England shirts for Blues stars

The four Whitby Town players who represented a Football Association XI on Tuesday night, from left: Shane Henry, Shane Bland, Lee Mason and Tom Portas'picture: Paul Connolly
The four Whitby Town players who represented a Football Association XI on Tuesday night, from left: Shane Henry, Shane Bland, Lee Mason and Tom Portas'picture: Paul Connolly
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Four Whitby Town players were in England colours on Tuesday night in a special exhibition match to celebrate the Northern League’s 125th anniversary.

The Blues were promoted from the world’s second-oldest football league in 1997 and a bus-ful of Whitby Town supporters made the trip to Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park stadium to cheer on the club’s representatives

Goalkeeper Shane Bland featured off the bench at half-time, while midfielders Tom Portas, Shane Henry and Lee Mason all started the match against a Northern League select XI.

The Blues stars found themselves in the red of England as they starred for a Football Association outfit managed by England C coach Paul Fairclough.

Former Middlesbrough keeper Bland (19), who is moving to the USA in the summer to represent Georgia’s Savannah College, tweeted after the game: “Never been so happy with tonight’s experience representing @TurnbullTweeter and the @FA proud as punch.”

The Northern League side, which included ex-Whitby centre-half Darren Craddock, won 2-0 thanks to second half strikes from Ashington’s Andrew Johnson and Spennymoor’s Stephen Capper.

Back on the domestic scene, Whitby fell to a fifth defeat in six league games on Saturday as they were beaten 2-1 by play-off chasers Ashton United.

Report and pictures from the match on page 76.