Blackwell spins into contention

ON SONG: Ian Blackwell

lContinued from Back Page

information on how to get involved with cricket as well as featuring some celebrity endorsements from the likes of Ian Botham, Brendan Foster and Sir Bobby Robson.

Clive Leach, chairman of the club, said: “The long term aim of Durham County Cricket Club has been to stage international cricket of the highest standard in the North-East.

“Last year, the Ashes captured the imagination of the nation, not least here in the North-East with Stephen Harmison and Paul’s Collingwood involvement.

“It’s our intention to bring one of the greatest sporting events to the Riverside.”

Durham and England star Liam Plunkett (pictured) said: “Walking out to play for England in front of your home crowd must be one of the most special feelings a player can ever experience and to do that in an Ashes Test would be unbelievable.

“We have three players in the England set up at the moment and with the strength of the Durham Academy, there could be a host of local lads battling it out for Ashes places at the Riverside in 2009.”

Alan Clarke, One NorthEast Chief Executive, said: “The benefits to the region of staging an Ashes Test at the Riverside and securing a host of other internationals would be huge.

“This would be a massive boost for the region as a whole.”

HARTLEPOOL’S Graeme Storm today heads for sun-drenched California – to do battle with the greatest golfers on the planet.

Storm (pictured) is set to compete at the prestigious World Golf Championships - Accenture World Match Play on Thursday and he will go boosted by a top-ten finish at the Maybank Malaysian Open yesterday.

The WGC event at the La Costa Resort includes 63 of the top 64 players in the world including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen and Storm was today awaiting the draw, due to be made this afternoon.

The Hartlepool Golf Club pro, who finish 31st in last year’s Order of Merit, fired a sensational final round 65 to finish in joint eight in Kuala Lumper in a rain-interupted tournament that was cut to just 54 holes.

Korea’s Charlie Wi held his nerve to win after he came up with a crucial birdie on the final hole to complete a final round of 63, nine under par.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee still had the chance to catch him at the last as he lined up a birdie putt, but he was unsuccessful with his effort and had to settle for second spot.

Wi finished 19 under par for the tournament and his reward was a first prize of 208,330 US dollars (119,709).

“I’m really speechless. Coming in here, I wasn’t expecting to win. I got a lot of good breaks today,” Wi said.

“And then Thongchai misses that putt on the last hole which really helped me win the championship. I just feel fortunate, all the hard work paid off.”

BILLINGHAM Synthonia kept alive their hopes of finishing runners-up in the Arngrove Northern League First Division – but they were pressed all the way by relegation-threatened Ashington at Central Avenue on Saturday.

The home side created a number of chances which they failed to convert and nearly paid the penalty when Shaun Hope had to clear from Alex Lawson.

Soon afterwards, Synners scored the only goal as David Wells collected a pass from Tony Wood and set up Colin Iley, who easily beat Ashington goalkeeper Andy Clark from close-range.

Billingham Town drew 1-1 at Dunston Federation, who had Michael Farrey dismissed on 45 minutes. The home side went a goal up on five minutes, as Graeme Armstrong gave goalkeeper Darren Collier no chance.

Collier made a brilliant save from Armstrong, before Billingham levelled in the 20th minute. A cross from Chris Emms was met by Jim Clarke at the far post.

The Town attempted to press home their numerical advantage during the second period, but the Fed defence was resolute.

Norton and Stockton Ancients maintained their challenge for one of the three promotion places in Division Two with a 1-0 victory at Prudhoe Town.

The goal came from Prudhoe’s Michael Cunningham, who put the ball into his own net after seven minutes.

Peterlee Newtown’s home fixture with Marske United was postponed because the ground was unfit.

HORDEN CW drew 1-1 visiting second-from-bottom Esh Winning.

A patchy game in which both teams had opportunities, Horden kept possession for much of the time but Esh Winning had most chances to take the lead and in fact could have been three or even four goals ahead had it not been for Phil Naisbett in the Horden goal.

Horden had their chances, but as usual were unable to put the ball over the line.

Stuart Brightwell had an ideal opportunity to put Horden in the lead, but his shot hit the bar.

In the 23rd minute, Jason Ainsley lobbed the ball to Lee Ure who blasted the ball home from 12 yards out.

After taking the lead, Horden had chances that really should have put the result out of sight, but once again their accuracy let them down.

In the second half, Esh Winning took over and it was not until the 70th minute when Nigel Bolton, on his home debut, equalised.

This was his second game for Esh, he has scored twice and is the top scorer.

The draw was probably a fair result, but Horden should be playing much better against a team that is currently occupying a relegation spot.

lCeltic skipper Neil Lennon joked Artur Boruc might have to court controversy every week after his team-mates responded to his comments with a record-breaking 8-1 demolition of Dunfermline.

Manager Gordon Strachan and his players could not have gone into the Bank of Scotland Premier League clash in better mood after laughing at the revelations in a Sunday newspaper.

Quotes attributed to the Polish international goalkeeper claimed John Hartson was ‘lazy’ and Roy Keane was ‘arrogant’.

Maciej Zurawski hit four fabulous goals amid a flurry of strikes for Stilian Petrov, Hartson, Shaun Maloney and Lennon as Celtic became the first side to hit eight in the SPL.