Ashington FC boss Steve Harmison showered praise on a Newcastle United outfit managed by legend Peter Beardsley after they put eight goals past the Colliers in a game to mark the opening of the AkzoNobel stand at Woodhorn Lane last night.
Harmison said: “It wasn’t about the game – it was for the people of Ashington to come and see up-and-coming stars, and I thought Newcastle United were a credit to their club.
“The weather in the first half was horrendous, as bad as I have ever seen it here ,and I thank Newcastle United, Peter Beardsley and the young kids who have come and shown professionalism.
“That is something which I am trying to instil into my players, who didn’t show it in a second half in which I thought we were poor.
“However, irrespective of how badly we played, the night was about the community spreading the word that a Premiership club has come to a non-league club to celebrate what is a fantastic facility.
“We played against a team who were up against Blyth Spartans in the Northumberland Senior Cup last weekend and lost 2-0, but they came to our place with a spring in their step.
“I thought we worked hard in the first half in appalling conditions, but I thought we were nearly as bad as the elements in the second half, and that has to be addressed for the weekend when we play Jarrow Roofing at home.
“What I have said to the players is that we have started to build up a decent squad, and we are getting players fit.
“The lads need to take their chance, and I want to see my players play on nights like this because if we stay in the FA Vase and Senior Cup and play big games, we are going to have big crowds.
“We have got to learn to play in front of bumper gates, and that starts against North Shields on Saturday week in the FA Vase. Otherwise, we are going to get nowhere.”
The former England cricketer was delighted by the turnout of 1,229.
“On a night like this, to the people of Ashington and fans from outside the area, I would like to thank every single one of them for coming because that’s what it was about – seeing good young players,” he said.
The boss also paid tribute to Beardsley and his late brother Ronnie.
“He’s up there with Alan Shearer. He’s one of Newcastle’s best ever players,” said the 37-year-old.
“Peter has been standing on the sideline in the driving rain on a Thursday night spreading the word of the community of Newcastle.
“Peter is a great ambassador for the club, and I have loads of time for him.
“Peter’s brother Ronnie was a fantastic friend of mine who sadly died last year, and I was so pleased to see Peter before the game.
“We had a chat about Ronnie, and I’ll be having a drink upstairs for him because of the favour which Peter has done for me tonight.”
Beardsley added: “Obviously, it was nice for us to be invited by Steve Harmison to open the new stand.
“I thought it was a good game played in a good spirit and which saw some good football by both teams, and I thought the Ashington lad scored a great goal.
“The game was a pleasure to watch considering the conditions, but to be fair, it’s what we do . You just have to adjust to them and try to be the best you can.”
The 54-year-old was also full of praise for his opposite number, saying: “Harmy is a top man. I have known him for a long time now and have the utmost respect for him.
“I love what he does and what he has done for the place of Ashington, the people, the club and everybody.
“Harmy and I go a long way back. He was a good friend of my brother Ronnie, who sadly passed away last year, and I have nothing but admiration for him.”