Former Sutton United defender Jamie Collins completes Hawks return 16 years after first moving to Westleigh Park
Jamie Collins has returned to the Hawks some 16 years after first signing for the club.
Boss Paul Doswell moved to bring the experienced defender back to Westleigh Park in a player-coach capacity.
The 36-year-old, who played under Doswell at Sutton leaves his coaching role with the Football League-bound U's to rejoin Hawks.
Collins, who made 169 appearances in his first stint at the club after signing from Watford in 2005, has not played competitively since November 2019 after calling time on his playing career because of work commitments.
But he remains eager to make up for a lost year on the field by featuring prominently in a push for the National League South title next term, while also working as part of Doswell's management team and coaching in the club's Havant & Waterlooville Pro:Direct Academy.
Collins said: 'It’s strange how football works, but it’s obviously good to be back.
‘I think the main thing, obviously, is to play but, speaking to Dos, I want to try to get involved in the coaching side of it as well and watch the teams we’re playing against, watch our games back, and see if I can put an input into it.
‘First and foremost it’s playing, then helping out with Dos and Bairdy where I can and I’ve also got a role doing some coaching with the academy.
‘It’s obviously something I want to get into in a few years time, the coaching side of it, so I couldn’t think of two people to work under, really.'
Collins has some incredible memories from his first spell with the club where he was also named captain.
He was part of the Hawks team who were beaten 4-2 by Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round in 2008.
And if Collins needs a reminder of that day, all he needs to do is head into Hawks' boardroom where a picture of him challenging Argentina international Javier Mascherano is plastered on the wall.
Collins had been among the goalscorers when Hawks had set up their memorable trip to Anfield by beating three divisions higher Swansea City in a third round replay.
He was at the centre of more FA Cup romance in 2016/17 when he helped Doswell’s Sutton reach the fifth round proper - scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot in a fourth round giant-killing of three divisions higher Leeds United.
There are familiar faces all around Westleigh Park for Collins, with Hawks assistant manager Ian Baird the man who handed him his senior debut for the club 16 years ago.
Collins also worked with Doswell during his time at Sutton and he revealed working closely with the pair was a big draw in him returning to Hawks.
He added: 'I played for Dos and Bairdy at Sutton for five years, I’ve known Bairdy now for 18 years, and Dos seven or eight years.
‘We had a chat, I was close to coming when they first left Sutton (in 2019 but I still had a contract at Sutton, so it didn’t materialise at that point.
‘As soon as I got the opportunity to come back and play, obviously I’d missed it, with those two being here it was a no-brainer really.
‘I had a great five years here when I first came out of professional football. It put me in good stead for the non-league career I’ve had, and it’ll be good to come back, finish on a high, and hopefully get the club promoted.
'We work well together, we had a good five years at Sutton, we got promoted out of the National League South and a great cup run.'