By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC skipper Ben Harmison said at the weekend that if the Colliers were to win the Ebac Northern League Division One Cup it would be just rewards for the effort put in by the squad over the season.
Harmison will lead his hometown club out against Newcastle Benfield on Bank Holiday Monday (May 2) at North Shields’ Daren Persson Stadium – with the game having an 11am kick-off.
The two sides are logged at two wins each from four clashes during the season – the Colliers claiming two victories in the League whilst the Lions delivered knockout blows in the Emirates FA Cup and Buildbase FA Vase – and Harmison is under no illusions that their fifth meeting will be anything other than a tough clash: “We’ll be approaching the final just like any other game to be fair,” said the 36 year old, “We’ve played well against Newcastle Benfield a few times this year but it didn’t really matter who our opponents were going to be because whoever you play in a final you know it’s going to be a hard match. We’ll be training twice this week and prepare as normal. We’ll go into the match really confident – we’ve won a couple of games against them and they have got the better of us on a couple of occasions but it’s always a good game when we play them and the lads are all looking forward to it.”
The venue for the match brings back happy memories for Harmison – who is one of a handful of ex North Shields players in the Ashington squad: “I loved my time at North Shields,” he added, “Obviously we will not be playing in front of the home crowd – but I’m sure the Colliers fans will come out in their droves to support us and do what they have all season by giving us a lot of backing. If they do that, then it’ll probably feel like a home game especially on a bank holiday and hopefully we can give them something to be happy about.”
Harmison said it will be a ‘massive’ day for the Woodhorn Lane outfit: “It doesn’t matter what cup it is, to get to the final and have the chance of getting some silverware would be massive for the club and the players who have worked so hard this year,” he commented, “We’ve played some good football and even though we let ourselves down over the last few weeks of the season we picked up again and to be honest I think we deserve something for the way we have played. When you get to this stage of the season and people say the final is nothing, they don’t see the work which goes on pre season as well as the training sessions and long trips away midweek in the middle of winter. You are doing all of that to get to cup finals.”
The versatile Harmison – who can operate either at the heart of the defence or as a striker up front – will not find out until just before kick off what role he will be handed: “I’d go in goal if I was asked to,” he added, “I love playing for Ashington and if we can win on Monday, it would be a great way to end the season.”