Sunderland stalwart and former Foreign Secretary team up to help historic cricket club

BIG HITTER ... South Shields MP David Miliband, left, with former Sunderland player and manager Len Ashurst.
BIG HITTER ... South Shields MP David Miliband, left, with former Sunderland player and manager Len Ashurst.
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FORMER Foreign Secretary David Miliband is showing he can still put a positive spin on things by helping revamp a historic cricket club.

The Labour big-hitter is working with Black Cats deputy chairman and former defender Len Ashurst to raise funds to upgrade facilities at Whitburn Cricket Club.

The club was founded in 1962 and includes some top names in its history, including legendary West Indian bowler Lance Gibbs.

Mr Miliband, who is Sunderland AFC non-executive vice-chairman, said: “This is a great club with 150 years of history, with some big names playing here – Lance Gibbs and Wasim Raja.

“Len and I are going to get together and have a conversation and we’re planning a fund-raising evening of sport, politics and everything else in May.”

The MP, who represents Whitburn as part of his South Shields constituency, played cricket for the London Erratics team as a student. Mr Ashurst is a former Whitburn cricketer.

He said: “I played cricket here with Lance Gibbs.

“I was here for two years while I played for Sunderland. But my manager said ‘you either pack the cricket in or you pack the football in’.

“There was a risk of getting injured, you see.”

The two Black Cats bosses want to install new seating at the club, and an electronic scoreboard.

The fund-raising event in May will coincide with Sunderland’s last home game of the season against Manchester United.

Mr Ashurst said: “We need to raise £10,000 in 18 months.”

Mr Ashurst made 458 senior appearances for Sunderland AFC between 1957 and 1971 and later went on to become manager at Roker Park.

@Pressbench