As reality of Hawks nightmare hits home the club must decide
When the final whistle blew at Westleigh Park on Saturday a sense of disbelief descended on the ground.
The unthinkable had happened and the Hawks, after 12 years in National League South, had been relegated.
A disappointing final-day 1-1 draw at the hands of Weston-super-Mare proved nowhere near enough – the story of their season!
The fans trooped out of the ground in almost total silence and without protest – totally numbed by the whole affair.
It was impossible for many to comprehend just how things had come to this.
After all, at the start of the season Lee Bradbury’s side were touted as genuine title contenders.
There was great optimism that this could be the year that the Hawks made the step up to the National League.
Instead, it turned into a disaster of nightmare proportions.
As a result, next season the Hawks will be playing their football in either the Southern League or Ryman League – with the club still awaiting news of where exactly they will end up.
Once the dust settles, the club’s board of directors will be faced with making some big decisions about the future of their football club.
The fate of manager Bradbury and his assistant Shaun Gale will be at the top of that list.
Proud chairman Derek Pope kept faith with the management team throughout the season, maintaining the belief they were the best fit for taking the club forward.
But little has come out of the club in the past 72 hours about the future of the manager – apart from a short statement from club secretary Trevor Brock.
He said: ‘The board of directors will make a statement after all the implications of relegation have been fully thought through.
‘It is not something that can be rushed.
‘There are a lot of things that need to be discussed.
‘Fans can be assured that we will do what is right for this football club.’
With that in mind, Pope and his board have to decide whether Bradbury is the man to get them back up to the National League South at the first attempt.
In yesterday’s News, the chairman was furious after the Weston-super-Mare stalemate – but more so with the players than the manager.
He accused some of not caring enough about the club and felt they were just there to pick up their wages – and substantial pay packets at that for some!
In his eyes, it was a number of the players who had let the manager and the club down.
The Hawks will now more than likely have to cut their budget as they prepare for life in a lower level next season.
Decisions will have to be made about the players they want to keep and those no longer required.
The situation is complicated by the fact that some of the players are still contracted to the club next season.
Marvin Morgan and Adrian Clifton, who both made a minimal impact this season after being touted as major signings, still have another year on their hefty contracts.
There is also the question whether some of the players want to drop down a level?
If that is the case, the Hawks may find it difficult to hang on to the likes of Dan Strugnell, Ben Swallow, Andy Robinson and George Barker.
Bradbury indicated after Saturday’s disappointment that any player who didn’t want to stay at the club should knock his door on the Monday and let him know.
Whatever happens, it promises to be a busy summer for the Hawks as they plot their way back to National League South football.