The Ashlee Hincks Interview

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ASHLEE HINCKS has had a phenomenal impact with the AFC Wimbledon Women’s team, registering over a century of goals in just three seasons! It’s a compelling story of success and heartbreak as Ashlee explains in this WDSA interview.

(i) For those who have come in late to the Ashlee Hincks story, can you give a run down of where you began your junior football, the clubs you have played for, talk about representing England at all youth levels and the high points of your club career?

Ashlee Hincks: I started my career at Charlton Athletic where I made my first team debut at 17, I won a League Cup final and played in an FA Cup final with them. I moved on and played a few seasons with Watford. After I had a spell at Chelsea and played in the first-ever WSL game. I again reached another FA cup final (unfortunately another loss, this time on penalties to Birmingham City). I had a season out on Iceland which was an amazing experience, when I returned I played for Millwall for 3.5 seasons in the Championship and captained them to a 19-game unbeaten run (which for the Championship is very very rare!). After Millwall I switched to Crystal Palace for three seasons then on to AFC Wimbledon. I also represented England at all youth levels.

(ii) In the summer of 2021 you joined AFC Wimbledon from Crystal Palace. What were the factors that influenced your decision to join the Dons?

Ashlee: I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to drop a league (or in this case two) to try and help a team progress through the leagues. Wimbledon offered me a great opportunity to do that with big real foundations. The chance to play at the brand new Plough Lane was also a huge draw…

(iii) You have made a phenomenal impact as the figurehead of the women’s team, racking up an extraordinary number of goals (along with 28 player of the match awards!). You have a happy knack of getting in behind backlines for 1 v 1s and regularly turn up in the right place to get on the end of crosses. Were those attributes always in your game (instinctive) or have you learned through specific coaching /training?

Ashlee: I think this comes along with my many years of experience playing at the highest levels — this provides me with a level of instinct of being in the right place at the right time. Having played the game for as many years as I have I feel like I am able to put myself in positions to receive the ball and score all types of goals that I do. 

(iv) Another aspect of your game is that you take free kicks and corners – unusual for a number 9 – and have probably provided two dozen assists off the back of them. Were you always the designated taker at your previous clubs and would you secretly rather be in the box getting on the end of someone else’s corners?

Ashlee: One of my biggest attributes has always been my dead ball deliveries and I have always been a taker of them ever since I was little. I enjoy assisting and setting up as many goals as I score — I think I’m more of an assist delivering than waiting for them in the box. 

(v) Why do you think you score so many “worldie contenders”? Do you have a particular favourite goal for the Dons (and is it on You Tube for us to link to}?

Ashlee: I always get asked this question, and I agree, I have scored some pretty nice goals since being at AFC Wimbledon, however, again I think it comes down to my ability when striking the ball, and an instinct of when to catch out the opposition keepers. I don’t have a favourite goal I can think of, however, my 100 goals have been put on YouTube by the club.

(vi) What have you had to change in your game over time to continue to succeed? As a senior player what elements of your approach to the game would you ideally like to see rubbing off on the younger players in the group so that they can push on and fulfill their potential?

Ashlee: Naturally, I don’t recover as quickly as I used to and seem to pick up more niggles and random injuries I have never had to deal with but my approach to each game remains the same. In terms of it rubbing off on others, I think consistency is the main thing, in order to be successful in anything you need to be able to perform consistently in each game and my advice would be working on that and ways to ensure you are able to maintain it.

(vii) It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for you on the football pitch. You have had some serious injuries. Can you detail the setbacks that you needed to overcome to get back on the pitch?

Ashlee: In 2019 while playing for Crystal Palace I unfortunately went through the injury no footballer wants to ever go through. I ruptured my ACL, along with a grade three strain MCL and completely tore my meniscus. This meant a lengthy period on the sidelines. I had surgery in February 2020 I made my comeback almost a year later in January 2021. Having done this injury after turning 30 I think I was written off in a lot of ways and no one expected me to come back as strongly as I did. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and to this day I am very proud of myself for overcoming it and coming back as quickly and as strongly as I did. I was also unfortunate to tear my Achilles last season which sidelined me for eight weeks. It’s something I am still having to continually manage this season. 

(viii) You recently became the 11th Dons player to reach a century of goals and hold the impressive stat of scoring 110 goals in 80 appearances with 54 assists! How did it make you feel when the club made a special presentation to you on the pitch at a recent mens first team game marking that fantastic achievement?.

Ashlee: It was an incredible day for me and my family, and amazing to be acknowledged by the club in the way I have been — it’s an incredible achievement and again something of which I am very proud. 

(ix) You juggle playing with a full-time job outside of football. You have said you would never go full-time as a player. Can you explain your thoughts behind that throughout your playing career?

Ashlee:  The only time I have been full-time was for the time I spent in Iceland. Other than that, yes, I have always worked full-time around my football. It’s great to see the womens game where it now gives women/girls the option to go full-time. Unfortunately, when I was growing up the financial aspect of the game was not there, which meant you needed to work alongside with playing football. As my professional career (a Senior Account Manager within a payroll solution company)  took off the reality was I was better off financially to work full-time and play semi-professional.

(x)  You’re now 35. What does the football future hold for you and have you any ambitions of coaching or going into management after retiring from playing?

Ashlee: I don’t yet know my future path. I know I want to remain a part of women’s football but as yet unsure at what capacity that will take. [and after re-signing following the final game of the season] Signing for another year was a no brainer for me. Since signing for AFC Wimbledon back in June 2021 I have felt completely at home. I love everything about the Club and every time I step out onto the pitch in a Wimbledon shirt I feel very proud. Sealing promotion this season is exactly what the Club deserved and I’m excited to put pen to paper once more to continue our success and growth. Here’s to 2024/2025!

(xi)  Finally, this has been a tremendous season for the AFC Wimbledon women under coach Kevin Foster. How do you feel about the achievement of clinching the promotion and what it means for the team and the club?

Ashlee: It feels incredible to finally seal promotion, the aim and ambition since I signed with the Dons. It is amazing to finally get over the line and call ourselves champions! Unfortunately, I have been carrying an injury and missed four games which is frustrating. [Ashlee played in the final game against Actonians. She made a goal assist and  converted a penalty into the roof of the net for the winner!] 

 

 

 

Womens team manager Kevin Foster “Ashlee’s goal scoring record speaks for itself, but what people don’t see from the outside is a true leader within the group. Her experience of playing at the highest level will help us hugely in the new challenges of tier three.”

Sophia Axelsson, General Manager: “The experience of Ashlee and Ellie Dorey in the higher leagues will be hugely important for our continued success in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division. We’ll come up against teams such as Ipswich Town, Oxford United and Plymouth Argyle. We are so lucky to have them – bring on 2024/25!”