From Ashes to Ashington: Harmison's FA Cup dream

Wednesday 12 Aug 2015
Ashington boss Steve Harmison

Steve Harmison is a two-time Ashes winner but his opposite number on Saturday is determined to ensure the Ashington boss endures a losing start to his Emirates FA Cup career.

Harmison, who claimed 226 Test wickets during his cricket career, switched sports and took the reins at Ashington last season in his first managerial venture.

After an impressive Northern League Division One run-in Harmison is embarking on his first full season in charge and, this weekend, his first FA Cup tie.

Ashington v Albion Sports

The Emirates FA Cup
Extra Preliminary Round
Woodhorn Lane
3pm, Saturday 15 August
Winners receive £1,500

The visitors for Saturday’s extra preliminary round clash are fellow step-five outfit Albion Sports, managed by club legend Kulwinder Sandhu.

The Bradford-based outfit are embarking on just their third FA Cup campaign and Indian-born Sandhu, who played for Albion before taking over as manager way back in 1985, is raring to go.

“I will take my India cricket jumper,” laughed Sandhu. “It’s a privilege to meet someone like Mr Harmison and I’m sure our supporters will enjoy it. I just hope we can put one over on him in the football.”

Albion first entered The FA Cup in 2013 and they hit the ground running, reaching the first qualifying round and coming within touching distance of a lucrative tie.

That is the aim this time around but Sandhu, whose side were playing Sunday football until five years ago, is not underestimating the challenge ahead.

“Two years ago in the first round we beat North Shields, in the second we beat South Shields after a replay and then lost to Marske United,” he recalled.

“If we had beaten Marske we would have played Southport in the next round. The National League sides come into the draw and that would be great if we could win two or three rounds.

“It all helps for a club at our level.”

Albion Sports boss Kulwinder Sandhu

Albion Sports boss Kulwinder Sandhu

For Sandhu this tie is not just about getting one over on Harmison. Revenge is on the agenda after these two sides met in the extra preliminary round of last year’s competition and super-sub Marc Walton dumped Albion out.

“We went 1-0 up and we should have won the game convincingly,” added Sandhu. “They made a substitution with 20 minutes to go and he scored two worldies. You won’t see two better goals anywhere.”

Ashington may have got the better of Albion last year but they have their own amends to make after kicking off the league season with back-to-back 3-1 defeats.

And the manager will be without Gareth Williams, who is sidelined with an injury he picked up at Washington last weekend.

“It’s disappointing news because Gareth gives experience and that is something which we need when the chips are down,” said Harmison.

“There are a few heads which have gone down and a few players are not doing things that they probably should be doing – and that has got to change.

“When the management first came into the job we had a couple of wins and a couple of defeats but we turned it around.

“Again we are in a position where we have to turn things around, and The FA Cup tie on Saturday is a massive game for us.”

By FA Staff