Monday 28 August 2023

Whitehawk - The Enclosed Ground

Whitehawk FC
The Enclosed Ground
East Brighton

01273 609736 
Official Website


Ground Number: 420
Saturday 11th October 2014
Whitehawk 4-4 Chelmsford City
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round


The club was founded as the Second World War ended in 1945 as Whitehawk & Manor Farm Old Boys. The original name relates to the Brighton Boys' Club, from Whitehawk and the adjoining Manor Farm estate, who wished to continue playing football but were too old to play in the youth league. One of the club's founders, Ron Powell, entered the new team in the Brighton Junior League which they won in their first season. They then joined the Brighton Hove & District League, winning Division 4 in 1948 and Divisions 3 & 2 in the next two seasons. They were then twice Division 1 champions.

After their second title, they were accepted into the Sussex County League after being turned down the season before. They were very successful, finishing as Division 1 runners-up for three seasons between 1955 and 1957. They changed their name to Whitehawk in 1960 and were Sussex League champions in 1962 and 1964. In 1967, they were relegated to Division 2 but bounced back at the first attempt. Another relegation followed in 1977; this time, it would be four seasons before they were promoted back as champions in 1981. They were Sussex League champions again in 1984 and runners-up a number of times before they lifted the title for the 4th time in 2010.

By now, they had the facilities and ambition to step up to the Isthmian League. A third-place finish was a great start, but they missed out in the playoff semi-finals to Leatherhead. They put that right the following season by winning the league title and lifted the Isthmian Premier title the following year. Good finishes in 2015 and 2016 saw them get to the Conference South playoffs but they missed out to Boreham Wood and Ebbsfleet United. It was around this time that they tried to change their name to Brighton City and move temporarily to the Withdean Stadium whilst they redeveloped their ground but this was vetoed. Disappointment was just around the corner as Whitehawk suffered a double relegation in 2018 & 2019 to find themselves in the Isthmian D1 South. Four seasons were spent at this level before they won promotion back through the playoffs, beating Beckenham Town and Hythe Town 1-0 after a 3rd place finish to return to the Isthmian Premier.

Whitehawk's best FA Cup run came in 2015 as they beat Dulwich Hamlet, Gosport Borough and Lincoln City to get to the second round. They drew 1-1 at Dagenham & Redbridge before losing 3-2 in the replay. This game produced a record attendance of 2,174. The FA Trophy 2nd Round has twice been reached. A number of good FA Vase runs have been enjoyed, not least in their final season at step 5, 2009/10. They beat Littlehampton Town, Lingfield, East Grinstead Town, Fareham Town, Larkhall Athletic, Bristol Manor Farm, Marske United and Gresley to set up a two-legged semi-final against Wroxham. They won 2-1 in Norfolk in the second leg but had gone into it 2-0 down and therefore missed out on Wembley. Local cup honours include four Sussex Senior Cups, the Sussex Royal Ulster Rivals Cups, three John O Hara Challenge Cups and two Sussex Junior Cups. They've also won the Sussex Intermediate Cup in 1950, the Hove & Worthing Cup in 1946 and the Sussex Community Shield in 2012.

Whitehawk players with connections to Wycombe Wanderers include Elliot Benyon, Tom Cadmore, Adam El-Abd, Hogan Ephraim, Matt Lawrence, Scott McGleish, Junior Morias, Sergio Torres, Nick Arnold, Jamie Young, Matt Barnes-Homer, Lance Cronin, David Gipp and Ben Strevens. Other famous names to play for Whithawk include Gerry Armstong, Marvin Elliott, Kevin Lisbie, Jefferson Louis and Jed Wallace. Famous names in the dugout include former West Ham defender George Parris, former Brighton player Darren Freeman who also played for the club, Steve King and Andy Woodman. Yet another Wycombe connection is Richard Hill. Most well known for his stints at Eastleigh he was assistant to John Gregory at Adams Park in the late 1990s. He had a brief spell as Whitehawk manager in 2016.

A section of Whitehawk's fans call themselves the Whitehawk Ultras. The Ultras aim to have fun, as well as espousing an “anti-homophobic, anti-sexist, anti-racist stance.” They promote local charitable causes, non-league football and togetherness, as an antidote to what they see as the commercialised world of the Premier League. The Ultras have links with similar other fans groups such as Eastbourne Town's Pier Pressure and have a number of original songs and rituals. The most 'famous' fan to visit though is the Wealdstone Raider who made his name here with his famous 'You want some?' rant. Whitehawk is a suburb in the east of Brighton, south of Bevendean and north of Brighton Marina. Whitehawk is a suburb in the east of Brighton, England, south of Bevendean and north of Brighton Marina. The population is around 14,000. Whitehawk was noted in 2010 to be in the 5% of most deprived areas in Great Britain. Funding of £7.4m was provided by the state and the local council to create a 'community hub'


