Pope: Hawks players let us down

Manager Lee Bradbury and Scott Donnelly look dejected after the Hawks 1-1 draw with Weston-super-Mare confirmed their relegation from National League South Picture: Mick Young
Manager Lee Bradbury and Scott Donnelly look dejected after the Hawks 1-1 draw with Weston-super-Mare confirmed their relegation from National League South Picture: Mick Young
The Hawks suffered FA Trophy semi-final heartbreak against Gosport Borough in 2014. Picture: Paul Jacobs

Bradbury: Hawks stronger than when we reached FA Trophy semi-final

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HAWKS Chairman Derek Pope delivered a withering verbal attack on his players after the club were relegated from Vanarama National League South on Saturday.

Pope was damning in his assessment of their efforts to keep the Westleigh Park side up, accusing some of not caring enough.

Clearly upset and angry following the disappointing 1-1 draw with Weston-super-Mare on the final day of the season when a win was needed, he laid the blame firmly at the players’ door.

‘This (relegation) is heartbreaking for the club,’ said Pope

‘It is very disappointing but it is not just about Saturday’s result.

‘Over the whole season we got what we deserved.

‘My only worry was that we had a few players out there on Saturday who didn’t show any belief in this football club whatsoever.

‘It hurts me because when I played it was always with my heart.

‘For a large part of the afternoon we looked like we were staying up without playing particularly well.

‘In the second half one or two players had their hands on their knees and looked like they didn’t really want to be here.

‘That did it for me, I am sorry

‘On paper we have got some very good players but they have not performed. We were in a position to get out of trouble but the players let us down.’

On a tense afternoon James Hayter’s first-half goal looked like saving the Hawks, with closest rivals Margate losing 2-0 at Bath City.

The other relegation-threatened side, St Albans, were winning 4-0 at home against Dartford so they were suddenly out of the equation.

All the time the Hawks were in front against Weston-super-Mare they were safe.

Disaster struck, however, in the 73rd minute when the visitors capitalised on a mistake and equalised – and again Pope pulled no punches in his assessment.

‘What Matt Paterson did, trying to beat a player when he was the last defender, was unforgivable,’ he said.

‘To do something like that when all he had to do was kick it out was unbelievable.

‘It hurts me to pick a player out but sometimes that needs to be done.

‘With all the hard work put into this club over the years, Saturday was a tragedy.

‘Too many out there have not put enough effort into it and could have done a lot better.

‘We have to get players into the club who want to play for us and are not just here to get paid.

‘At the moment there are too many of the latter here.

‘Once we get that sorted out we can knuckle down and set about getting back into this league.’

The Hawks will now wait to find out which league they will be playing in next season – the Ryman Premier or Southern League Premier.