When Mansfield Town’s new winger Ashley Hemmings made his Wolves debut on the day his hometown team clinched the Championship title, it seemed the world was at his feet.
His top flight dream was never realised after Mick McCarthy released him, but seven years later, after tasting relegation to the Conference with Dagenham & Redbridge, he is desperate to show off his talents at Mansfield.
“I think this is one of the best career moves I’ve made,” smiled the 25-year-old.
“I am very excited to sign here. I just wanted to come to a team that’s got its winning ways. I think they can carry it on from last season and push even further this year.
“I met the gaffer a few weeks ago before I went on holiday. They were just letting me know they were interested.
“Basically they sold me the club straight away. They made me feel good.
“When I went away it was always on my mind that I just wanted to get back and sign.
“The gaffer told me he’d been watching me for the last three seasons. He said I’d been on his list and he knows what I can do.
“He wanted to bring me into the team to do what I’d been doing, but wants to make me more positive.
“It showed he’d got belief in me and I just want to prove to him that I can do everything he’s asked for.”
Stags left back Mal Benning also played his part in persuading Hemmings to join.
“I know Mal Benning and James Baxendale from Walsall and I know Lee Collins from Wolves,” said Hemmings. “We grew up together from a young age.
“I spoke to Mal and he sold me the club as well. He told me it’s a great place to be and they like to play football. He’s an honest lad, so I took his word for it.
“I’ve played against Mansfield a couple of times and, to be fair, they play attractive football. Every time I’ve come here the fans have been supporting the team throughout the whole game.
“When I’ve been here it’s always been a very nice place, so when I found out they were interested I was very happy. I definitely wanted to come here.”
Although known for his wingplay, Hemmings is a versatile player.
“I am a winger, I can play left or right, or I can play as an attacking midfielder or as a striker as well,” he said. “I like to get the ball, take players on and get loads of crosses in for the strikers.”
He believes he can use the heartbreak of relegation last year as a career spur.
“I had ups and downs last season obviously, but I think it’s made me into a stronger person being in that environment,” he said.
“I felt the negative energy of going down, but it’s made me more positive as I never want to be fighting against relegation again.
“From what I’ve been through I want to prove to everyone I can help push a team to promotion.”
Dagenham’s demise was a far cry from being on the field as a substitute as Wolves beat Barnsley in 2008/09 to clinch the Championship title
“I still remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “Mick McCarthy was the manager and he told me I was coming on.
“From then I just thought – it starts now. I’ve just got to keep on going. It was an amazing time to make my debut as well as it was the day we got promoted to the Premier League.
“I just wanted to break into the team. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. But I just kept going and stayed positive – that’s all you can do.”
Now he will be a Mansfield Town player next season and can’t wait to get started.
Hemmings said: “This is a great team to come into and I feel in the last couple of seasons I’ve got better and known the game even more. It’s a great time to come here. I think the team and staff here can push me even further now.
“Every game I go out hoping I can score or assist but I definitely want to push myself to score more goals. Hopefully next season I can get double figures – that’s what I’ll be aiming for.”