Three seasons, three league titles, three promotions. Surely that was an unprecedented record?!? Either way, we did not work hard to reach the Sky Bet League One to just sit on our laurels. We were fully aware of the challenges we would face in England's third tier, and we were hungry to achieve similar success to recent seasons.
Future Club Hero Andrea Punzi (DC) Signed On A Free Transfer
A few faces left the club throughout the season, most notably Liam Agnew (MC) for a record sale fee of £80K, while Matthew Briggs (DL) also departed for a fee of £10K. Influential wingers Christian Jolley and Abdulai Bell-Baggie made way during the season for higher quality players who arrived throughout the year.
Harrison Dunk (AML/R) arrived for a club record transfer fee of £55K, and was joined by fellow winger Ryan Donaldson (AML) to improve the creativity of the squad in the attacking third. Joe Skarz (DL), Josh Lelan (DR) and Cameron McGeehan (DM) were all brought in to strengthen our ball winning capabilities, but it was Andrea Punzi (DC) who would make the biggest impact of the new signings. The Italian defender would go on to achieve incredible things with the football club, but we'll get to that at some point in this story. Other signings included Theo Wharton (MC), Tyler Walker (ST), Luke Joyce (DM), Lloyd James (MC), Gwion Edwards (AMR) for a fee of £17.5K, and Brooks Lennon (AMR) on loan, two days after Gwion Edwards joined the club and subsequently broke his leg.
The squad was in decent shape, certainly better than in previous seasons. The arrival of Andrea Punzi brought an end to the central defender partnership of Lionel Stone and Ramón Marimón (club captain). Marimón had to make do with a place on the bench, as Punzi made the position his own with some absolutely outstanding performances. The new-look midfield of Cameron McGeehan, Theo Wharton and Bilal Kamal was okay, but not overly amazing for the standard of the division, while the attacking players offered a decent amount of creativity.
Sky Bet League One
Whitehawk Suffered Just Four Defeats In Their League Campaign
The step up from League Two was a relatively small one, with just a few of the League One clubs possessing the finances, and indeed the player quality, to truly stand out from the rest. Yet again, it was our ability to adapt to new footballing standards so quickly which aided our league form, as we put together a thirteen game unbeaten run to start the season. Overall, our impressive league form ended with a record of 23-19-4 to boast.
Whitehawk Topped The League Table By Just A Single Point
Surprise, surprise, another league campaign brought yet another league title. Once again, it was our defensive record which set us apart from the rest. The arrival of Andrea Punzi added some invaluable quality, both technically and mentally, and had pushed us to a new level.
In terms of promotions and relegations, Rotherham United and Coventry City would be joining us in the following Sky Bet Championship season, with the latter progressing through playoff success. Bradford City, Blackpool, Charlton Athletic and Barnet were all condemned to play in Sky Bet League Two the following season.
Whitehawk Exceeded All Expectations By Appearing In The Semi Finals
Our FA Cup campaign with victories over much lesser opposition in the form of Chester and Flyde. We were fully expected to progress past both sets of opponents, and in to the third round. We avoided the big teams once more, as we faced Aldershot Town, and we were once again successful, courtesy of a Tyler Walker brace.
Next up was Premier League opposition in the form of Swansea City. We battled hard for a 1-1 draw at home, to earn a replay at the Liberty Stadium. It was there we stunned the Swans, as an Andrea Punzi goal early in the second half set the tone. Tyler Walker doubled our lead, before Jordi Amat gave Swansea a lifeline with fifteen minutes remaining. However, Walker was on hand to secure passage to the next round, completing another brace in the competition. Up next was more superior opposition in the form of Burnley, but we once again held out for a replay, and eventually won on penalties, putting us through to the quarter finals of the competition.
In truth, we couldn't have asked for a bigger fixture than Manchester United at Old Trafford. José Mourinho's side had become almost as dominant a force domestically as Sir Alex Ferguson's. However, we proved to be difficult to break down, and it took a Domenico Berardi penalty to give the hosts the lead. We were well organised and resilient in defence, as we frustrated The Red Devils for the remainder of the game. With no more than a few minutes remaining, Danny Mills became the hero of the day, as he escaped his marker in the area to header home a surprise equaliser. Stunned in to silence, the Old Trafford crowd could not believe their eyes as we brought the game to penalties, before winning the shootout. Wembley awaited!
