THE HAWKS had to endure a tense afternoon before they were crowned Ryman League premier division champions with a 0-0 draw at Kingstonian.
Deep into stoppage-time at the end of the game news came through that title rivals Bognor had only managed to draw at home against Metropolitan Police.
This meant the Hawks couldn’t be caught and celebrations began.
Up until then, however, the Hawks had lived in fear of a Bognor winner which would have consigned them to the play-offs instead of automatic promotion.
For Lee Bradbury the afternoon proved to be very draining and he looked exhausted at the final whistle.
‘All the time we were drawing we knew there was a danger that Bognor could snatch it,’ said Bradbury.
‘It was an extremely nervy situation and not nice for us.
‘When we heard that Bognor had gone ahead it was a huge kick in the teeth and the relief when Met Police equalised was gratefully received.
‘The first 45 minutes were the worst because we never played anywhere near our best.
‘The players were nervous which was understandable with so much riding on the game
‘We lacked composure and fluency particularly going forward.
‘Kingstonian, however, were able to play with a freedom because they were already safe.
‘In contrast our players were scared of making mistakes and didn’t show their usual bravery on the ball.’
Only in the final 20 minutes did the Hawks increase their urgency.
Jason Prior headed wide at the far post and Kingstonian scrambled a couple of efforts away.
The best attempt came from Theo Lewis who sent a spectacular overhead kick onto the top of the crossbar.
‘Going straight back up has been our focus since day one of pre-season,’ said Bradbury.
‘It was never going to be easy but the fact we have done it is a credit to everyone at the football club.
‘The spirit in the camp has been second to none with everybody getting behind each other.
‘That is what it takes to win a league.’
Meanwhile, a 70th-minute Met Police equaliser scuppered Bognor’s title hopes at Nyewood Lane.
The Rocks looked on course to snatch the title from the Hawks’ grasp when Jimmy Muitt gave them a 58th-minute lead.
Muitt received the ball from Doug Tuck and smashed it high into the top corner of the net.
It was back to square one, however, when Will Salmon’s shot squirmed under Rocks goalkeeper Dan Lincoln.
The Rocks host Wingate & Finchley in the play-off semi-finals at Nyewood Lane on Thursday night (7.45pm).
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Woodford, Harris, Molyneaux, Williams, Stock (Carter 38), Lewis, Fogden (Barker 59), Rutherford (Hayter 76), Prior. Att: 1,205