I was keen to continue my FA Cup trail, having seen 7 games in the competition so far. Fellow hopper Anwar was keen to do one of the grounds he had left to do in the football league. On an occasion like this, we come to an agreement - I drop him off at the league ground, and then go off to a non-league game of my choosing. It's happened before with him at Leicester and me at Coalville and while I was at Shortwood United, he ticked off Conference side Forest Green Rovers. Originally I was dropping him off at Doncaster and going on to North Ferriby v Grantham. However, a couple of weeks before, the Donny game was called off due to international call-ups. This was soon remedied - he would go to Crawley, and I would complete one of the remaining two I had left in the Conference South, namely Whitehawk, who were facing Chelmsford City in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round. I was originally going to come here on the opening day of the season when they were playing Staines Town. But I decided to save the ground for a more attractive fixture and went to my local side Reading Town instead.  This would be my first fixture since my last groundhop on Tuesday at Hoddesdon Town. It was a bit of a bare week - usually, I like to get a fixture in on Friday night, but bar Torpoint Athletic, around a 500-mile round trip, there was nothing else, thanks mainly to the international break. Now I am keen on Friday football, but not keen enough to spend nigh on £60 on fuel alone, especially for one that not is at the top of my list for completion.


On the day of the game, I woke up at around 8 a.m. and watched some YouTube videos before getting out of bed and turning on my computer. I was browsing through Twitter when I noticed that our former player Sergio Torres was on a local TV channel in Brighton. I despaired initially when I saw that I couldn't get it as it was regional, but was pleased to find an online stream. He talked about how important the FA Cup was to Whitehawk FC amongst other things. Sergio was a real hero at Wycombe and had an interesting story about joining us. Initially, he paid his own airfare over here for a trial at Brighton, but that didn't work out. So he played for Molesey, eventually ending up at Basingstoke Town. It was here that he caught the eye of Wycombe manager John Gorman when we beat Basingstoke 7-2 in a pre-season friendly. He was signed up and spent 3 years weaving his magic in Wycombe's midfield before moving to Peterborough United in 2008. I had to pop down the shop to get my Mum some butter before I left, this in turn made me a bit late leaving. I had intended to go into Aylesbury beforehand, and still did, albeit rushing about. I got a couple of old games for my PS3 - Fifa 12 and Virtua Tennis 2009, as well as a couple of ciders I had not tried and a few bits for the game from B&M Bargains. As a consequence, I was a tad late meeting Anwar, getting there at 11.40. I was also further delayed stopping for petrol, but was still due to get to Crawley at 1.15, and with me making up time like I normally do, I was hoping to be there by 1PM.


No such luck! My sat Nav kept adding on delays. First off there was the consistently pathetic M25 which had delays near that pig ugly bridge near the Heathrow turn-off, which is constantly clogged up around there for no good reason. Then, some roadworks on the M23, with the usual invisible workmen. All in all, I was delayed an hour, getting to Crawley to drop him and his little lad Hicham off. Programming the Sat Nav I was fairly content at arriving at 2.45, and with making up time, it was soon down to 2.35, but then I hit Brighton. I should have known from the first impression - it was a right tip! Not the fault of the area, it was quite nice, but there was all rubbish everywhere, thanks to the council's obsession of recycling a million and one things. The pavement was littered with plastic boxes of bottles and cans, as well as bin bags. That didn't concern me though, but what did, was the horrific delays through the city's pathetic roads. I did about a mile in 40 minutes, cursing and stressing as I listened to BBC Sussex, which did an excellent job of providing goal updates. I'd already missed two goals that put the visitors 2-0 up in the first 5 minutes, then as I was getting out of the car at 3.15 I heard a big cheer as Whitehawk had got one back.

After parking up on some faded double yellow lines as close as I could get to the ground, I made my way in. I eventually got there at 3.20 and was charged £12 entry which happily included a programme, which was a pretty smart issue with a fair bit to read. My head was not in a happy state, and I needed a pint to calm it down. A pint of Strongbow was in order, and as you were officially not supposed to take it outside due to FA Rules that think we all turn into gobby hooligans if we have a pint when it's an FA Cup game as opposed to a league game, I stood near the clubhouse, ironically in the same spot the famous Wealdstone Raider made his name with a series of insults about Whitehawk.

There was no such ill feelings from me towards the club. Despite several people saying that it was 'a shithole' I quite enjoyed the ground. It was a strange and unique one I admit that, but that's what I like in some grounds, some individuality. Certainly, everyone from the club that I bumped into was super nice, from the gateman to the tea bar ladies. I had to wait around 15 minutes for my chips at half-time as they only had a small fryer, but at least they were freshly cooked. The game was an incredible 4-4 draw, sadly at the time I didn't do a match report but I've managed to dig up an old report that I'd initially lost thanks to Magzter. 

