Sunday, 28 March 2010

Whitehawk FC


Whitehawk 0-2 Wroxham (28:03:10)

- Click on photos to enlarge image -

It was billed as one of the biggest days in Sussex Non-League football for 20 (20!) years. A team based in the east end of Brighton in the semi final of the FA Vase against Wroxham aka The Yachtsman from Norfolk. Wroxham the holiday village on the doorstep of the Norfolk Broads against Whitehawk, the estate that rivals Moulsecoomb for the title of Brighton's "finest" suburb. Game on.

Bricking it. A fancy bit of work above the bar in the new clubhouse.

...and the odd EFW apprentice.

It's only the actual FA Vase.

EFW legend Sam Crabb. Shamefully left on the bench until the 85th minute. Tsk.

So what were my credentials for hopping on board the Hawks bandwagon? Well *thinking quickly* I only live 3 miles from the ground (tick) and thus I was able to walk to the ground - which means there is 0.8m Man Utd fans who can't have a pop (cheap gag that - Ed). I'm also their lucky mascot having seen them win their first trophy for umpty thrumpty years last season when they won the Sussex County Cup. Thirdly, I give you Sam Crabb. Crabby is the EFW sponsored player this season. I signed him up for Lewes but he moved to Whitehawk midway through the season.

Crabby's move highlights the fact that Whitehawk actually have more money than Lewes. They are backed by a couple of wealthy types and are very much a club on the up. For this game their average home crowd was 10x the norm with 1,331 punters putting 6GBP each into a plastic pint pot upon entering the Enclosed Ground. The odd 31 were made up of the travelling contingent from Norfolk. Fair play to them.

The last time this ground was full was for an FA Vase match with Truro a couple of seasons back. On that day a minor bit of crowd trouble marred the day and took the headlines. Pleasingly, everyone was on their best behaviour for this cup tie and the club will have done themselves the world of good in terms of publicity, despite the result. The ground is also one of the more picturesque you'll find in Sussex and no mistake. Well worth the visit.

The first thing you notice as you enter the ground is the exaggerated slope of the pitch. Mmm....a sloping pitch which invoked memories of classic cup ties of yesteryear at the likes of Barnet and Yeovil. Not only is the pitch a sloper but the main stand is wonky as well. I'd had my fill of Guinness when I took up my position on the terracing/muddy banks granted but someone else will confirm the slopage factor of this ground I'm sure. It's up in the high 70's.

The crowd was made up of mainly Brighton & Hove Albion fans buoyed by their recent form as well as representatives from lots of Non-League clubs around Sussex. There was also a large EFW contingent with friends from Shrewsbury Town, Bournemouth and The Lewes Lunatic Fringe present. Even the infamous Merstham ultras had put in a Sunday shift. Phwoar!

The headless man! Worth clicking to enlarge this one. What the.....

1 x sloping main stand. Tick.

An actual "white hawk" carved into the hills by local artists in 2001.

The ref leads the charge to the bar for a half time pint.

The most scenic throw-in of the season?

Aside from a trip to Wembley, the talk of the terracing/muddy banks was the corn beef vol au Vents in the VIP tent beforehand. How the other half (FA suits mainly) live eh!? With these players being of the County League persuasion we were also hoping to see some players the size of bus in the belly department. As it was, Hawks joint-gaffer George Parris took the stakes by virtue of the fact he is now the width of 2 x Micky Quinns.

So what of the match? It has to be said Whitehawk fluffed their lines. The first half was fairly drab as nerves and the bobbly surface made things difficult for both sides. In the second half Wroxham and in particular Steve "Spriggsy" Spriggs began to turn the screw for the underdogs. Paul Cook put his noggin to good use by heading their opener just seconds after the break and Andy Eastaugh's 25 yard screamer put the gloss on the away sides 2-0 win.

Whitehawk's best moment came courtesy of a dipping shot from Danny Davis who rattled the bar in the first half and their worst came in injury time when the other joint-gaffer Darren Freemen was sent for an early bath by virtue of a rouge elbow into one of the oppositions boatrace - allegedly. One goal would have set the second leg up nicely. As it is, Wroxham now look favourites to join possibly Vase specialists Whitley Bay at Wembley. Good luck to them.

Trees are good, trees are good...

EFW Man of the Match "Spriggsy".

The Wroxham ultras.

Big Mac, fries to's Georgie Parris.

Norfolk-ing good. 2-0 Wroxham.

For more photos of the day CLICK ME.

- Feel free to comment below -


Jamie Dunne said...

Good effort guys,nice to see some vase action

Jamie Dunne

Graham Yapp said...

I was there ... loved the ground, great occasion. Agree with Spriggsy as MoM, and think the headless man deserves greater national recognition (or at least a trial with Portsmouth). I guess that playing the first leg at home was a big disadvantage for Whitehawk, and Wroxham silenced the crowd pretty effectively. Was nice to see the Vase, and that it still matters. GY

Glaucus said...

Dp away goals count double if the scores are even ?

Danny Last said...

@Jamie - Thanks very much.

@Graham - I guess Whitehawk got pretty complacent, what with fielding headless defenders and all. That'll learn them. I agree that the ground is a bit special. Great place to watch a match.

@Glaucus - Away goals don't count in the FA Vase semi finals so it'll be extra time and penalties if necessary.

minha vida na europa said...

Hi everybody and Congratulations Wroxham FC and just look the photos from the game yesterday on site
I went to game I have this photos on my site. kind regards
Dirceu Antunes , brazilian journalist

Danny Last said...

@Dirceu - Nice one! All the way over from Brazil to cover Whitehawk my friend!?

Danny Last said...

There is also another great set of photos from the ever-superb David Bauckham here:

Best viewed as a slideshow I fancy.

Anonymous said...

So moneybags Whitehawk and their criminal fraternity backers move on to the Ryman League.
What a dump and what scumbags.