Steve Harmison is a north east sporting hero, a key member of the England cricket team that won the Ashes in 2005.
Coming from the famous sporting home of Ashington, birthplace of Jackie Milburn, he is also a Newcastle fan.
After helping his country to win The Ashes, Steve Harmison was given a seat for life at St James Park by Freddy Shepherd.
Interviewed after Sunderland’s relegation, the former cricketing star says that it is ‘amusing’ that the Mackems have gone down after their reaction to Newcastle United’s recent relegations.
However, he claims that if you asked any ‘hardened, Newcastle fan’ and they were honest, ‘everyone to a man would say yes’ to having the derby matches return as soon as possible.
Hmmm, not so sure about ‘everyone’.
As for how Newcastle United are doing, Steve Harmison states that Rafa Benitez ‘has taken a lot of Championship-calibre players’ and done ‘amazingly’ well in the Premier League this season.
Declaring he is not a ‘massive Mike Ashley hater’, Steve Harmison appears to have a strange definition of what ‘stable’ means, saying ‘The club [Newcastle] is stable under him [Mike Ashley] but it is standing still. It’s not as volatile, or up and down as other clubs…’
Well, in the last seven Premier League campaigns, Newcastle have been relegated twice under Mike Ashley, plus two very near misses. You can’t really get any more ‘up and down’ than two relegations and two promotions in these last nine seasons.
in fact I would say ‘volatile’ is exactly what the club is under the current owner, with these past three transfer windows seeing fans fearing Rafa is going to leave, as the manager has made clear each time that ‘promises’ have not been kept by Ashley.
The only way to achieve ‘stability’ is if a club has real ambition and shows it, this will never happen whilst Mike Ashley owns NUFC.
Steve Harmison talking to Sky Sports:
“It is scary how far the club [Sunderland] has fallen.
“From a tongue-in-cheek point of view, it’s amusing as Sunderland fans were basking in the glory when Newcastle were relegated a couple of times.
“But, for the hardened Newcastle fan, if you honestly asked them would they like to have the derby back, everyone to a man would say yes.
“A Newcastle-Sunderland derby season goes to the workplace, the houses, the families. It’s like two cup finals a year.
“That is now a couple of years away, at least. But, in reality, its light years away.
“We’re currently doing well under Rafa Benitez but we have got to keep him.
“Europe next season might be a stretch but if we don’t move forward now we never will and, while Rafa is there, we’ve got someone who knows how to do the job properly.
“He has taken a lot of Championship-calibre players and looks likely to finish ninth in the Premier League with them. That’s credit to the players, but it also shows the respect they have for the manager, buying into ideas.
“He’s done amazingly to get the team to the position they’re in.
“I’m not a massive Mike Ashley hater.
“The club is stable under him but it is standing still. It’s not as volatile, or up and down as other clubs, but you’d like him to spend a bit more money.”