Read Steve Harmison's extraordinary statement after he quits as Ashington manager
Steve Harmison has launched a lengthy statement after quitting as Ashington manager - accusing the club of standing still.
The former England cricketer took over as manager of this hometown club more than two years ago, but has stepped down after saying he was concerned with the way the club was heading.
The Colliers are 12th in the Northern League Division One table, and Harmison had brought in former Gateshead and Blyth Spartans boss Tom Wade to assist him this season.
There was no mention of Wade in an extraordinary statement which also saw chairman Ian Lavery, the Wansbeck MP, also comment on the situation.
Harmison said: “Two and a half years ago, I accepted the opportunity to be manager of a club in a town that I love.
"It’s been a massive challenge and I have had some great people play for me; I’ve had some good people work with me and I’ve worked for some excellent people.
"The chairman [Ian Lavery] is somebody who I think the world of and what he does in this area. I’ve got a reputation in the sporting world; As MP for Wansbeck, Ian’s reputation in the political world because of the area he represents and what goes on in this area supersedes anything that anybody does.
"He stands up there with his big chest out, shouts, screams, bawls and gives everything for this area. I have tried to do that on his behalf for this football club but unfortunately I spoke to him six weeks ago with concerns of where I believe this football club was.
"The team have done excellent this year. They have played five of the top seven – five of them away from home – and could have been six or seven points better off. Unfortunately they are not and that’s where they are as a club so I came to the conclusion that the best thing for me would be to leave Ashington FC but in doing so, I wish them all the best in everything they do.
"I’ll still support them and try to enhance the name of Ashington FC.”
He continued: “I’m not going to cast aspersions. We have got a great chairman, a great leader of this area - but unfortunately Ashington FC need on a daily basis, club people to drive it forward and I don’t believe they have got that and because of that, I think they are standing still.
"The back end of Gary Middleton’s tenureship and all of my tenureship, has been this club standing still and I don’t think that will change and that is why I have come to this decision. We had a fully qualified physio [Jay Robertson] and a kit man and the biggest loss to Ashington FC is not myself, Lee Hall as goalkeeping coach or Lee Anderson as assistant manager – but Alan Brown [Kit man] because of the person who goes with it. And when all the management staff are leaving it tells you that there is something not quite right.
"I’ve never been somebody who will not hold back – and I want to portray the truth. All I have done over the last two and a half years is to try and make the club better. Maybe I’ve been too professional and that’s why I have cut ties and feel I have got to move on.
"At 16 years old I represented this football club; at 18 I had to stop playing. I came back as manager with my best mate Lee Anderson and Ian Skinner. The players are gutted about the news but things will move on and someone else will come in.
"Ashington FC should be with the history of this town and the sporting tradition which they have got, one of the big names in lights in non league football.
“I have not left for footballing reasons, I have left for non footballing reasons. That’s a concern but hopefully it’s a positive. Ian Lavery will still remain one of my closest friends and I will respect him as a person, as an MP and as a professional because I know what it’s like to be in the public eye and he has my utmost respect and this club will always remain really, really close to my heart.
"Unfortunately the honesty I have always had as a person and a professional has come out today. I have decided ‘enough is enough’ - and I have decided to leave the club.
"The lads on the playing side are brilliant. We have got four 18 year olds on that pitch most games and the club has made the best start in a number of years. We were getting somewhere and unfortunately this is the most disappointing thing. I have said to them [the players] that we have literally run our race and we cannot do this any more.”