Jay May has hung up his boots, Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow has confirmed.
He returned and scored the only goal in Ashford’s Isthmian South East play-off semi-final win over Cray Valley but couldn’t get the Nuts & Bolts promoted as they lost their play-off final 2-0 at home to Herne Bay.
May enjoyed his fair share of success during his non-league career, playing for Warrilow at Tonbridge before they were re-united at Ashford - but Warrilow now says May has "called it a day".
“I have known Jay ages,” said Warrilow. “I know his phone would have gone.
“He may find an agreement with someone where he does not have to train all the time. He may find a club where someone just says ‘Just play when you can’.
“But I wish him all the best and thank him for his time with the club.”
Ashford have signed defender Ryan Sawyer.
Sawyer helped guide league rivals Corinthian to an eighth-place finish in their first season at that level but he has now left to link up with the Nuts & Bolts.
“We watched him last year a couple of times and we, obviously, played against him,” Warrilow explained. “He is a solid defender.
“He is 28 and coming into his prime. He will really support our best back four, back five or back three - whatever we decide to go with.
“Corinthian did fantastically last year but a few of their players have been snapped up and I know a few others were looking at Ryan so we are delighted to have brought him in.”
Tashi-Jay Kwayie has signed for recently-relegated Phoenix Sports, Tommie Fagg has joined National League South Tonbridge, Jarred Trespaderne is re-joining Hythe and Jack Steventon has also left Homelands, also signing for Hythe.
But Warrilow said: “I don’t think there’s a lot wrong. That was our second play-off final last year and, unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side again.
“We need to bring a few in, but I don’t think we need major surgery. There’s a few players we have let go and a few have made their own decision.”
A benefit match for injured Ashford midfielder Rhyle Ovenden took place at Homelands last Saturday.
Ovenden, 23, tore his cruciate knee ligament in the Nuts & Bolts’ 2-2 draw with Faversham on New Year’s Day and the game saw Ashford players past and present come together as a Ashford Green team and Ashford Yellow side took on one another, with the Yellows winning 6-5.
"There were loads of people there,” reflected Warrilow. “It was a good day for Rhyle. He is a good player and was a massive part of our squad last year.
“I said he can come down for pre-season. But the most important thing is that he gets his rehab right. He came away with a few quid - not just for the money he’s missing out on through football but other loss of earnings - so that was good.
“It was all for one lad, not for Ashford United.
"But it shows, as a club, we look after players as best we can.”
The club’s end-of-season presentation evening was held on the same day and saw striker Gary Lockyer take the golden boot, manager’s player-of-the-year was midfielder Josh Wisson, goal-of-the-season went to full-back Tariq Ossai, players’ player-of-the-year was Liam Friend and full-back Bradley Simms was crowned supporters’ player-of-the-year.
Ashford have arranged several friendlies, too, although they still have dates free on July 23 and July 30.
They will play Potters Bar (July 9), Eastbourne United (July 12), Kennington (July 16), Margate (July 26) and Charlton Athletic’s Academy (August 2) at home, with trips to Rochester United (July 19) and Folkestone (August 7).
The club have also announced veteran keeper Lee Hook has left the club and taken a coaching role with league rivals Ramsgate.