It was a cold tuesday night in West Sussex, and as much as the winter weather had started to kick in with rain and wind, the game showed no signs of being called off. The Enclosed Ground (Whitehawk’s stadium) was quite the venue for a non-league club. Three different stands, two with covers. Whitehawk have a reputation of being one of the biggest non-league clubs in Sussex and it was fair to say they did not disappoint.
Unfortunately, fans didn’t necessarily get the game they had bargained for as the points were shared for both sides. The game ended 0-0 which does not really benefit either side. Whitehawk will be happy to get a point but for Burgess Hill they will feel as though it was two points dropped rather than a point gained. This meant Burgess Hill went up a position in the table as they went from 20th to 19th and Whitehawk stayed the same in 18th, a win for either side could have been the catalyst to their seasons.
Packed out in their numbers, the attendance was 340, impressive for a Tuesday night. There was no doubt it would be an intimidating place to come to for the away side. With the club getting 400+ fans for most Saturday home games the Whitehawk faithful showed no signs of letting up as they were banging their drums and chanting from minute one to 90, it was fair to say the dedication and love that the fans have is something special and unique, something that you don’t always see in the higher professional leagues.
Speaking to vice chairman Kevin Miller he had only good things to say about the club. With them reaching national league south in 2016 and getting to the 3rd round of the fa cup it was fair to say that the club has high aspirations.
The Whitehawk fans were a collective, a unit if you like. Any time there was a chance to score they would get their keys out and dangle them around to highlight a key chance, something light-hearted and actually very clever! But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the Hawks, they’re currently 18th in the league with only one win under their belt. Their opponents had lost all their games apart from one which they drew.
A problematic start to the season for both sides but as both teams warmed up with their snoods and warm up jackets, you felt as though this game could be the chance for either side to turn the tide on their season. Hawk fans will be looking at their new star man Charlie Lambert, a skilful winger who was recently acquired from national league south side Eastbourne Borough on a loan deal. The ex-Peacehaven player brings bags of experience and was hoping to get off the mark for the season as Whitehawk have struggled to score with just six goals in eight.
Whitehawk promote inclusion and equality in everything they do, their main stand has a set of stairs that are painted saying ‘Love, peace, no racism, no sexism, no violence, no homophobia’. Something that Miller said to me was that he wants to make everyone feel included at the club and everybody is welcome. More football clubs should be as brave and bold as they are in showing that.
The game kicked off and after a scrappy start it was actually Burgess Hill who looked more comfortable, getting the ball down and playing through the midfield, it showed how the quality in non-league is really on the rise. After some nice hold up play from Michael Uwezu he slipped his winger who cut in to take a shot that looked as if it was reaching the top corner. Whitehawk keeper Nathan Stroomberg leaped up like a salmon to tip it away for a corner, a superb save.
A player that caught my eye for Whitehawk was Henry Muggeridge he seemed to operate in the false 9 role, dropping deep into the top of midfield and making things happen, almost like a non-league Bobby Firmino! His strike caught the eye of many fans but like earlier the keeper came to the rescue.
As the game progressed it was very evenly matched with both keepers bailing out either side, some fantastic saves were on show which I’m sure the keepers will be wanting to see again. Whitehawk attempted adopt an attacking style of play as their forwards combined some neat phases of play in order to exploit the Burgess defence. However, Jay Lovett’s men had more quality in the final third slipping their wide men in on numerous occasions to try and break the deadlock.
Both sides will be able to take positives from each game but it’ll be interesting to see when both teams get their seasons off the ground. The two sides have to face each other in January 2022 where Burgess Hill host the hawks.
Burgess Hill host Sevenoaks at home next week whereas Whitehawk travel to Sevenoaks. It’s not too late for either side to get their season off the ground.