EX-INTERNATIONAL cricketer Steve Harmison launched his benefit year at a star-studded event in Newcastle last night.
Proceeds from the benefit – a tradition where cricket clubs hold a year of fundraising events to celebrate long-standing players – will go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation for cancer research and support.
Former team mate and friend Andrew Flintoff spoke at the launch in Newcastle’s Bar Livello.
“This year’s all about giving back to a cricketer who’s done a lot for a lot of people,” said Flintoff, who was with Harmison in the team that won back the Ashes in the dramatic 2005 series. “There’s none better.”
Former and current Newcastle United players John Carver and Steve Harper also turned out to support the former world number one bowler.
Harmison, who has two Ashes wins and two county championship titles to his name, said he had chosen the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation because of his close personal relationship with the late England manager.
Sir Bobby invited Harmison to train with United in 2003 to help improve his fitness levels. After the period of training with the likes of Alan Shearer, he went on to play some of the best cricket of his career.
“Sir Bobby was a big cricket fan,” said Harmison, who still plays for Durham at a county level.
“Whenever he came to a match he would come and see me. You always knew when he was in because of his big Rolls Royce.
“He was so easy to speak to. He had time for everybody, even to the end.
“That’s why there’s only one charity for my benefit year,” he said.