During his first season in charge, Gary took the club to the Worthington Challenge Trophy Final, but the team were denied silverware after losing out on penalties.

Fast forward seven years, and Truro City came between them and an appearance in the FA Vase Final.

However, they did manage to cap off their season in style, securing promotion to the Northern Premier League as runners up to FC United.

These were arguably some of Curzon’s finest moments, but according to Oliver, what occurred during the 2008-2009 season will live longer in the memory. He added: “Gary spent eleven years at the club which included many success stories, including a promotion, several play-off appearances and a run to the FA Trophy semi-final.

“Most memorably though, and possibly the biggest day in the clubs history, was a run to the FA Cup second round, where on the way we beat Tameside rivals Mossley, Hinckley United and Exeter City.”

Despite being knocked out of the second round by Kidderminster Harriers, Gary made history with the club that season, moulding himself as a club legend in the process.

Gary not only left the club in 2011 for Hyde United, but in doing so, he left a legacy.

Ironically, this marked the beginning of something magical for Curzon; memories created by Flanagan.

Oliver’s endured every high and low of this emotional rollercoaster, but has nothing but praise for his uncles successor. He said: “Over the last two seasons my personal highlight has to be the play-offs last season.

“We beat town rivals Ashton United in the semis in a thrilling match that went to penalties.

“That alone was an amazing highlight but to then go on and win the final against Ilkeston as well was an unbelievable achievement and will be many Curzon fan’s personal highlight.”

Thanks to Flanagan, Oliver can now relish trips to places like Stockport County, who they play at Edgeley Park on the last day of the season.

The club have already visited stadia such as FC United’s Broadhurst Park, as well as Telford Utd’s New Bucks Head.

As an appreciator of all things non-league though, Oliver certainly won’t forget where the club has come from.

Essentially, his love for the grass roots game supersedes anything places like Edgeley Park can offer.

Questioned on what he thinks the most rewarding thing about supporting a non-league club is, Oliver said: “I couldn’t pick one thing because non-league as a whole is so rewarding.

“The family feeling around the clubs, the close relationship everyone at clubs have between players, supporters, management etc.

“The away days are fantastic! To be able to walk all the way around a ground and get to know away supporters makes non-league was it is.”

Since mid-September, Oliver has become a Sheffield University student.

However, come sunshine or rain– or snow for that matter – you can’t discount Oliver from games this season. He added: “I started University on the 19th September, and fortunately there are less midweek games this season due to the fact we now play in the National League North, so I won’t have to commute back midweek.

“I will however have to dash back to watch Saturday games. Ill also be making a few trips to Sheffield FC during my time at university.”

Although a new chapter in life is about to open, one chapter will never have an ending.
Regardless of the division they find themselves playing in, Curzon will always be a club that Oliver holds dear – and that’s the beauty of non-league football!