Harmison believes future is bright for Ashington

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.
Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.

Just like the old proverb, Steve Harmison’s baptism in football management with his home town club Ashington is akin to a duck to water.

The former pace bowler, a two times Ashes winner with England, took over at Woodhorn Lane in early February and saw his side rack up 11 wins from 15 games, including nine clean sheets.

Against a backdrop of the threat of relegation, Harmison inspired his outfit to such an extent that the trapdoor was quickly dispelled.

Now, reflecting on the ten-week run in to the end of the campaign, whilst declaring being happy with the way things panned out, he was nevertheless adamant that the curtain came down at the right time.

He said: “I thought the players were ready for the season to finish because there were some tired bodies.

“What they have done is to acquire a little taste of what is to come here.

“They have got a break and what they might see is three or four new faces – hopefully big hitting faces – added to the squad who will make a difference and help them get to the next level.

“When they do that I’m sure Ashington will have a brighter future.”

He continued: “I’m hoping they will think they have got to maintain standards because in the 15 games, the level of performance was high and very good, and that is the bar they have set.”

The boss added: “We have given the players some confidence and they are the ones who have shone through.

“I was happy with the way everything went and it was better than what I thought because Ashington were in a position where they hadn’t won for seven games; they were in a bit of a rut, and that had nothing to do with the previous management team - that’s the way the club was and you get that.

“But I’ve played in many teams where that was the case, and a change of face, a change of voice can make the difference.

“I do think I inherited a good squad of players, the nucleus of which had been successful for a number of years, and it was just a case of putting components in place.”

Harmison pointed to the signing of his brother James as well as Dylan Williamson as being instrumental.

“The pair of them were mainstays,” he said.

“James gave us experience from a defensive point of view along with Dylan’s pace which frightened the opposition.

“But the Colliers reserve side arguably helped to keep us up and I was grateful for the support I got from the management team of David Brown, David Leightley and Steve Jones.”

Harmison also gave accolades to his own backroom staff.

“People will say I came into the job with no managerial experience, but sometimes I think that’s not a bad thing because you go in with your eyes wide open,” he said.

“In any case, it’s not that I’ve had no managerial experience – I was a senior player for ten to 12 years in international and domestic dressing rooms and played professionally for 18.

“When you are a senior player that is a sort of management role, especially in a cricket team.

“There wasn’t anything I was wary or frightened or not sure of.

“I’ve been around the Northern League since I was old enough to walk, but I had an idea what I wanted to do, and I look at my lieutenants and deputies (Ian Skinner, Lee Anderson, Alan Brown and Leanne Symonds) and they have been fantastic.

“We needed to give the players a bit of belief in their own ability and to express themselves.

“You can have the best managers with the best ideas in the world, but if the players don’t buy in or are not comfortable in what you are doing, then they will not be successful.

“We have put smiles on to faces and let them go and play, and I think they have enjoyed what we have tried to do.

“If that’s the benchmark or the concrete base which we have set, then I think the future is bright.”

Ashington FC hold their annual presentation night in the clubhouse on Saturday (May 16).