Young Clarets to lead out Northern Ireland

Last updated : 26 January 2007 By Tony Scholes
William (left) and Nathan - mascots in Freilassing
Our Irish contingent of Michael Duff, Steve Jones and Kyle Lafferty have again been called up and we all hope they are selected to play against a side that could include Danny Coyne. But no matter who plays there will be two youngsters who will have travelled from Burnley ready to enjoy their Windsor Park debuts as mascots.

Cousins William and Connor Irvine are local lads but have become Northern Ireland fans. I think this just might have something to do with the fact that their granddad Willie pulled on the green shirt of Northern Ireland on twenty-three occasions from 1963 to 1972.

The older of the two is 10-year-old William. He's the son of Willie's eldest son Darren and is not new to being a mascot. He, somewhat reluctantly, led the Clarets out against TSV Munich in Freilassing in 2004 with his friend Nathan Short, and just three months ago was with his younger brother George when they were mascots on the night we beat Preston.

Williams's cousin is 9-year-old Connor who was born on the day William was celebrating his first birthday. He is the son of Willie's youngest son Jonathan. Both of them were keen to see their granddad's country play and were rewarded with tickets as surprise Christmas presents. Now their wish has come true in more ways than one, after Darren was successful in making their day very special by arranging their mascot duties.

Proud granddad Willie said this week: “The boys were born and bred in England, but the family haven't let me down, they've kept the old country fresh in my memory. I just think it will be absolutely wonderful that they have the chance to lead out the team their granddad used to play for.”

Have a great time lads, and if you can have a word with Lawrie Sanchez before the game just ask him to give all three Clarets a game.