Gale: Hawks title win eclipsed Liverpool FA Cup trip

Shaun Gale, right, and Lee Bradbury
Shaun Gale, right, and Lee Bradbury
Hawks celebrate with the fans at Westleigh Park. Picture: Neil Marshall

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SHAUN GALE rates the National League South title win as even better than the Hawks’ history making trip to Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Gale was manager in 2008 when he led the Hawks out at Anfield in their dream fourth round tie.

They had already knocked out league sides Notts County and Swansea City in the earlier rounds of a fantastic cup run.

On a remarkable day they took the lead twice.

Though eventually losing 5-2, Gale and his players covered themselves in glory with the way they played.

The Kop even gave them a standing ovation at the end in recognition of their efforts.

It was until last week, undoubtedly, the greatest day in the club’s history.

The events of that day still feature large in Gale’s memory.

But Gale, now assistant-manager to Lee Bradbury, reckons the exciting final-day promotion into the National League gave him an even bigger thrill.

He said: ‘It was an unbelievable day when we won the league.

‘It is not taking anything away from our cup success but winning a league is over a whole season.

‘Everything about the day was fantastic; the big crowd and the way we went about it.

‘We were put through the wringer emotionally when Concord hit back to level the scores. At that stage it looked as though we might let it slip through our fingers.

‘However, this is the most complete group of players I have ever worked with.

‘They kept the belief and that allowed them to go on and score the winning goal.

‘It was the culmination of a lot of hard work put in by everyone at the club.’

Now the celebrations have died down Gale accepts the club face their biggest challenge yet at the higher level.

The National League is pretty much a full-time league and the Hawks will be competing against the likes of Wrexham, Leyton Orient, Chesterfield, Hartlepool United, Aldershot and Barrow.

Gale admits the option of the Hawks going full-time isn’t viable at the present time with so many players in the squad working.

He said: ‘If we were to go full-time we would have to rip the heart out of the team. It isn’t something we are prepared to do. A number of our players have good jobs which wouldn’t allow them to go fully professional.

‘It would also have financial implications.

‘This group of players have got us where we are and deserve to have a chance at the higher level.

‘They have achieved back-to-back promotions which not many teams have done.

‘A lot of our opponents are full-time but we won’t be fazed by that.’