Memorial game for ‘Mr Ashington Football Club’

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Former players and managers will come together to take charge of an old Ashington side in memory of a former player.

A team captained by former England cricketer and Ashington player Steve Harmison will play a team led by Mel Harmison from Bedlington Terriers, an FA Vase finalist from 1999.

And manager Tony Harrison will be assisted by Jimmy Harmison and Keith Grant in the memorial game for Les Alderson, who died on June 2.

The game takes take place on Sunday, August 25, with a 2pm kick-off at Woodhorn Lane, home of Ashington CFC, and is in aid of motor neurone disease.

And Premiership referee Mark Clattenburg has confirmed that he will officiate the contest which will see former players like Lee Anderson, James Harmison, Greg Peary, Alan Hogg and Marc Irwin to name but a few wear the black and white again.

They will lock horns with the Terriers – probably one of the best Northern League side of its times – highlighted when players like John Milner, Dean Gibb, Richie Bond and Ashington manager Gary Middleton, who have all confirmed to be in the Bedlington side, went to Wembley in 1999, narrowly missing out on a FA Vase victory as they went down to a goal in the last minute against Tiverton.

Ashington CFC chairman Ian Lavery said: “The best way I can describe Les Alderson is being one of life’s true gentlemen and it would be fair to call him ‘Mr Ashington Football Club’.

“He was a figurehead at the club over many years and carried out many functions, and in doing so made many close friends, all of whom are saddened by this tragedy.

“Arrangements were well under way to stage a game and raise money for motor neurone disease, and I’m happy that Ashington will host the event.

“We will do everything to raise as much money as we can.”

Steve Harmison said: “It will be good to play football with some of the lads who I used to play alongside for a good cause and for Les, who did a lot of unseen work behind the scenes at Ashington Football Club.

“He kept the players going in the 1990s and it is testimony to him that all of the old players are coming out in force to pay tribute to him.”

Mel Harmison said: “Les was goalkeeper for the Excelsior and was my next door neighbour for two to three years.

“He was a lovely gentleman who was always nice to me and I thought a lot of him.

“We exchanged good banter and it is a fitting tribute that this game is going to staged as a memorial with the majority of Bedlington’s Wembley team available to play.”

Gary Middleton said: “Les was obviously a person who loved the football club and even though he had this illness, still did an awful lot for the club – but that was the mannerism of the guy.

“I remember the days at Portland Park when he cut and marked the pitch – he was a tireless worker and people like that are sadly missed.”

Tony Harrison said: “This game is a fantastic tribute to Les. He was a tremendous help to me during my time as manager of Ashington Football Club and his death came as a great shock to me.”

Les Alderson junior, speaking on behalf of the family said: “We are very proud that Steve Harmison and others have gone out of their way to organise this event.

“My dad would have loved the occasion. He knew a match was being organised for motor neurone and was chuffed – and the last game he saw was Ashington winning the Northumberland Senior Cup final last month against Whitley Bay at St James’ Park, which cheered him up for weeks.”