Stephen Harmison described how as his own cricketing career was blossoming with Durham he was privileged to be involved with the Bedlington footballing squad of 1999 who were beaten finalists in the FA Vase.
The Terriers suffered the heartache of losing to a solitary goal in the closing stages against Devon-based Tiverton Town at Wembley.
However, Harmison, who made his test debut for England in 2002, said there was a special formula about the non league minnows from Welfare Park under the management team of Keith Perry and Tony Lowery.
“I trained with the Terriers during their fantastic run,” he said.
“And not only was it arguably the best Bedlington squad which has ever played together but the togetherness of the group represented the best team environment I’ve been involved with.”
The former right arm quickie - preparing his Ashington team for Sunday’s contest against the vast majority of the 1999 Bedlington squad for the Les Alderson Memorial Cup at Woodhorn Lane – added: “The hardest thing is to get a dressing spirit and for the lads to stick together.
“In the winter months of the 1998-99 season, I trained with Bedlington and I’ve got to say it was great.”
Harmison, who with the help of his father Jimmy and Lee Anderson, have again assembled a pool of players who had no hesitation in declaring their availability for Sunday’s 2pm kick-off.
He added: “The success last year was just brilliant, it showed what Les meant not just to the people of Ashington but also the wider community as they supported the event.
“From my point of view, it was marvellous to be involved, and whilst the game will be a bit of fun, the focal point will be how much we can raise for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
“It is a fantastic cause for a great charity and there are people who are giving time and support as they remember Les Alderson.
“The overwhelming success last year spoke volumes about Les for what he contributed to Ashington – and this time we would like to do even better.
“We all hope for a good day which will set up a good weekend between Ashington and Bedlington with the Ebac Northern League game on Bank Holiday Monday (August 25), but as for the memorial game, the cause will far outweigh the events on the field.”