JOHN Harrison will be a guest on BBC Radio Newcastle’s Total Sport programme this evening talking about two of the great loves of his life coming together – golf and Middlesbrough Football Club.
The footballer’s son was one of the first of the North East’s talented band of PGA golf professionals to get behind the inaugural Golf North Show, which starts a three-day run at the Riverside Stadium a week tomorrow.
Persuading Harrison to agree to put on his legendary exhibition clinics on the Saturday and Sunday of the show was a coup for the organisers.
Described as “the coach’s coach”, Harrison guides all levels of player, from Ashington’s three-time European Tour winner Kenneth Ferrie to youngsters cleaning up the trophies in their club junior sections.
He will have your humble correspondent keeping him company as a fellow guest on Simon Pryde’s radio show tonight.
The son of former Carlisle United winger Bob Harrison, John has given up his Boro season ticket now he is travelling the globe on the European Senior Tour.
But why does he not support Carlisle?
That was where he grew up and his first golf club as a junior was Brampton in Cumbria.
Now the head of coaching at Matfen Hall, Harrison was the Barnard Castle club professional for 16 years between 1978 and 1994.
His love affair with Boro began at Ayresome Park in the days when Tony Mowbray was a player.
“We were snowed under at the golf club virtually the whole time during my first six months as the Barney club pro,” he said. “It was a bad winter.
“I was lodging in the village of Gainford – midway between Darlington and Barnard Castle – with the then golf club captain John Hodgson, a farmer who was a Boro fan.
“There was not that much we could do at the golf club in that weather so I started watching Boro regularly with John Hodgson.”
Harrison asked: “How could I miss doing my bit for the first golf show at the Riverside Stadium?
“I can still see that lovely little player Juninho in my mind’s eye. Just like Gazza, he always wanted to make something happen. I love to see flair in golf as well and I shall be talking about and illustrating all the shots in the book to the audiences at the golf show on the Saturday and Sunday of the show.
“I shall not just be talking about length and accuracy off the tee, I shall also be illustrating what you can make happen round the green and on it.”
Harrison is a former North Region coach for England Golf, and the players he coached included a teenage Graeme Storm, Hartlepool’s European Tour winner. He added: “I still have a soft spot for Carlisle, but Bonny Boro have been my No 1 football club ever since I lodged in Gainford.
“It is an honour to join my friend Craig Hignett in being an ambassador for the show, and I am proud of my football club putting on the only golf show in the North.”
:: TICKETS for the golf show can be pre-booked at a saving at www.golf-north.co.uk or on 0333 240 5790. Visitors to the show can also pay on the day (£12) at Boro’s East Stand ticket office. Under-16s will be admitted free.