Friday, 17 July 2015

Ashley Carew brings the fun

Hit square off the laces, the lofted pass from the southern-most point of the centre-circle over to the right wing is a thing of absolute beauty. It’s the perfect example of making the ball do the work – many a defending wide-midfield player has been completely taken out of a game by this relatively simple skill.

Lean back, aim for the sweet spot just below the centre of the ball and stand and admire the pleasing arc of your inch-perfect quarter-back delivery. Really bloody fun.

Around eight minutes into Dulwich Hamlet’s first game of their 2015-16 pre-season programme, this was exactly what Ashley Carew did. Danny Waldren’s short pass rolled invitingly in front of him and as the ball began to slow to a stop Carew leant back, aimed for just below the centre of the ball and watched his lofted pass drop onto the toe of Albert Jarrett. I caught the eye of a friend and we nodded appreciatively.

Photo: Joel Virgo Photography

Jarrett then took Peterborough United’s left-back this way and that before sending in a cross that whipped over the bar for a goal-kick. By the time the cross came in, the bypassed left-midfielder had caught up with play and doubled up on Jarrett – all advantage had been lost.

Carew might well have returned Waldren’s pass to whence it came – it would’ve been the safer option. He might’ve helped the ball on to Mitchell Nelson at right-back – it would have dragged the opposition out of position. He might have done all manner of sensible things. But he didn’t. Because that’s not fun.


Three days later, with Dulwich 5-0 down at home to Altona 93, Carew (along with several other first-team players) entered from the bench. Jacob Erskine tapped in for 5-1, Carew himself bent home a 23-yard free-kick (5.45 into these highlights) for 5-2 with four minutes remaining – Dulwich were finishing with a flourish.

As the clock ticked into the final minute Danny Waldren received a short pass from Carew (6.13 into highlights). Waldren (in what already seems a trademark move) allowed the ball across his body before chopping back with the outside of his right foot and rolling a pass back to Matt Drage. Drage in turn rolled the ball back to Carew, six yards back from that sweet spot at the back of the centre circle.

Carew pushed the ball out of his feet and towards the sweet spot before planting his left foot next to the ball and drilling a 40-yard pass over the head of the Altona left-back and onto the right-foot of an onrushing Jarrett who finished high into the roof of the net.

Carew could have returned the ball to Drage – it was the final minute, best to just run the clock down. He could have swept a ball out to the right-back – it was the final minute, best to just run the clock down. But he didn’t – because that’s not fun.

Photo: Joel Virgo Photography

Throughout his time with Dulwich, Carew has done things for fun. He’s rolled the ball under his foot, for fun. He’s thrown a second, a third step-over, for fun. He’s threaded a through-ball and looked the other way, for fun. His critics (and there are a number) claim that this is his downfall, that you can’t and shouldn’t have a player like him at this level, that his style of play is detrimental to the team.

There may well be some truth in all of those views but, frankly, who cares? Watching Ashley Carew do things for fun is really bloody fun.

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