‘Keeper Cam focused on pushing Curzon Ashton forward

IT IS fair to say Curzon Ashton goalkeeper Cameron Mason has become part of the furniture with more than 200 appearances to his name over a 10-year period.

But do not think he is resting on his laurels, he has his eyes set on further glory, nd possible promotion.

The 28-year-old re-joined the club last summer following an injury tainted spell at Southport – a move he reluctantly made after falling out of favour during a transitional period at the Tameside Stadium under former boss Steve Cunningham.

His time there left a lot to be desired and, by his own admission, left him pondering a future in the game with retirement crossing his mind.

But any lingering doubts about his future were shelved when Curzon came knocking and offered him a contract.

He says the offer to return was a ‘complete no brainer’ and felt the time was right to come back home.

Cameron Mason

Little did he know, however, his return to Tameside could potentially yield a historic season for the club – formed little over 61 years ago – as Curzon are handily placed in the National League North and right on track for a play-off spot.

If the club achieves its objective and, dare they whisper it, secures a historic promotion into the National League, one man will be written into Curzon folklore – step up, Craig Mahon.

According to Cam, the Curzon boss has cultivated a team spirit like nothing he has previously experienced and not only hopes, but fully expects to silence the doubters come the end of the season.

Speaking to The Correspondent, he said: “When I came back to the club I was amazed at how tight the dressing room was under the previous manager, Adam Lakeland.

“I could tell straight away that the lads in the squad would run through brick walls for Adam.

“That’s only got better over the months, it’s a very open dressing room and Craig asks the players for their perspectives games.

“He’s created a really close group who trust each other and have the same hunger to win.

“We’re going into every game to win – there’s no approach to counter teams. We obviously look at a team’s strength, but we emphasise their weaknesses and how to exploit them to win a game.

“Craig sacrificed himself in the FA Cup game against Barnet. I think that’s a mark of his character as a man and a player. He wants what’s best for the club and won’t put himself before others.

“The priority is the same for Craig and the players – nothing has changed since he’s taken the job.”

Craig Mahon

Such has been Craig’s impact in the dugout, he was recently awarded a contract extension, along with first team coaches Mark Bradshaw and Jack Salkeld, until 2025.

The trio have, according to Cam, created a ‘no fear’ mentality and developed a great brand of football.

He added: “We don’t fear anyone as we just worry about ourselves. From the top to bottom, everyone is in this together and that’s always been the way at the club.

“The difference now, from my perspective, is having the football to back it up. We’re in the highest position we’ve ever been in. Certainly, during my time with the club, we had never been anywhere near the play-offs before Christmas.

“We’ve been through a lot of managers in recent years, but now we have stability and that’s what’s needed to move forward and succeed.”

Having enjoyed a decade-long affinity with the club, Cam has experienced a number of changes both on and off the pitch with managerial adjustments, additions to the board and player departures to name a few.

But the one aspect of the club which hasn’t changed is the diehard group of fans, who have been unwavering in their support from the day he arrived.

Small in number but big in heart, the supporters’ loyalty has been rewarded with steady success over the previous ten years.

After all, Curzon were competing in the eighth tier as recently as 2014 – a season which saw the club win the league title with a last-minute goal at Harrogate Railway Athletic.

And if things go to plan this year, the Nash could potentially be playing Oldham Athletic in a league outing next season.

It is a fixture the diehards could never have envisaged – but one that could materialise nonetheless.

And it is an exciting prospect for Cam as he said: “We’ve shown recently that we can attract a decent number of fans to follow us on a matchday.

“We had a fantastic away following at Scunthorpe recently and it was something I’d never experienced during my time with the club.

“It’s always going to be difficult to increase the numbers of supporters given the amount of other clubs in Tameside and Oldham – not to mention Manchester United and Manchester City.

“But the potential is there and hopefully, if we do something special this season, the numbers will continue to grow and give the club the support it deserves.

“The support we currently get at home hasn’t been through the lack of trying. Oliver Newall has worked really hard to bring in new supporters with different initiatives. Hopefully one day it will pay off – especially if we managed to get promoted and play some big teams.

“When we were promoted seven years ago, a lot of people had their doubts and expected us to go straight down.

“Critics have always said we’re punching above our weight – and maybe we are a little bit this season – but we’re approaching things in our own way. It seems to be working and goes to show how far the club has come.

“If we were to play Oldham, it would certainly be a strange feeling as we’ve played them over recent years in pre-season friendlies.

“They’re a massive club and supported really well, but they’ve had a difficult few years which goes to show that anything can happen.

“It would be an amazing achievement if Curzon could mix it with clubs like Oldham next season – but there’s a long way to go, and as the players are aware, we have to keep doing what we’ve done all season.”

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