I made my way back to the car, having seen around half of a cracking game as I didn't have a clear sight of Whitehawk's equaliser, only seeing the ball go in through a crowd. I was pleased that Wycombe won 3-1 to go top of League 2 as our dream start to the season continued. I had to deal with the same road closures that I dealt with on the way in, with no diversion signposted. It was even worse for some Chelmsford fans I know as they didn't get to the game till nearly half time the poor lads. I got to Crawley at 6 and had the same crappy traffic on the M23 that I had suffered on the way there. From then on it was fairly straightforward. I dropped Anwar off at 7.20, getting home myself at 7.50. I spent the rest of my night watching the Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands game, and even had a nice chat with my Grimsby pals, jubilant with their 1-0 win at Wrexham. I also did some of this blog and had a couple of pints before going to bed around 11.


For my second game on Bank Holiday Monday, it would have to be a revisit. I'd roped in Anwar with the carrot of Whitehawk as it was a ground he was keen to visit. I was also keen to go back as I felt I'd not appreciated it as much as I should have the first time around. I turned up late due to traffic issues and as a result, parts of my blog were quite negative about the area. I love exploring cities and Brighton would be no exception with me making the most of it on public transport once I find a team to visit. For now, though, that would have to wait as I was coming by car. The tidying up of my blog took ages as it was a comprehensive but scruffy effort last time. I like to think I've gotten better at blogging and hopping over the years. Whitehawk had a fascinating history which even after the reblog, I'd only scratched the surface of. There was also the brilliant Whitehawk Ultras to look forward to and the teabar looked nice too.


We got there at 2:15 from our previous game at Little Common. The ground had not changed that much looking at the outside but unlike my late arrival last time, I discovered that the club has a huge car park that goes up behind the goal. This gave a great view of the pitch and I was unsurprised to see a few people trying to enjoy the game for free later. The stewarding was very rigorous and invasive throughout the afternoon and most places in the league aren't that full-on. At least they were polite though and after a bag search, I was in. Another hopper, George was not so lucky later as he got his bottle top confiscated despite them selling them in the ground. We were also moved on from the far side later on. It was £13 entry, not outrageous but a sign of how prices are creeping up. I was tempted by a pint but had vowed to have a few days off after a heavy weekend in that respect. Food was needed though and I got a huge portion of chicken wings, chips and a drink for £8. It was superbly cooked and very quickly served. The chips were nice and thick and well-browned and it was an early contender for tea bar of the season. Both sets of fans were in good voice throughout, especially the Whitehawk Ultras. By the time I'd finished my feast, it was almost time for kick-off so we went outside and picked our spot.
Looking at the table, Whitehawk were 12th whilst Horsham were 4th. The hosts had kicked off the season with a 2-1 loss at Margate and drawn 0-0 against Hastings United and 3-3 against Wingate & Finchley. They'd got their first win on Saturday, winning 3-1 at Billericay Town. Horsham were in better form, despite starting the season with a 2-1 loss to Hornchurch, They'd had three wins since, winning 3-1 at Cray Wanderers, 2-0 at Haringey Borough and 3-2 against Dulwich Hamlet. The hosts edged the game early on but it was Horsham that took the lead on 34 minutes. It was a brilliant curling corner that found the head of Jack Strange who headed home from six yards out. The lead only lasted for a couple of minutes as a looping ball was headed home by Dom Johnson-Fisher who was superb and the best player on the pitch all afternoon. Charlie Lambert's deflected low shot gave Whitehawk the lead on 59 minutes before Horsham were presented with a chance to equalise from the penalty spot. However, Jack Mazzone's effort was well-saved by Mitch Walker in the Whitehawk goal. The scoring was completed in injury time, the goal credited to Luke Robinson who profited after the Horsham keeper was caught out of position whilst attempting to assist with a leveller. This sent the majority of the 544 crowd home happy, though Horsham had bought a decent following too.


THE ENCLOSED GROUND must have been a really pretty ground back in its day. Certainly, the far side which is out of bounds to fans, still looks great with its banking where the ground has been carved out. The near side includes a small stand holding around 200. plus some hard flat standing. Both ends contain some seats from Brighton's old Withdean stadium, one covered, the other uncovered. They are not the prettiest, but they do the job I guess.

The bar and tea bar are standard football fare and do the job well. There was no club shop that I could see, but I'd recommend a visit to Whitehawk as they are a nice friendly club and it's a good relaxed atmosphere.



Not a lot had changed since my last visit ground wise. However, the tea bar was not top-notch and great value. A club shop with a range of stuff has also been added. The only negative is that the stewarding had become a bit rigorous but at least they were polite and courteous.

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