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Ashford United forward Ian Draycott knows he made the right move | Frontman says he’ll keep playing for as long as his body allows

Ian Draycott’s decision to join Ashford United is working out nicely for the experienced forward.

Draycott, 35, had a big call to make after the curtain came down on nine years at Folkestone.

Ashford United forward Ian Draycott. Picture: Ian Scammell
Ashford United forward Ian Draycott. Picture: Ian Scammell

He departed Cheriton Road last summer as Invicta’s all-time record scorer with 150 goals in 361 appearances.

The next move had to be right.

“It was a big decision,” said Draycott, who added to Vance Bola’s opener as Ashford came from a goal to win 2-1 at Chichester in Isthmian South East on Saturday.

“There were quite a lot of discussions over the summer trying to find that right club for me at this point in my career.

“I was looking for somewhere that fits from a personal side of things and my life outside football but at the same time gives me an opportunity to win something or have some more success.

“I wanted to find a family-orientated club that I could hopefully settle in at over the next couple of years and potentially finish my career there.

“Ashford ticked the most boxes and I’m really happy with the decision in terms of being a big change from Folkestone.

Ian Draycott gets stuck in for Ashford. Picture: Ian Scammell
Ian Draycott gets stuck in for Ashford. Picture: Ian Scammell

“Any club would have been a big change from Folkestone - it’s quite a unique set-up there - and it’s taken a bit of time to find my feet but I’m really enjoying it and hopefully over the last month that’s replicated on the pitch with how well we’re doing.”

Draycott has thrived as one of three No.10s in manager Kevin Watson’s system.

It’s a new way of working for the ex-Maidstone and Lewes man but one he’s enjoying.

He intends to keep playing for a good while yet and, taking the opportunity to learn from Watson, would like to move into coaching and management one day.

“I’ll carry on playing as long as my body will let me,” said Draycott.

“I love non-league and everything that comes with it, so I plan to be in and around it even when my playing time finishes.

“That’s another reason why Kev was a good option and the staff we have at Ashford because they are so different from the managers I’ve played with over the last 10/12 years, especially from a tactical side of things and how they approach the game.

“It’s been brilliant for me to learn another side of football and take bits from them as well.

“Coaching and management is an area that interests me.

“Maybe not straight into management but some sort of staff or player-coach role over the next couple of years is something I’d be interested in.

“I spoke to a couple of clubs about that in the summer and over the last couple of years I’ve spoken to a couple of clubs about a player-coach role but I decided I wanted to concentrate on playing while I can.

Ian Draycott has settled into life at Ashford United. Picture: Ian Scammell
Ian Draycott has settled into life at Ashford United. Picture: Ian Scammell

“Once I can no longer do that and the body won’t let me, it’ll be time to move into the coaching side of things.

“At the minute, everything’s OK, which is probably why I haven’t got an end goal when I want to stop.

“I still think I can contribute at this level both on and off the pitch so at the minute I’m fully concentrating on the playing side and learning different approaches from the coaching staff.”

Ashford remain fifth in the table despite losing 2-0 at home to Watson’s old club Cray Valley on Tuesday night.

They’re firmly in play-off contention having shown different ways of picking up results, and host Lancing this Saturday (3pm).

“We’ve been on a good run,” said Draycott.

“There have been times when we’ve played nice attacking football and looked pleasing on the eye but we’ve also shown the other side of our game where we can all muck in and defend really well as a team, so that’s probably been the most pleasing thing.

“If you look at most of our games they’re decided by the odd goal, and we’ve also come back and won games from losing positions, so that’s another string to our bow.

“We’ve got a real strong squad where anyone, at any point, can play in those positions and everyone’s pushing to get in the starting XI.

“Everyone will contribute through the season, I’m sure of that.

“I’m happy with where we’re at. I’m always learning, hopefully always progressing and if we continue our current form you’ll see us up and around it at the end of the season.”

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