Captain Bradley Simms says it was a massive honour to lead Ashford out on their return to Homelands.
The Nuts & Bolts beat Burgess Hill 1-0 in their first game on the new 3G pitch on Saturday, with Vance Bola scoring the winner in front of more than 400 fans.
It was an emotional day for the club as they paid tribute to steward Mark Reed following his death last month.
Simms, Tariq Ossai and Ben Gorham presented flowers to the family before kick-off.
“It was a massive honour to lead the team out,” said Simms.
“Being back at Homelands and getting the win for Mark, who was one of our own, really meant a lot.
“We knew it was a big day for his family and we wanted to make them proud and the Ashford fans proud because they came out in their numbers.”
Ashford started the season playing home games at Chatham while the new pitch was laid and Simms hadn’t realised how much he would miss Homelands.
He said: “At the start I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a problem being away from Homelands.
“Some people say home advantage isn’t always a thing and at the time I was one of those people.
“But being back there was a whole different feeling.
“Chatham’s a nice ground but there’s nothing like playing at your home ground, with your home fans, and the pitch was lovely.”
Long-serving Simms was surprised to be offered the captaincy by manager Kevin Watson this season.
It’s a role he’s embraced and one made easier by his team-mates.
“I didn’t think Kev was going to give me the captaincy if I’m honest,” said Simms.
“I thought it would go to Ben Gorham or Connor Dymond but I’m 100% up to the task and I’m blessed to be captain.
“I think the boys would say I’m quite laid-back with it.
“I’ve never liked captains that shout for no reason, so I try and talk to the boys on a level in training and in games.
“We’ve got a few older heads and I don’t ever have to overstep the mark and shout and bawl because everyone has a lot of respect for each other.
“Because we all get along so well, the boys have made it very easy for me to be captain.”
Simms needed his team-mates’ guidance playing in a less familiar position against Burgess Hill.
A right-back by trade, he was employed in a more advanced role.
“We played with three No.10s behind the striker and I played right side of the three,” said Simms.
“It was a different position but it ended up working quite well with me and Tariq (Ossai) on the same side.
“I’ve played there before, so it wasn’t too unfamiliar, but everyone knows my natural position is full-back or wing-back.
“I just kept telling the midfielders to talk to me - Rhyle (Ovenden) and Harvey (Brand) behind me - and I had Ian Draycott next to me talking me through it positional-wise as well.”
Ashford, in fifth, are looking for a fourth successive league win when they visit sixth-placed Sittingbourne on Saturday (2pm).
“I’m not surprised how many points we’ve got (16 from eight games),” said Simms.
“Kev always told us it would come.
“The Phoenix game (5-3) was a big loss for us and East Grinstead (6-0) was a massive shock to everyone but results like that sometimes mould a team.
“We said to each other, ‘That isn’t happening again’ and you can see the determination and dedication of the boys in training. We still have a laugh but we’re so focused.
“I’d happily go the rest of the season winning every game 1-0.
“A win and a clean sheet - that’s all you want.”
Ashford beat Hythe 7-6 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the League Cup on Tuesday night.