Harmison plotting a Terriers win in memorial game

Mel Harmison, who will be managing a Bedlington terriers XI against an Ashington XI in a charity game for motor neurone disease.
Mel Harmison, who will be managing a Bedlington terriers XI against an Ashington XI in a charity game for motor neurone disease.

Mel Harmison missed out on making a starting appearance at Wembley in the final of the FA Vase in 1999 when Bedlington Terriers suffered heartache as Tiverton Town clinched victory with a last minute goal.

However, the 51-year-old former defender has assembled many of the Terriers squad from that era and admits that they will be taking a forthcoming memorial match on Sunday, August 25, against an Ashington XI captained by England’s former cricketer and ace bowler Stephen Harmison, seriously.

The contest, in aid of motor neurone disease, will be a memorial game for Les Alderson, a stalwart with the Colliers whom chairman Ian Lavery recently described as being one of life’s true gentlemen and ‘Mr Ashington Football Club.’

Turning back the clock, Harmison – landlord of the Angler’s Arms in Sheepwash with his partner Lisa – said: “I broke my arm about a month prior to the Vase final in 1999 so I wasn’t really involved.

“I travelled down with the squad and trained on the pitch, but I was ruled out as I couldn’t wear the plaster for the game.”

Harmison described the emotions which left Bedlington devastated on the Wembley pitch and terraces.

“It was heartbreaking because there was only about a minute of normal time remaining on the clock when Tiverton scored,” he said.

“It was Scott Rogers, the second cousin and godson of the Tiverton manager Martyn Rogers who, after coming on as a late substitute, got the goal. We were all distraught.”

Now, 14 years on, Harmison has brought together as many of the team as he can.

“It has proved to be a difficult project,” he said.

“A lot of the lads have obviously now finished with football and some live away, but everyone I have been in touch are available to play with the exception of one.”

Harmison has plenty of reasons why he wants his side to come out on top.

He added: “Quite simply, I don’t like losing. We’ll be taking the game seriously – and I want to beat Stephen’s XI.

“Also the rivalry between Ashington and Bedlington is always competitive.

“The players – including Dean Gibb – are training hard and we are all looking forward to it.”

Harmison moved quickly to secure the services of his friend – Premiership referee Mark Clattenburg –- who will be the man in charge.

“When I heard about the game, I asked Mark if he would be available and he was more than happy to officiate,” he said.

“We are hoping the general public will support the event and come along in their droves because it is for a good cause as well as being a tribute to Les.”