In a game that promised goals and excitement, the supporters left sharing the points.
Whitehawk fans left last night’s fixture with one point and a sore throat as they attempted to rally behind their team to push for that much needed goal and three points. From minute one right up until the final minute, the Whitehawk ultras sang from the top of their lungs. The chanting ranged from traditional chants of calling for each letter of Whitehawk all the way to a chant about a dog making its first cap for the Hawks as it ran onto the pitch – “We’ve got more dogs than you”.
The beating of the drum created an atmosphere you can only feel in the moment – optimism. It was clear to see the support Whitehawk have, attracting 300-400 people in attendance at each home fixture. Not only do they support the team throughout the game, they have done a lot more to support the club and make it feel like more of a community where everybody is welcome – doing brilliant things quietly. For example, Brighton and Hove buses donated two bus signs, the ones you see on the front of the buses which state which bus it is, to Whitehawk. The signs to be used as an electronic scoreboard. The Vice Chair of Whitehawk, Kevin Miller, told me before the game a fan of the club who also happens to be a carpenter, suggested making a box for the scoreboard to stand on off his own back. A thoughtful gesture which adds that little bit extra for fans on match days.
Another act of kindness from the loyal supporters involved the shed in which the electronic scoreboard stands on. Although it may not seem much, the shed was painted by supporters over the lockdown who were doing what they could to improve the club and make their time worthwhile.
An interesting area of fan involvement that is very unique to Whitehawk was the painting on the steps in the middle stand. The Vice Chair also told me that the fans wanted to put a few sayings on the steps of the stand that highlight the morals and values of the club. The phrases read: love, peace, no racism, no sexism, no violence, no homophobia – another reminder of the unity this club has, respecting everybody.
After seeing first hand the sense of unity from supporters at Whitehawk, I had a look to see if there was anything that the club had done to give back to fans. I came across an article from The Argus that mentioned a tribute Whitehawk had made to Charlie Standing – a war hero and long-time fan of the club. Charlie and his son attended many games to watch The Wickers play and just last year, to mark Whitehawk’s 75th anniversary, they unveiled a plaque as tribute to the war hero at their ground ahead of the fixture against Cray Wanderers – a heartwarming gesture.
The idea came about after Elliot Hasler (Charlie’s great-grandson) bought an advertising board at the ground. During a conversation with Kevin Miller it came to light that Charlie was his great-grandfather and he had just made a film about Charlie – World War II: The Long Road Home. Whitehawk changed their team shirt that year to replicate the 1945 shirt they started out with along with the badge on the shirt so that it said 75th anniversary underneath – a simple way of being thankful for the support of their fans.
A tweet that I discovered on Whitehawk FC twitter page during the midweek clash highlighted how a fan has had a change of heart in the team he supports. David Attree took to Twitter to express his reasoning behind why he has converted from being a lifelong Gunner to becoming a Wicker.
On the night both sides were wasteful in attack but goalkeepers Stroomberg-Clarke and Seymour made some great saves to maintain the draw. Burgess Hill looked likely to end the first half a goal or two up with a goal line clearance from Whitehawk and multiple saves from the goalkeeper. Whitehawk retaliated in the second half, creating chances but neither side had the required end product to put their team ahead.
Looking at previous results this fixture promised goals, over 2.5 goals and both teams scoring in Whitehawks last five and over 2.5 goals in four out of Burgess Hill’s last five. However, as the teams clashed at The Enclosed Ground neither managed to find the back of the net as the fans watched a bore draw.
A point for Whitehawk saw them climb several places up the ladder to 14th with eight points, ahead of East Grinstead Town, Faversham Town and Sevenoaks Town who are all on seven points – Whitehawk have played five matches, Sevenoaks have a game in hand playing four, East Grinstead and Faversham have two games in hand playing just three games so far. Burgess Hill climb two positions to 18th, just one point ahead of joint bottom place Whitstable Town and Phoenix Sports who are on four points – Burgess Hill have games in hand against both of these sides. Whitehawk are still unbeaten in all head to heads when facing Burgess Hill – six wins and two draws.
Despite the poor performance from both the sides, the unity and support shown from the Whitehawk fans was refreshing and gave all that attended a positive to take away on the night.