Ashton United was formed in 1878 and is one of the oldest clubs in the Manchester area.
The club was formerly known as Hurst F.C. - which was a separate district from Ashton-under-Lyne, and it wasn't until 1947 that the club changed to its present title.
In April 1885, Hurst became the first winners of the Manchester Senior Cup with a 3-0 win over the forerunners of Manchester United, Newton Heath.
Hurst made their first league appearance in 1909 when the club moved to Hurst Cross and competed in the Manchester League, where they won the championship in 1912, the same year that they retained the Manchester Junior Cup. The club joined the Lancashire Combination the following season, but by 1923 had moved to become Cheshire County League members.
Hurst struggled to make an impression in the new league and, in a bid to pep up their fortunes, signed the legendary Dixie Dean, but the Everton forward only played a handful of games before the outbreak of the Second World War and the suspension of football.
In 1947 they joined the Lancashire Combination, and while league success was hard to find, Ashton enjoyed some notable cup runs during the fifties when they twice lifted the Manchester Challenge Shield and also won the Manchester Intermediate Cup. Ashton also reached the first round proper of the F.A. Cup on two occasions, losing a replay to Halifax Town in 1952 watched by a Hurst Cross record crowd of 7,474 and a couple of years later losing 6-0 to Southport.
The long awaited second league championship came in 1961 when Ashton lifted the Lancashire Combination Second Division title, a season which saw the club win every home league game.
Another league change came in 1964 with a switch to the Midland League, but the club only stayed there until 1966, when they switched back to the Lancashire Combination. In 1968 they joined the Cheshire County League until the formation of the North West Counties League in 1982. Ashton suffered relegation to the Second Division of the North West Counties League in 1984, returning to the top flight as champions in 1988, but they found it hard as the majority of the side left for a higher grade of football.
By 1990, Ashton were struggling, the side were in the lower reaches of the table and the main stand had been condemned by Tameside Council as a potential death trap, but Oldham businessman Terry Liversidge saw the potential of the ground and became managing director. Ashton United also became a limited company and within twelve months the club was transformed, both on and off the pitch.
After finishing third in 1991, the Robins fought a season long battle with Great Harwood Town for the championship and required 13 points from the remaining 7 games to win the title and promotion. The title race went to the final game of the season with Ashton needing a point at Bacup to win the championship. They made no mistake with a 1-0 win. The Robins also collected the Manchester Premier Cup, the League Cup and Challenge Shield to crown the most glorious season in their history.
After a ten year battle to gain promotion from division one to the premier division of the Northern Premier League, including 6 third place finishes, the day finally came on 2nd May 2002 when Ashton beat Bamber Bridge in the play-off final at Irongate to take their place in the top flight. This was a long journey that culminated in that man from Yorkshire, Mr Gerry Quinn, moulding a team over a year and a half and making one or two influential signings in the 2001/02 season to propel Ashton into the premier division and twice win the Manchester Premier Cup.
Season 2003/04 saw Ashton maintain good progress and they sat in the top half of the league for the majority of the season. This was the year that the non-league pyramid was being re-organised and to gain movement into the Conference North the team only had to finish in the top thirteen, a position that it held until the last day of the season. The team played Harrogate Town on that day and had to win to gain the much sought after 13th spot. Unfortunately, although the team gave everything on the day, they went down 3 – 4 to push the club into a play-off position. The club went on to beat Hyde United (winners of the 1st division) but ran out of steam in the semi-final to a revitalised Bradford PA.
During the close season football, being a sport of many surprises, provided the club with another opportunity to gain entry into the Conference North – unfortunately it was the demise of another club, Telford, who went into liquidation, that gave Ashton a reprieve and found the team taking its place in the newly formed Conference North Division.
Their elevation to the Conference North appeared a season too early for the club, with Ashton, not having had enough time to strengthen the team in the close season, relegated for the first time in 21 years.
Season 2005-06 saw the team finish fifteenth in the Northern Premier League, Premier Division. Scott Green was appointed manager in December, 2005 and he was awarded a two-year contract at the end of the season, having successfully kept the team in the premier division. However, in March, 2007 Green sensationally walked out on the club on the day of a Chairman’s Cup semi-final, which he did not attend. Captain Chris Royle took temporary charge of the side until Danny Johnson was appointed as the new manager in April. A fine run of three wins and a draw from the final four games of the season ensured their position in the premier division.
Johnson spent the close season re-building the squad, a process which continued throughout the 2007-08 campaign. The team finished in tenth position in the final table after drawing fifteen of its forty league matches. The majority of the squad was retained for 2008-09 and the club continued to progress. Despite some bad luck with injuries, it was only in the final month of the season that the chance of a place in the play-off positions faded away. A final position of ninth didn’t really reflect the improvement achieved, as the team accrued ten more points than in the previous campaign.
In 2009-10 performances on the field were overshadowed to some extent by happenings off it, as the club was ordered to pay compensation to former Altrincham player, Marcus Hallows, for injuries sustained in a match played in 2005. The decision came as a major shock, as the referee had not deemed the challenge to be a foul and had taken no action. The judge’s decision put the club’s future in doubt and a resolution is still being sought. On the field, another mid-table finish was, under the prevailing circumstances, a good effort from the squad.
The progress made under Danny Johnson continued in season 2010-11, as the club won the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup, defeating Northwich Victoria in the final. The team also finished comfortably in mid-table once more, a position they will be hoping to improve on in the coming months.