Woodford makes Hawks return

Ryan Woodford, right, has returned to the Hawks after a spell at Gosport Borough Picture: Keith Fuller
Ryan Woodford, right, has returned to the Hawks after a spell at Gosport Borough Picture: Keith Fuller
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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A familiar face is back at Westleigh Park after Lee Bradbury persuaded Ryan Woodford to return from Gosport Borough.

The central defender left the Hawks before the start of last season in a bid to gain regular first-team football.

Woodford was a product of Pompey’s Academy system but was released in the summer of 2009, after being a regular fixture in the then Premier League club’s under-18 side.

He joined the Hawks shortly afterwards.

Quickly becoming a member of the starting XI, the defender played 19 games before sustaining an injury at Maidenhead in November 2009.

That kept him of action for all but six games of the 2010-11 season.

Fit again for the start of the 2011-12 campaign, Woodford again began making regular appearances and eventually rose to the position of team captain – but his tenure with the Hawks continued to be blighted by injury problems.

That was the case in 2014-15 when he started the campaign as first choice, but after he lost his place through injury he found it impossible to break back into the side.

He made 13 starts and at the end of that season felt he needed to be playing on a more regular basis.

‘I didn’t want to leave the Hawks in the first place and everyone knows how much I love playing for the club,’ said Woodford.

‘At that moment in time, though, I needed to get more playing minutes under my belt.

‘I had spent a lot of time that season sitting on the substitutes’ bench.

‘Lee Bradbury recognised that and suggested the move for my benefit.

‘I have nothing but respect for him as a person and a coach.

‘Returning to the Hawks feels very much like coming back home.

‘My time at Borough helped me tick the box of getting more minutes on the pitch.

‘I can only thank everyone at Borough for that but the chance to go back to Westleigh Park was too good to turn down.

‘It was a shame the way everything petered out at Borough towards the end of last season.

‘The problems they had have been well-documented.

‘Going back to the Hawks means dropping down a level but I don’t mind that.

‘I played in the Ryman League before when I was on loan at Bognor.

‘It is a good standard but, hopefully, with the squad being put together at Westleigh Park we can soon get back into National League South.’