This Thursday, The Hawks’ Under 18 side will take to the field in their first ever cup final against Newhaven FC in the Sussex County FA Under 18 Cup Final at Lancing. Ahead of this, we’ve caught up with manager Jude Macdonald and 3 members of his team. In this article, we spoke to players Luke Emberson, Jordan Hawkins and Jordan Pryor.
Luke joined at the start of the 15/16 season and was made Captain at the beginning of this season. Goalkeeper Jordan joined the team right at its inception just under 4 years ago, and Jordan Pryor is relatively new to the side, having joined at the beginning of the 16/17 season. All 3 of them are 18 and coming to the end of their time in youth football. We asked them numerous questions and here is how it went –
Q – How did you end up joining the team?
Luke Emberson (LE) – I joined Whitehawk at the start of the 2015 season so this is my third season at the club. While I was playing a year up at Hangleton Rangers U16’s my manager, Mark Seltzer (former U18 Assistant Manager), told me about the trials for Whitehawk.
Jordan Hawkins (JH) – I was at a football day just playing multiple games and after the day had finished Mark Seltzer came up to me and asked if I’d be interested in having a trial for the Hawks. I couldn’t say no!
Jordan Pryor (JP) – A few of my friends were playing for Whitehawk last season and I’d heard a lot about the club before. So, I went to the trials at the beginning of pre-season at Stanley Deacon and managed to make it into the team.
Q – What were your first memories after joining?
LE – I remember being happy because I knew that we had a good team and that we could do well in the league and end up having a good season.
JH – I had just turned 15 when I played my first game which feels like a long time ago, but I’ll always remember our first ever 3 points in the league, it was a really tight 2-1 win at home!
JP – My first memories after joining was about 4/5 games into the season where I started for the first time in a competitive match. Also, Jude talking to me about changing my position from full back to winger, and my first game playing on the wing. I now much prefer playing on the wing and I feel as if I suit that position much more.
Q – To say you’ve done well this season is an understatement, what do you think the achievements can be put down to?
LE – Hard work and a quality squad. When we’ve been matched for quality this season our hard work has put us on top and on our day, this is one of the best squads I’ve played in.
JP – Honestly there’s many different reasons to our success so far this season, but the main couple of reasons has to be down to the management and attitude of the whole squad. All the squad get on so well and we all have such a laugh, including the management. We are serious when we have to be but have a laugh and a joke when it’s appropriate, and I think that’s why it works so well.
Q – As captain of a side which has had so much success this season, how much pride do you take in being the leader of the team?
LE – Of course I take pride in being the first Whitehawk captain to win the league and with two finals and a semi final it is exciting times. But captain or not I would be proud to be part of such a talented and hardworking bunch of lads.
Q – What is it like to play under Jude and his coaching team?
JH – It’s amazing, because we can have a laugh and a bit of a joke but also be deadly serious when it needs to be and it’s good having a manager like that where it’s not always so serious to the point where you can’t enjoy yourself.
JP – The management at Whitehawk is the best I’ve ever experienced. Jude and all the coaches know exactly what they’re talking about and make it very clear on how they want to us to play. They explain things really well and have one to ones with each player before every game. Although I’ve only been here a season I feel as if I’ve spent a few here already, and feel as if I’ve learnt so much more then I already knew.
Q – Obviously the season isn’t over and you could end up winning a quadruple, which may never be matched again, what is your personal best moment of the season?
LE – Winning the quadruple would top my career so far but winning the league as captain in my last year of Under 18’s football has been my best personal moment. Scoring two goals in a cup quarter final has also been a great personal moment.
JH – 2 moments stick out for me, beating Worthing 4-0 and 4-1 was really good especially because it’s Worthing! The other moment is even though I was very foolish to get sent off, the county cup semi-final (vs Pagham) when we played with 9 men and won on penalties. I was so proud of the team and went mad afterwards, I also cried after it too!
JP – I don’t like to say much until we’ve actually done it, but If we do manage to do the quadruple it would be unbelievable. I honestly believe we deserve it and have a good chance of doing it. My personal best moment of this season has to be the semi-final of the county cup. The commitment and drive the whole squad showed during that game was unforgettable. Going down to 9 men without a keeper and coming back 2 times (including in extra time) to then win it on penalties, will go down as one of the best moments of my life.
Q – Since this is your last season in U18 football, what are your plans after this season?
LE – I’ve talked to one or two clubs but I still have my options open. I really want to be playing first team football at a decent level.
JH – I’m currently playing for Peacehaven until the end of the season and seeing what happens next season. I’d like to play at the highest level I can at the best of my ability.
JP – Well I’ve currently been playing for Saltdean United as well this season. So my plans are to stay there next year and keep my options open.