Dannie Bulman was the first player to move from Short Lane into the Football League when he signed for Wycombe Wanderers in the summer of 1998 for a fee of £10,000 which was a record transfer fee involving a Combined Counties League club. Dannie's legacy is a significant one, as the fee helped the club to construct the Main Stand.
He became a cult hero among the Wanderers faithful after scoring on his debut with his first touch... which was off his backside! Dannie played almost 250 times for the Chairboys' First Team before moving to Stevenage Borough, who were then in the Conference, in 2004. A three year spell at Broadhall Way was ended by a loan move to Crawley Town, which was then made permanent. Dannie moved to Oxford United in 2009 and helped them to win promotion back to the Football League, before returning to Crawley and helping the Red Devils to the Conference Championship.
Brett Johnson (via Aldershot Town)
Brett Johnson started his career at Ashford Town (Middlesex) before being signed by (then non-League) Aldershot Town in 2004. An impressive season for Aldershot saw Johnson attracting interest from several League clubs. He eventually signed for Northampton Town. He managed just 26 league games in three seasons for the Cobblers, which also included loan spells at Gravesend & Northfleet and Grays Athletic.
It was announced that he would be released by Northampton Town at the end of the 2007–08 season, when his contract expired. Brett signed a one-year contract for Brentford on 5 August 2008 after a successful trial spell. He was released at the end of the season and moved to AFC Wimbledon, playing alongside fellow former Tangerine Ricky Wellard in the 2011 Football Conference Play-off Final, which Wimbledon won on penalties. He returned to the Football League with the Dons, before spending time on loan at Cambridge United. He joined Woking in August 2012.
Jermaine McGlashan signed for Ashford in December 2009, having helped Merstham to eliminate the Ash Trees from the Surrey Senior Cup. The tricky winger had played for Staines Town and Bracknell Town before spells at Kingstonian and Raynes Park Vale. Jermaine quickly became a fans favourite for his pace and willingness to take on defenders, but his spell at Ashford ended on a low note, after it transpired that he had missed a cruicial home fixture against Canvey Island in order to play as a triallist for Bristol Rovers, who were subsequently fined by The FA for failing an "illegal approach" to the player.
At the end of the 2009-10 season, Jermaine participated in trials for Hayes & Yeading United and Southampton before signing for Aldershot Town, for whom he made 25 appearances in his first Football League season and agreed a contract extension. Having enjoyed an impressive start to the 2011-12 season, Jermaine was transferred to Cheltenham Town for a reported fee of £60,000, helping the Robins reach the promotion play-off Final at Wembley, which they lost to Crewe Alexandra. Jermaine also helped his club reach the play-offs in 2012-13, where they were defeated by Northampton Town.
Like Jermaine McGlashan, Femi Ilesanmi had a short spell with the club, signing in February 2010 after playing a few matches on trial for Dagenham & Redbridge during a career that had begun at AFC Wimbledon and had also included time on the books at Queens Park Rangers. The Daggers monitored the full-back's performances during the final months of the 2009-10 season in which Femi scored a bizarre goal in the last game, a 6-2 defeat to Harrow Borough which, when coupled with other results, meant Ashford Town were relegated for the first time.
Femi's 14 appearances in Tangerine & White were enough to earn him a contract with Dagenham & Redbridge. Having had a loan spell in the Conference with Histon, Femi has gone on to play League One football and was sufficiently highly-rated at Dagenham to be given a further two-year contract. He played 46 times for the Daggers in the 2012-13 season.
Byron Harrison (via Carshalton Athletic)
Byron Harrison had played for a number of clubs without ever seeming to settle before Mark Butler brought him to Ashford. The tall striker settled quickly at the club and scored eight goals in the final weeks of the 2007-08 season. Byron added 26 goals the following season, including the opening goal in the Surrey Senior Cup Final win over Woking. Byron continued this form through the opening months of the 2009-10 season and finished that campaign as the club's leading goalscorer with 19 goals, despite withdrawing his services on the evening of a match at Horsham in a dispute with the club and never playing in Tangerine & White again. His record was 53 goals in 109 appearances.
By that point, a number of Football League clubs had watched Byron regularly, but only Southend United had offered a trial, which was not then followed up. Kettering Town of the Football Conference did offer the tall striker a professional contract, but this was turned down and Byron instead linked up with former Ashford boss Mark Butler, who paid a small fee to bolster his squad as he endeavoured to keep Carshalton Athletic in the Isthmian League Premier Division. In a twist of fate, it was a Byron Harrison hat-trick which helped Carshalton to survive on the final day at Ashford's expense. Perhaps surprisingly, Byron started the 2010-11 season at Carshalton and scored freely, which earned him a move to newly-promoted Stevenage FC. He settled in quickly, and helped the League new boys to an immediate promotion to League One, via the play-offs. During the January 2012 transfer window, Byron became AFC Wimbledon's record signing when he moved to Kingsmeadow for an undisclosed five-figure fee. Byron spent a year with the Wombles before signing for Cheltenham Town on 31st January 2013.
A hugely popular local lad, who emerged from the club's youth system, "Bones" (so called because of his tall, yet slight, build) was an integral part of the First Team while still in his teens and played a total of 190 times for Ashford, scoring 26 goals from central midfield, the last of which was a 30 yard volley to equalise in the 2008-09 Surrey Senior Cup Final, which Ashford won. He was highly-rated both inside the club and at rival clubs and was widely considered the best midfielder in the Isthmian League during his time at Ashford. He also won plaudits for the quality of the pitch, given that he was also the groundsman at the club!
At the end of the 2008-09 season, Ricky was transferred to AFC Wimbledon after protracted negotiations between the clubs. Wimbledon had been long-term admirers of Ricky but the length of time it took the transfer to be completed caused him a few issues with his new club's support. Early in 2011, Ricky moved to Cambridge United on loan and it looked as if he might be on his way out of Kingsmeadow, but he returned to Wimbledon to reclaim his place and was in the starting XI for their promotion play-off Final win over Luton Town, after which he signed a new contract with the Wombles. However, after making 78 appearances for AFC Wimbledon, he was released in May 2012 and almost immediately signed a two-year deal with Cambridge United. However, after less than a season at the Abbey Stadium, Ricky moved on loan to Salisbury City of the Confernece South and the move was then made permanent. Ricky scored for the Whites in their promotion play-off semi-final against Dover Athletic, helping the club to reach the Conference Premier.
Playing professionally abroad:
Guiseppe "Joe" Funicello
Joe Funicello was a popular member of the club, who was born in Italy but raised in America. Although Joe was a regular in the Reserve Team during his time at Ashford, he made just one competitive First Team appearance, and that was as a substitute. Joe signed for Corinthian-Casuals before returning to America and signing for Real Maryland Monarchs.
After a short spell in Maryland, Joe moved to Icelandic club Thor Akureyri, for whom he made an immediate impact and earned himself a transfer to Finnish top-flight side IFK Mariehamm in August 2010. He helped IFK to avoid relegation and signed a one-year contract extension but fell out with his manager and moved to Vaasan Palloseura (VPS), attracting a huge amount of attention in the Finnish media for exposing issues within IFK's squad. Having completed the 2011 season with VPS, Joe returned to Thor Akureyri, playing 19 of their 24 league games. In August 2013, Joe moved back to Iceland from Finland, joining FF Jaro until the end of the 2013 season.