Whitby Town rocked by player exodus

Nathan Mulligan has a shot at goal for Whitby in their 2-1 win over relegated Stafford'picture: Brian Murfield
Nathan Mulligan has a shot at goal for Whitby in their 2-1 win over relegated Stafford'picture: Brian Murfield
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Whitby Town have been rocked by an exodus of players, with Tom Portas and Nathan Mulligan following top scorer Graeme Armstrong and keeper Shane Bland out the exit door.

But boss Darren Williams has reacted calmly and said there are six or seven players in the pipeline – including former Premier League star Robbie Blake, as well as others who have played at football league level.

Ex-Leeds, Birmingham and Burnley striker Blake (38) will be among a handful of players Williams wants to look at pre-season as the Blues embark on a rebuilding programme.

Last week, the Whitby Gazette told how 30-goal Armstrong had chosen to leave for Darlington to cut down on his travelling.

Mulligan – a bit-part player last season – was next to announce his departure, as he wants more first team football and more time with his family. He is to join local rivals Guisborough Town.

And supporters were left stunned this week when popular Portas too declared he was going, joining up with Armstrong at Darlington.

A further question mark lies over the future of 23-year-old midfielder Shane Henry, with approaches made for the player from other clubs.

But Williams has stressed that he only wants players who are 100% committed to the club.

“If they don’t want to be here, than that’s there prerogative. It’s harsh on the rest of the team to try to keep those players here,” he said.

“Three of the four players going have been in and out of the side. I love a player who wants to play week in week out but if you are not producing the goods, no player can be automatically put in the side.

“If there’s unrest with the player, it can create unrest with some of the others in the team.

“I want a team that’s together, with good attitudes and don’t have a pet lip on, but want to get onto the pitch, produce the goods and fight for the shirt.

“Do I want players who give me 70 to 80%? No, I want someone who gives me 100%.”

In a statement this week, club chairman Graham Manser said: “We did not want to lose Graeme Armstrong and made

him an offer that was possibly the best offer made to a Whitby Town FC player.

“Sadly he chose to go to Darlington. Obviously travelling was a problem and we wish him well in his future.

“In regards to Tom Portas, he asked to leave Whitby Town FC for a fresh challenge although he was still under contract.

“Whitby Town does not believe in keeping a player who wishes to leave the club and at this time any deal has not been finalised. As soon as it is we will inform the supporters.

“Obviously we are disappointed and wish Tom well.

“As far as Whitby Town FC is concerned Shane Henry is under contract and is a valued Whitby Town player – and if he wishes to leave he will need to speak to Darren Williams as, to be fair, Graeme Armstrong and Tom Portas did.

“We must believe in Darren to find some more players to continue our success.”