Harmison humbled by support for benefit game

Steve Harmison.
Steve Harmison.

He has played in front of thousands of spectators during a distinguished cricketing career, but the occasion got to Stephen Harmison following a testimonial football match held between a Northumberland XI and a Newcastle United XI at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane ground.

Harmison, who only recently announced his retirement from professional cricket, said after the contest that he will be eternally grateful for the support which he received.

And the two times Ashes winner could not shower enough praise on Newcastle United and spoke of how Magpies assistant manager John Carver had said that Sir Bobby Robson would have been proud.

Harmison said: “I was so humbled by the support – and for Newcastle United to bring their squad.

“The following day, I realised how proud I was to support Newcastle United because of the way John Carver, the players and coaching staff on Newcastle United FC conducted themselves, which was a credit to their football club.

“Not one negative word was said and that for me is a credit to the people who came.

“It must have been tough for the young lads, who have probably never seen me play cricket, to play and conduct themselves in the way they did, and I was humbled by the way it went.

“It was a horrible night yet I will be eternally grateful for the support from the Ashington people – to have around 1,000 people who braved the elements was unbelievable.

“I wanted to put on a good night, bring a big stage to Ashington at prices the same as for normal games at Woodhorn Lane.

“Peter Beardsley, who played many times for Newcastle United and England, turned out and also on show I’m sure were England internationals of the future.

“To be fair, the Northumberland lads didn’t disgrace themselves either – they were fantastic.

“John Carver came into the dressing room at the end of the game and said he was under pressure with the side he had brought to make sure that no one got injured and said it was a credit to each and every one of us and that Sir Bobby Robson would have been proud because he had high feelings for myself as a person and a cricketer.

“You cannot ask for anything more than that – Newcastle United were brilliant and it was topped off with John coming into the dressing room and wishing the lads all the best in their own futures.

“He then came into the big room and spoke very warmly about myself, my family and Sir Bobby Robson.

“The following day, on reflection, I was amazed as to how well the event had gone considering the weather, but it shows you don’t necessarily need the weather to have a good time.”

The proceeds from the game – plus a little bit more – are to go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation whilst the money raised from the cricket match at South Northumberland will be given to the PCA Benevolent fund.