Referee Michael glad to be back in black for Magpies friendly

Premier League referee Michael Oliver.
Premier League referee Michael Oliver.

Referee Michael Oliver is swapping the biggest stage of his officiating career to return to his roots tonight for the unveiling of Ashington Football Club’s new 250-seat stand.

The Premier League whistler from Wansbeck, now living Cramlington, was the man in the middle for the under-17s Football World Cup final held in Chile last weekend between Mali and Nigeria, but tonight the 30-year-old will be back home to take charge of the Colliers' friendly against a Newcastle United under-21s side at Woodhorn Lane.

His assistants will be Adam Nichol, also born in Ashington, and Bedlington-based Evan Culling.

Colliers defender James Harmison has been ruled out of the friendly match, kicking off at 7pm, after undergoing a hernia operation on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed to miss out against Newcastle, and I’m devastated that I’ll be forced to sit out the FA Vase clash against North Shields on Saturday week,” he said.

Newcastle United have named a 15-man squad, to be managed by Magpies legend Peter Beardsley, for this evening’s friendly. It will be made up of Brendan Pearson, Ben Smith, Jamie Sterry, Liam Gibson, Adam Laidler, Lubomir Satka, Callum Williams, Dan Barlaser, Liam Smith, Sean Longstaff, Jamie Holmes, Lewis Suddick, Lewis McNall, Ben Pollock and Owen Gallagher.

Club officials are expecting a bumper turnout and are advising fans to arrive early.

Colliers boss Steve Harmison said: "It’s an exhibition match really and should be a good spectacle. For supporters, it gives them the chance to see the next generation of Newcastle United footballers, who could be playing in the Premiership in a few years' time, and consequently I’ve no doub that they will see a very good, well-drilled side.

"Peter Beardsley and Newcastle United are doing Ashington a favour, and we are thankful for that.

"The new stand and facility is tip-top, and I think it is going to be a marvellous occasion for Ashington FC. It will be a great night to showcase what looks a fantastic building.”

Entry is £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.