Craig Harrison will take his TNS team ‘home’ tomorrow.
The New Saints will face Middlesbrough FC in a behind closed doors friendly at the Teesiders’ Rockcliffe Park training ground.
The Gateshead born Harrison played for ‘Boro’ during the late 1990’s and helped his side reach two successive League Cup Finals. Whilst at The Riverside, he was part of the successful Middlesbrough side that achieved promotion to the English Premier League.
The former defender won the Fans Young Player of the Year during his debut season and admitted that it was always a pleasure to play in front of the Middlesbrough fans, ‘During my time there the club was thriving and it really was such a pleasure to play in front of the Middlesbrough fans. To be getting 30,000 people week in, week out was wonderful and it was a real joy to be part of the club during one of the most exciting times in the history of the football club. The fans were fantastic, especially with home grown players which during that time there were about seven or eight at the club. The fans really wanted to see the young local lads coming through and it was a great experience to be part of.’
Harrison made his Premier League debut against Leeds United at the Riverside Stadium and highlighted that particular game as one of the most memorable moments in his football playing career, ‘Making my Premier League debut against Leeds United was a really special moment for me. I had played quite a lot during the previous season and to make my Premier League debut at such a young age was brilliant.’
In August 2000, he joined London side Crystal Palace, where the promising defender played with some more wonderful footballers, ‘I played with some amazing players during my career such as Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Nigel Pearson, Bryan Robson, Andy Townsend, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Merson, Christian Ziege, Dougie Freedman, Mark Schwarzer and the list goes on.
The 35 year old is now based in Chester but will always have fond memories of his time in the North East and admitted that he is excited about going back tomorrow, ‘ I am excited to go back . I know a lot of people there and it will be great to catch up with some familiar faces.’