WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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Craig Harrison

A FORMER Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Preston North End defender, Craig Harrison was appointed director of football at The New Saints at the end of December 2011.

He spent the previous four years at Airbus UK Broughton where he was appointed managerat the beginning of July 2008, following the shock departure of Gareth Owen to concentrate on a playing career with Rhyl.

Gateshead-born Harrison signed YTS forms with Middlesbrough as a 16-year-old teenager and was given his first team debut two years later by then manager and England legend Bryan Robson. By the time Harrison broke into the side there was a huge buzz on Teesside, with the attraction of Robson and generosity of chairman Steve Gibson resulting in the arrival of the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Juninho.

However, despite making an instant impact on the club's fortunes, Harrison's career was to falter after a catalogue of misfortunes. A burst appendix kept him out of the game for 18 months and he then found his spot at left back occupied by Christian Ziege.

After enjoying a brief loan spell when David Moyes took him to Preston North End, he caught the eye of Crystal Palace manager Alan Smith who splashed £250,000 to take him to Selhurst Park. But a double compound fracture ended his football career until a chance meeting with Owen at a surprise birthday party resulted in him succeeding Allan Bickerstaff as Owen's assistant at The Airfield in 2007.

Since joining TNS, Harrison's side has dominated the Welsh Premier scene, winning five consecutive titles and claiming a domestic treble on two occasions.

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25 May 2017

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