It was another football giant who awaited us in the form of Chelsea, and they were absolutely rampant. Wembley certainly suited them better, as they found the back of the net four times to knock us out of the competition. While the run ended with a bleak-looking defeat, FA Cup victory over José Mourinho's Manchester United in the quarter finals was an unforgettable moment, and another magical moment in the competition's history.
Whitehawk Struggled In The EFL Cup Once Again
Another appearance in the EFL Cup resulted in early elimination. Brentford proved to have too much for us on the day, and we were knocked out without so much as a whimper.
Whitehawk Ran Rampant As They Secured The EFL Trophy Title
A group containing AFC Wimbledon, Crawley Town and Arsenal Under 23s promised to offer many challenging, but equally exciting, encounters. While we ground out a 1-0 victory over Wimbledon in our opening game, excitement was soon to follow as we defeated Crawley Town on penalties, and won 5-3 against Arsenal to secure passage to the next round.
In three knockout rounds, we contested three penalty shootouts, and were victorious on each occasion. Colchester United, Crawley Town (again) and Chelsea Under 23s were the teams we defeated in the three penalty lotteries, setting up a semi final encounter against Coventry City. Tyler Walker scored twice as we progressed to the final after a 4-1 win, and a fantastic team performance resulted in a 3-0 win over Stoke Under 23s for us to claim the EFL Trophy once again, and hopefully for the last time!
Whitehawk Football Club
Defensive Solidity Proved Crucial For Whitehawk Throughout The Season
It was no surprise that Andrea Punzi
was our standout player of the season. The Italian central defender made a tremendous impact since joining, becoming the leading defender in the league. Josh Lelan, Cameron McGeehan, Theo Wharton and Harrison Dunk all put down very solid campaigns, while Danny Mills' goalscoring record showed him to be unphased by the step up the divisions.
England Were Crowned Champions Of Europe For The Very First Time
It was a moment to cherish for every English football fan, as Claudio Ranieri's England side triumphed over Belgium in the final of the UEFA European Championship 2020. Harry Kane and Saido Berahino were the stars of the European champions, scoring six apiece in a competition, which included sensational victories over Spain and Germany in the quarter finals and semi finals respectively. Belgium awaited the English in the final, and it took an extra time goal from Saido Berahino to separate the sides.
FC Barcelona had their hands on the UEFA Champions League once more, defeating Real Madrid by two goals in the final. Lionel Messi claimed his fifth consecutive Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards, with Barcelona team mate Neymar included in the FIFA World Team of the Year. Sergio Ramos, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo represented Real Madrid, while Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala of Juventus were included in the team. Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng of FC Bayern Munich were the representatives of the Bundesliga, while Manchester United's Daley Blind and Juan Mata were also included.
Ryan Ferguson's Message
"We must, firstly, thank the incredible fans of Whitehawk Football Club for their unwavering, and consistently growing, support throughout the years. We have faced many difficult challenges on the pitch, and their support has aided us in achieving some phenomenal accomplishments. With their backing, we have felt ten feet tall, and often unstoppable at times.
It has been another season to relish for all of us, as we have achieved yet another league title and promotion, as well as bringing home yet another EFL Trophy. Along with that, we cannot forget how fantastic our run in the 'Cup Of Dreams', the FA Cup, was. We turned up against some of the biggest football clubs in England, and we certainly brought fire to Old Trafford in what was possibly the greatest victory in this club's growing history.
We face even greater challenges next season as we compete in the Sky Bet Championship for the very first time. We will be competing against some truly incredible clubs with many international players in their ranks. We will be travelling to stadia of incredible size and stature, including a 48,000 capacity Stadium of Light.
We will celebrate our success of this season together now, but soon we will begin our preparations for the upcoming season. We have achieved so much together in recent years, but we are not ready to settle with what we have just yet. The only way we know how to play football is to win, and we hope to win many more trophies in the future. Whitehawk fans, thank you for being as incredible as you all are!"
, thanks for your comment, and your unwavering support!