With the International break upon us, next weekend offers the opportunity to attend one of the many non-league fixtures that will be taking place. Of course with the continued corporisation of the Albion, this series of blogs about potential non-league clubs to visit in and around Sussex next Saturday could equally be billed as who will you support when the Albion are too busy cosying up to Richard Scudamore? In this first of a series of blogs this week, we take a look at the side who must be geographically closest to Falmer, Whitehawk.
So the Hawks now find themselves in Conference South having won the Ryman Premier league last season. This Saturday, they will be playing at home against Basingstoke Town at 3pm in Whitehawk. Many Albionites who made the trek to the pre-season friendly here have spoken excitedly about the many Albion memories you will be presented with should you visit the Enclosed Ground down in what is effectively part of East Brighton Park.
The number one most exciting thing is the fact that you’ll get a chance to reacquaint yourselves with your green Withdean seat. That’s right, Whitehawk purchased a load of those seats over the summer and have installed them in their east Brighton home - gold stars for anyone who finds their actual Withers seat. That wasn't the only change the Hawks were after - you probably saw the coverage from the 200% blog over the summer as the club’s board unsuccessfully attempted to change their name to Brighton City FC. It’s not their first attempt to change the club’s name - they were originally the brilliantly named Whitehawk and Manor Farm Old Boys until 1960.
Regardless of familiar seats and attempted name changes, Whitehawk are now playing in the sixth tier of English football after a remarkable rise. Only three seasons ago did the Hawks win just the Sussex County League and the excellent £10 admission price reflects this - a reminder of the charging structure of a proper north stand. If you are seriously looking for a long-term alternative to the Albion, season tickets are reasonably priced at £180 (£90 concession).
And if that wasn't enough, rumour has it that a baseball-cap clad Charlie Oatway was loitering about the place for the recent league fixture against Dover Athletic. So if all else fails, perhaps you could secure an interview with the former first team coach for TSLR so we can all find out why the Albion sacked him. In fact, that Dover match-up sounded even more incestuous for Albion fans than Whitehawk's personnel alone - both Nathan Elder and Mitchell Walker played for Athletic.
Thanks to the following blogs for helping with some background for this post: European Football Weekends (some of the photees here came from EFW); the Hovian (whose Withers seat photo we nicked); the Ball is Square; and My Brighton and Hove. For more information on Whitehawk FC, their official website is here and you can find them on Twitter here.