Isthmian League

An Interview with Harry Shooman

Back for a second helping of what Whitehawk has to offer, it’s been a whirlwind past few weeks for Harry Shooman after his father, Matt, received a major health scare. But through perseverance, mentality and spirit ‘Shooey’ overcame his family dramas and shortage of sleep to not only play on the Saturday that proceeded the panic, but to score the crucial goal as the game remained deadlocked with East Grinstead Town. And so, without further ado, here’s Harry’s story:

So Shooey, the classic question to get things rolling: how have you found things back at Whitehawk?

It’s been really good to be fair! It’s been a nice transition from my previous club Saltdean [United] with a lot of the players coming over from there, so I knew a lot of the boys anyway. All the lads really good, it’s a really good dressing room – just really enjoying it!

What do you think convinced you into returning to The Enclosed Ground?

I think it was the personnel there that I already knew. For me personally, and a lot of the lads will probably agree with this, I probably take things the least seriously out of anyone else. I just like to play football, and I love the camaraderie around the dressing room. I knew some of the boys before which makes it easier, and I knew a lot of them from Saltdean – where we had a really good season with before, so it just swayed my decision thinking the dressing room is going to be really good, and I’m just going to fit in quite nicely.

To say that week was a long one would be an understatement. What emotions were you feeling just after you headed the Hawks into the lead in front of a packed Din?

It’s always nice to score, but especially Saturday. It was just such a relentless week in terms of everything. I probably had maybe 15 hours sleep the whole week, it was crazy. There was lots of hospital visits; the night of the incident I didn’t sleep at all – it was all just an absolute blur to be honest, and just a bit of a freak accident that happens.

These things do happen, but thankfully I was in a knowledgable position to deal with it effectively, which had an impact on my whole week then. Obviously, football was put to the bottom of the priority list. I live in a house of six (two sisters and my brother and of course my mum), so I was just making sure that they were alright, be where they had to be and if they needed anything etc.

And then Saturday came around, and dad was well enough to be discharged – we weren’t sure if he was going to be discharged on Saturday, or whether they were going to leave it to the Monday. He’ll tell you yourself he was probably gutted he wasn’t discharged in the morning because I know he really wanted to go to the game.

I went to see him on the Thursday and Friday night and he just wanted to go to the game, that was his sort of end goal: to be out and about with everyone and watch some football. So, for him to follow it on Twitter, and for myself to get a goal it just meant the world…not just to him but to my family as well. That goal would have probably made dad get out of his seat – really slowly! – and think: yeah, I’m really buzzing with that!

And what to you do outside of the Hawks?

So yeah, I own Soccer Fix – it’s based here in Brighton and most recently as of the new year in North Wales too. Here at home [Brighton] we have four schools for football clubs: Woodingdean Primary School; Rudyard Kipling; St Margarets Primary School; and we’ve got a new school, St Martins, that is just off Lewes Road in Brighton.

We work every day in these schools, providing football clubs and CPD’s (Continuing Professional Development) for teachers and all that sort of stuff. Last week, when the kids were off school, we do our big half-term camps. We run those out of Stanley Deason – literally a stone’s throw away from the club – where kids from all the schools can come over, they have a full day of football with us; we do entertainment, games, challenges, tournaments, all of the above!

And that model was replicated in North Wales as well. We do lots of guest sessions up there. We are the biggest football provider across the whole of the north (Welsh) coast already. Over the past 10 months we have seen roughly 5000 kids, which is huge compared to other companies, and that’s just doing football camps.

So that’s a big turnout; we usually get between 150 and 200 kids per day at our football camps in North Wales, and we’re linked with a club similar to Whitehawk which is called Bangor 1876 – a new reformed, fan-owned football club. And some of the players come over and do guest sessions and give out trophies and the kids go mental for it, as if they saw Lewis Dunk at one of our sessions here! So, that’s really good. Like I said that’s obviously replicated here in Brighton so we’re really happy with that!

Obviously this club plays an important role in your life. So tell us, what does Whitehawk mean to you?

It’s a great, local non-league club with brilliant fans. So, with that comes a massive community section, and I’m really for that. We see a lot of kids that come to the games – I always try and go out of my way to say hello to them: high fives, just a little picture or chat or whatever they want. I’m huge on that, so the club does the right things: it’s a huge advocate for diversity, bringing new fans into the club, showcasing good things that they do – which is really nice, and for me that’s more than football. That goes a lot further for me – it’s not just about winning games, of course it is and that’s what keeps fans through the door.

But for me it’s about: they’ll turn up week in, week out. It’s a huge thing to make you feel comfortable but also you want to play for those sorts of teams, and you want to turn up every Saturday at home and see all those fans behind the goal, score and they go mental. And we love it. That’s not just me, that’s the whole team that’ll think that. So yeah, for me I’m a big, big advocate for the stuff that they do, and how well regarded they are in the right things that they try to do – I’m a big fan of that.

That’s how you handle an interview, folks. It’s laudable stuff, and for the family man with ambitions somehow wider than his smile, it’s a future that looks very bright indeed. Watch him on the left-side of the pitch – skittling up and down the scales – and you’re sure to share a grin with him.

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