Truro City travel to Whitehawk in the National League South next Saturday
Truro City make the 263 mile trip to Brighton to face Whitehawk in the National League South this Saturday.
Whitehawk came into the national consciousness thanks to the 2013 viral video by the so-called Wealdstone Raider which mocked the Brighton club’s small crowd and stadium. On the pitch though, Whitehawk are most definitely having the last laugh this season.
Lying third in the National League South, on the same number of points as second place Oxford City and just six points behind leaders Ebbsfleet, the Hawks are the league’s top scorers so far this season with 30 goals in 12 matches. They have been less convincing at the other end of the pitch though, conceding the most goals (17) of the top eight teams in the table.
Recent form has been impressive with a run of four straight league victories, most recently a 6-0 pummelling of St Albans City (the highlights of which are well worth a viewing on You Tube). And the Hawks are still in the FA Cup, progressing after seeing off Gosport Borough 2-1 in Tuesday's Third Qualifying Round replay.
This is Whitehawk’s third season in the second tier of non-league football. They arrived after three promotions in quick succession and having narrowly avoided relegation in their first Conference South season, almost made it promotion number four in 2014-15. Having finished fourth in the league, only an extra time winner from Boreham Wood in the play-off final denied them entry into the non-league’s top flight.
The financial injection from the pair of wealthy businessmen who took over Whitehawk in 2009, when the club was languishing in the Sussex County League, has undoubtedly fuelled that rise. However, success on the field has not been matched in commercial terms, especially when it comes to the supporter base.
Playing at one of the smaller grounds in the National League, the Enclosed Ground in a deprived part of Brighton, Whitehawk last season managed an average crowd of just 258, the smallest in the Conference South.
A major problem is the proximity of Brighton & Hove Albion. The Championship club’s shiny new 31,000 capacity stadium is just five miles north of Whitehawk’s and is located in a somewhat more salubrious part of town. Brighton are top of the table at the moment, and should the club make it to the Premiership next season, Whitehawk would likely find it even more difficult to tempt fans away from their higher profile local neighbours.
That hasn’t prevented the Hawks’ owners from putting forward plans to redevelop the ground into a 5,000 capacity stadium and rename the club Brighton City. And the wage bill must also be substantial given the number and calibre of new arrivals at the club in the last couple of years.
While some have questioned the sustainability of such a business model, what's certain is that Truro City will face a formidable group of players on Saturday.
The club added no fewer than 11 new faces in 2014 and was also busy this summer, especially in the international arena. Arriving from the Colombian premier division, Juan Cruz Gotta is a 6 ft 5 in Argentinean central defender. Meanwhile, French midfielder Stephane Ngamvoulou is described as a ‘box-to-box midfielder with good pace and energy’.
And just a week ago, Whitehawk added another player with top level experience in the shape of 31 year old former Fulham, Derby County (where he spent six years), Notts County and Crawley Town defender Dean Leacock.
There’s no doubt about the main threat up front. 6ft 4 in striker Danny Mills is now in his third year with the the club. Whitehawk’s top scorer in 2014-15, Mills has already bagged 13 goals in 14 appearances this season.
Second highest scorer of the season, with six goals, is midfielder Sam Deering. The ex-Chelsea and Charlton youth player has league experience with Oxford United and Barnet and joined the Hawks in 2014.
Finally, striker Jake Robinson is also a goal threat. The player, who made 123 Championship and League One appearances with local rivals Brighton and Hove Albion, scored 18 for Whitehawk last season. He has also bagged six so far in 2015.
Updated 11:21 - 14 Oct 2015 by Colin Bradbury