Steve Harmison revelling in career switch
A cold Saturday in Ashington on England`s north east coast is a far cry from some sun-baked cricket pitch in the Tropics but for Steve Harmison there is no other place he would rather be as he upholds a family tradition.
London: A cold Saturday in Ashington on England`s north east coast is a far cry from some sun-baked cricket pitch in the Tropics but for Steve Harmison there is no other place he would rather be as he upholds a family tradition.
In his prime Harmison was one of cricket`s elite fast bowlers, taking 226 test wickets for England and starring in a side that included Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, Michael Vaughan and James Anderson.
Now, with his cricketing whites retired for good, he is forging a career as a football manager in the former mining heartland of northern England.
The Newcastle United fan has returned to run hometown club Ashington FC of the Northern League Division One, the ninth tier of English football, where he stewards a team of teachers, bricklayers, students, sports coaches and factory workers.
With England cricketers toiling at the World Cup, Harmison is embroiled in a relegation struggle, although since he took over last month, the 36-year-old has overseen a change in fortunes with three victories and two defeats.
His side are also in the semi-final of the Northern League Cup.
His aching back, a legacy of the punishing strain of bowling balls at nearly 100mph, still causes him pain, but the camaraderie of a team environment makes up for it.
"I`ve always been asked if I miss playing (cricket). No, not one bit," Harmison, who retired from cricket in 2013, told the Sunday Times. "But I miss the dressing room like you`ve never seen.
"Ashington is not a very big place so if you come from Ashington you support the cricket team and you support the football team. The northeast is like that."
Ashington holds a special place in Harmison`s heart.
He was born in the town and his father was a stalwart for the club as a player and later an assistant manager.
"Managing anyone else would not have been interest to me," Harmison added. "It tells you what Ashington means to all of us.
"To the family it means a hell of a lot. It tells you a lot that in 1966 he`s there as a boy in the background and in 2015 I`m managing the place.
"Did anyone from my family say, `Are you sure?`. Yes, James (Harmison`s brother and first signing as manager). He knew what was coming. My wife was fine, the kids are loving it. It all fell into place.
"It gave me a purpose to get out of bed."