Rugby: Sunderland honour club legend Tommy Harrison
A memorial rugby match will be held for Sunderland RFC legend Tommy Harrison before his ashes are scattered on the pitch he graced for 45 years.
Former first XV player, captain and coach Tommy died last June from a brain aneurysm, aged 61.
Family, including daughter Stephanie, friends and former team-mates will gather at his beloved Ashbrooke on Saturday, where a day of celebrations has been planned, including hanging his number 7 shirt in the clubhouse.
Chairman Paul Geehan described Tommy, also a first XV coach, club referee and club treasurer, as a legend.
“Many of us still expect him to walk through the door. Everybody misses him. He has left a massive hole,” said Geehan.
Tommy, who originally trained as a pit blacksmith, worked on the door at Finos nightclub, later worked in property management. He joined Sunderland at 16 and played until he was 61.
Geehan added: “It’s only really sinking in now that he’s not going to be around.
He was one of the kindest and most generous men you could meet. It’s going to be an emotional day.”
Sunderland’s veteran team, the Statics, take on West Hartlepool at 12:30pm at Ashbrooke, followed by the first XV’s league clash with Sedgefield. The teams will gather while Tommy’s ashes are scattered at 5pm.
Former team-mate Tony Watt said: “He was a character who left an impression on everybody he met.
“He was a massive presence within the club and lots of lads are coming to be there on what will be a special day.”