Witch Doctor Ash

Ash won’t shrink from any player’s challenge

ASHLEY LAWRENCE would have been burned at the stake or at the very least sat on a ducking chair and plunged into icy water a few hundred years ago.

Anyone who reckoned he (or indeed she) could heal with the power of positive thinking would have been declared a witch and suffered the consequences.

We’re a bit more broad minded now, of course. No way is he considered some sort of charlatan; a quack who plays on the minds of those who are easily susceptible.

He is a bona fide, fully paid up member of the sports psychologist clan and it was as such that we had a chat last week.

The whole thing was set up by Javed Mughal, Medway’s best-known physio who has his own practice in Rainham and who now oversees all the remedial work done at Priestfield.

Jav suggested I might like to meet Ashley; see what he’s all about and see what he’s done.

Ideal candidate for the interview, me. Sceptic to the last. One who scoffs at all that mumbo jumbo nonsense and probably thinks Ashley should be burned as a witch.

Then they told me he started work with the Gills players after the FA Cup demise at the hands of non-league Dover.

And then I started wondering if there might just be something in it after all.

Since that defeat Gills have lost only twice. They have ended an utterly dismal sequence of away matches without a win – stretching back to before the Wembley victory in 2009. They have climbed from the relegation zone to a position just outside the play-off positions. Many people reckon they could yet make it to automatic promotion.

Coincidence? Maybe.

You have to remember that manager Andy Hessenthaler brought in two very good players from Peterborough for a month. Their arrival did the team a world of good, but they’ve been gone since December and yet the team are still playing well and had it not been for a couple of outstanding goalkeepers would probably now be around fourth in League 2.

“Football is using a lot more sports psychologists for the treatment and well-being of players,” said Jav. “Particularly when they have long-term injuries. If they have negativity in them it detracts from their recovery and treatment. We have engaged Ashley to work the team as a whole and with those players who wish to work on an individual basis.

“Looking at what’s been happening on the pitch, it seems to be working.”

Ashley took over the conversation at that point.

Read the complete article here.