Football fans across the area encouraged to head along to Westleigh Park and support ‘Hawks Non-League Day’ for Concord Rangers league meeting
Hawks are hoping to attract a bumper crowd for their National League South home meeting with Concord Rangers on Saturday.
The Westleigh Park outfit are offering all adults entry for £6 while under-16s can attend free of charge for what the club are billing as ‘Hawks Non-League Day’. With Pompey without a fixture this weekend because of international call-ups and Hawks the highest level team across the area playing at home, the target is to attract a crowd in excess of 2,000 for the Concord clash.
In manager Paul Doswell‘ s first season at the club in 2019-20, Hawks had the third highest average attendance in the division (1,398), with only Dulwich Hamlet (2,200) and Maidstone United (1,776). So far this term, there have been a drop off in numbers attending matches at Westleigh Park, with 867 and 922 through the gates for National League South meetings with Welling United and Oxford City respectively.
But Doswell is hoping the ‘Hawks Non-League Day’ initiative for the weekend meeting with Concord can provide the kick-start required to welcoming high numbers back to Westleigh Park as the season progresses. The Hawks boss says: ‘It’s a huge push to get 2,000. We were up to nearly 1,400 (average attendance) in my first season here and that was on the back of various offers, initiatives and all the rest of it.
‘Whilst we’ve had two FA Cup games (at Westleigh Park), we’ve had two home league games against Welling and Oxford City and the crowds have been hugely disappointing. ‘Four of our first six (league games) were away from home so there’s been no consistency to say, ‘I’ll go and watch Havant play today’. There tends to be low crowds in the FA Cup second and third qualifying rounds so that was no surprise.
‘It’s totally down to the fact because of the pandemic we’ve not been able to get in the schools and do all the good work we were doing. ‘When we finished that first season (2019-20) we had about 60 youth going to away games – it was unbelievable. We looked at that and we thought we were getting things right.’
Doswell revealed Hawks operated at a loss for home FA Cup second and third round qualifying meetings with Beaconsfield and Billericay at Westleigh Park such were the low attendance figures. But he believes getting people aware of the club again post-pandemic with this specially organised ‘Hawks Non-League Day’ could prove crucial.
Doswell added: ‘I think Concord have tweeted out how brilliant it is that their supporters can come in for six quid. ‘For the FA Cup, I’ll be honest, we’ve lost money in both games so far. It’s only the prize money which has kept it interesting at the minute.
‘From our point of view, we feel we’ve offered incredibly cheap season tickets, we’re now offering people the chance to come in for £6 – I can’t believe that anyone in the area within 10 miles won’t be aware that they can come and see us with their children for six quid.’
Written by: Lewis Mason – Portsmouth Sport