The Vets section has been running for many years and has always been a place for people connected with the club to extend or return to their playing careers. A recent survey uncovered that the squad in aggregate had played over 8,000 games for Ascot United and coached over 2,500 youth team games and coached around 3,500 youth team training sessions. Many of the current Vets squad first met each other playing football for various Ascot United kids teams aged 7 and 8.
The Vets also have an annual tour and have had some great times and played against some great teams since Andy Mellor arranged the first tour in 2014 – a Vets tournament in Millen near Maastricht. Since then, we have had tours in Lisbon, Barcelona, Valencia, Frankfurt, Bern and Bournemouth (pandemic related!). We have played against some great opposition at great facilities including Valencia Vets and their main training ground, Levente Vets and Young Boys of Berne Vets on the pitch next to the Stade to Suisse stadium on the morning of their FA Cup Final (google the name, it may make you giggle).
We spoke to manager, Dave Good about the 2021/22 season and what the future looks like for the Vets section at Ascot United.
What’s been your standout moments as a squad?
There have been many standout moments but one of them was as we began to grow from a band of about 18 to an orchestra of about 45. We had our first Vets vs Vets game which is known as the Icons v Legends match. We run these at least once a year and it is a great celebration for the whole squad to compete against each other before drinking the bar a little dry. Our first game of League football was pretty good fun and we played the very first competitive game on the new 3G facility and scored the first ever competitive goal on the new pitch. Dave Porter with a slide rule pass off the outside of his foot into the path of a sprinting Ben Standing who fired it into the far corner. A goal fit for such an occasion.
“I am hugely proud of what we have built. I love the job and we have a brilliant group of talented footballers who continue to play high quality football. We play with Cruyff in mind, not Mourinho.”Dave Good
What impelled the introduction of a second Vets team?
We exist for one reason only. Our purpose is to provide competitive 11 a side football at great facilities for as long as people want to extend their playing career. So as the squad grew it became obvious that in order to meet this purpose we will need to run a second team. We tested it and it worked so we entered a second team in the West London Vets league. Going forward we are certain to continue to live our purpose and there will shortly be a need to build a third team to play in the West London Super Vets league – 1st XI, 2nd XI and SuperVets XI.
100 goals scored at the club, quite some feat, tell us about that moment and what it means to you as the manager?
The first team scored over 100 league goals this season. This happened in our last match and at the time no-one realised it. When I worked it out whilst writing the match report it turned out to be wonderful. I absolutely loved the goal that gave us this milestone as it connected the founders of the Vets section to the current squad – a real fathers and sons moment. This is covered with one of the paragraphs in the end of season review – we are big on our history and our founders – even when you look forward you have to acknowledge those that built the foundations.
Impressive cup runs seems to be a theme across the club at Ascot, tell us about the Vets one.
It was an exciting cup run. Last season we were a division 1 side and in the first rounds of the cup we kept drawing premier league teams. We beat all of them to get to the semi-final. We lost to a very strong West London Rams team captained by Jodie Morris and featuring a lot of his professional footballing friends. This was frustraing because we had beaten them earlier in the season at their place with one of the best ever collective sessions from any Ascot United Vets team in our history.
What’s the future looking like for the Vets section at Ascot?
Connecting to our purpose and growing. We are now very closely connected to the club and that will continue as we engage first team players who want to extend their playing careers and the coaches of kids teams who want to restart their playing careers. There are some amazing stats on games played and coached by the Vets squad in the Programme article. The first XI have just been promoted to the Premier League and the standard is wonderfully high and we can’t wait to compete, the second XI are now established in Division Three and we believe a Super Vets team could also be on the horizon. Happy days.
We seem to grow year on year and now have 50 registered players in the squad, so whilst we’re not actively looking for new players, we will continue to accept those who want to join and play.
Up the Yellas!