Divided loyalties for Harmison in Les Alderson memorial game

James Harmison.
James Harmison.
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Defender James Harmison admitted at the weekend that he was torn between which outfit he would turn out for in Sunday’s match at Woodhorn Lane in memory of Ashington’s loyal servant Les Alderson who passed away at the beginning of June.

Harmison has been named in the Ashington squad which will be captained by his brother and former England cricketer Stephen against a Bedlington Terriers XI.

Terriers are being managed by his uncle Mel Harmison and will include as many of the side as possible that went down to a late goal against Tiverton Town in the 1999 FA Vase final at Wembley.

However, for 32-year-old James, it was a tough call as he had divided loyalties having not only worn the colours of both clubs but skippering them both too.

“I didn’t know which dressing room I should go into – but wanted to play regardless,” he said.

“The game is for a good cause – in aid of motor neurone disease – and I knew Les Alderson ever since he had his sports shop in the town.

“When I was at Ashington as a 16-year-old Les was the kit man.

“He was an excellent person who knew his football inside out and everyone had respect for him and loved him.”

However, Harmison, who signed in the close season for a second spell at Bedlington, will be restricted to making a cameo appearance for the game which has a 2pm kick-off.

He said: “When I heard about this match, I jumped at the chance, but the clash will come less than 24 hours before Bedlington face Ashington in the derby, and the day after we have played Guisborough, so I will only be able to make a token appearance of five to ten minutes.

“However it will show what type of bloke Les Alderson was by the players that are turning out for him.

“It should be a fantastic day and everyone is hoping for a bumper attendance.”

Admission prices will be £3 adults, £1 concessions.

During his time with the Colliers, when he jokingly admits he had to carry the likes of Lee Anderson and Graeme McCabe, Harmison played in the Craven Cup winning side of 1999 against Evenwood at Brandon when Simon Waldock scored an extra time winner during John Connolly’s time as manager.

From joining Bedlington as a 17-year-old, Harmison gave eight to nine years service in his first spell and now having returned after being with North Shields, is ready to face Ashington in Monday’s 11am kick-off at Welfare Park.

“Derby matches are always tough and close games and this one will be no different,” he said.

Harmison scored for Ashington a couple of years ago against the Terriers, but he would willingly put another strike on the back burner so long as his side come out victorious.

He said: “I don’t score that often so I’d take a goal at any time, however, I’ll be equally as happy not to score so long as we win the game.”

Ashington squad: Neil Fairbairn, Chris Barron, Lee Anderson, David Bibby, James Harmison, Stephen Harmison, Phil Nixon, Marc Irwin, Paul Dunn, Derek Atwell, Stu Douglas, Ian Irving, Steven Robson, David Carr, Mark Campbell, Ian Herron, Kane Young, Alan Hogg, Greg Peary, Cristen Priest and Andrew Purvis.

Bedlington Terriers squad: Jonathan Egen, Sean McCafferty, Jon Sokoluk, Mel Harmison, Warren Teasdale, Andy Gowens, Mark Cameron, Tommy Ditchburn, Steven Boon, Andy Bowes, Tony Burgess, Lee Ludlow, Christian Graham, Dean Gibb, Lawrie Pearson, Micky Cross, Gary Middleton, Ritchie Bond, Robbie Cockburn, John Milner, Steven Preen, Gareth McAlindon and Stephen Locker.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.