THE coach at Ashington Cricket Club who uncovered the Harmison brothers Steve and Ben is leaving to take up a new challenge.
Junior coach Stephen Williams is to take up a similar position at Bedlington Cricket Club after 22 years with the Colliers.
“I have felt for a while I needed a fresh challenge,” he said.
“Living in South Beach now, I was aware there was little coaching being done in the Blyth Valley area, so I always intended to try and put something back into the community I am now part of.
“So when Bedlington approached me, I knew it was a great opportunity to combine the two.
“With assistance from the Northumberland Cricket Board, I hope to run some coaching sessions in and around the Blyth Valley schools area and hopefully attract some juniors to play at Bedlington.”
Williams, a level three coach, said he had nothing but good memories of his time at Langwell Crescent.
He added: “I will always be grateful to Ashington Cricket Club, and Peter Hooks in particular, who backed me through my coaching levels for allowing me to basically run the junior section my way and help finance much needed equipment.
“I have left on good terms and will always be available to help – and I still hope to play second team cricket at Ashington.”
Casting an eye to the future with the Three Counties Northumberland League premier division outfit who play at Hirst Head, he added: “I have been made very welcome at Bedlington, where we have a small band of enthusiastic coaches and an active junior section – so I am in my element.
“If I can bring enjoyment, success and produce some kids to come through the ranks and play senior cricket then I’ll be well satisfied, whilst to help in the development of another first class cricketer would be nice too.”
Bedlington committee member Malcolm Humble said: “We think it is a huge coup for our club that Stephen has decided to join us whilst at the same time it is a massive loss for Ashington.
“For years he has always had a good junior section and now Stephen is going to take us to the next level.”
He continued: “We are doing a lot of work to make sure things are in place for next 50 years.
“We see a lot of clubs struggling purely and simply because youngsters nowadays have got a lot of other interests and it is becoming more difficult for clubs to stay alive.
“Stephen has a mountain of experience and will spend a lot of time with the youngsters.
“He is adding more of a rigid structure to the juniors section, setting himself a target of doubling the head count at the club and plans to get into local schools.
“His enthusiasm rubs off on others and we are delighted to get him on board.”
Ashington chairman Martin Thewlis said: “Obviously we’d like to thank Stephen for everything he has done over 22 years with the success he has brought to our junior set up and the lads who he has coached who have gone on to make first and second team cricketers.
He also helped Steve and Ben Harmison and Mark Wood into the first class game and he will be massively missed within our coaching set up at the club.
“Stephen leaves very big shoes to fill but we wish him every success and hope he can replicate at Bedlington what he has done at Ashington.”
Junior coaching at Bedlington has started at Cramlington Sporting Club on Saturdays from 1pm to 2pm.
Boys aged between seven and 17 are most welcome to attend by simply turning up or contacting Stephen on 07832 640445.