No disgrace in defeat, says Ascot United FC chairman
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Proud: Dave Hancock led Ascot United out at the Racecourse on Saturday.
ASCOT United may have had to contend with the freezing weather, injuries, last-gasp equalisers and long away trips, but for those involved with their historic FA Vase run, it was a journey that will live long in the memory - not least because it resembled something of a soap opera at times.
A double postponement at Borrowash and a fruitless trip to the Isle of Wight, mixed in with the high drama of Jon Bennett's 95th-minute equaliser against Newport and the reverse happening at Shildon, made for an emotionally draining cup run, which finally came to an end on Saturday.
Player/manager Jeff Lamb said: "The low point was getting sent off and wondering how we're going to get back. For them to turn it round with 10 men and do what we did against Newport (IOW) is my best moment of the Vase.
"It was absolutely massive and just an unbelievable moment for me and for the club.
"The chairman told me it was the best moment he'd had in football.
"That's exactly what you want, especially for me being a new manager in the game.
"Those sort of occasions, you don't get them a lot and you've got to make the most of them."
Captain Dave Hancock highlighted how far the club have come since they first entered the FA Vase.
"Last season we got knocked out in the first round by Buckingham Town
1-0 here. That was a low point.
"We've gone to Borrowash, the Isle of Wight and all the drama with that. Every week there's been a new story.
"It's a season that none of us will ever forget.
"It's been great for the club, we've been put on the map and we've got a good entry level next season in the Vase and we'll go again."
The game against Newport must have been a bittersweet moment for Hancock, as he came back from holiday early especially for the tie but then got injured early on and was not on the pitch for the
"Jon's equaliser sums up our season and our run - we were down and out with 10 men and it sums up the spirit we've got here,"
He cites Borrowash as a personal highlight: "Everyone backed us to lose that game and we absolutely dominated them."
Chairman Mike Harrison is proud of the cup run and praised Saturday's opponents.
"It had to end somewhere and it was no disgrace to lose to an outstanding Shildon side who deserved their prize of a semi-final place.
"Although we lost we can reflect on a great run that took us through four home matches and up and down the country to Witney, Chinnor, South London, Borrowash, Isle of Wight and finally Shildon.
"The management and players achieved something that we would never have thought possible at the beginning of the season. We will always remember this season's Vase run of 10 matches and it will bring a smile to our faces."
He added: "Shildon are a great bunch of people who deserve to go all the way and we hope they go on and win it, they are certainly the best side to have ever visited the Racecourse."