29 Jun 2020 in First Team
By Brian Bennett
Ben Harmison made a return to his hometown club last week when he signed on the dotted line for Ashington – and the 34 year old made no secret of the fact that he was thrilled to come back with his main aim to help the Colliers push forward.
The 6ft 5ins tall striker scored 17 goals in the 2016-17 season and had found the back of the net on eight occasions during the following campaign before he joined North Shields. Further moves followed to clubs higher up the footballing pyramid - South Shields, Morpeth Town and Blyth Spartans – followed until Harmison drove into Woodhorn Lane last week to complete the deal.
Harmison said: “I’m over the moon and can’t wait to get started. I had enquiries and offers from higher league clubs but I wanted to come back to Ashington where I was happy. I enjoyed my time playing for three or four years at a higher level but I didn’t want the extra travel which is involved and fancied the challenge of helping Ashington. They have had a tough few years and I’m hoping that I can play my part as they look to push forward.”
After leaving in that 2017/18 campaign, Harmison has continued to follow the fortunes of his hometown club and one game last season - shortly after Christmas – brought it home to him that he wanted to return: “At Morpeth, I went out on loan to Whickham and when they played against Ashington, I saw this group of young lads trying their hardest for their manager Ian Skinner - and I thought maybes a few old heads – including myself – could help. And that’s what I will be looking to do - help as much as I can.”
He went on: “The chairman Brian Shotton and the executive board have stabilised the club along with Ian Skinner and his backroom staff and I was hungry to come back and help push them up the league.”
Manager Skinner said: “I have the utmost respect for Ben who has been a professional sportsman as a cricketer serving both Durham and Kent and who always conducts himself in a very professional manner. I worked with him at Ashington and Blyth AFC and his professionalism always shone through. As the current manager of Ashington FC, my job is to sign players who can take the club forward and I think with Ben putting pen to paper for us, this shows what we are trying to achieve. The lad has recently represented clubs like South Shields, Morpeth Town and Blyth Spartans which goes to show the calibre of footballer he is and when I was aware he might be available, he was someone I very much wanted to bring to the club. Having spoken to him, I was delighted that he had a desire to return to his hometown club and I very much look forward to working with Ben again. It is important that we as a team ensure that we provide him with the service which will allow him to score a number of goals in the coming season. There are many Northern League teams who would have touted for his signature but Ben had no hesitation in wanting to join us and I’m delighted.”