Hawks forward Billie Clark, 17, has signed professional terms with Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion. Billie has been on trial with the Seagulls, impressing in the U18 and U23 sides, and has now earned himself a full-time contract.
First team manager Ross Standen said: “We are absolutely delighted for Billie. Since the new management team came in, he has trained with the first team every week and you could see him getting stronger and more confident. This resulted in him getting more game time and doing very well in a short period. He then had pro clubs looking at him after he was selected for the England Colleges and Schools squads. All that hard work and dedication has now paid off. Billie is a confident lad, but very humble with a great work ethic. We wish him well for his future which will hopefully be a successful career in the pro game. We are very proud of him and his move to the Albion.”
Billie made eleven Hawks first team appearances this season, including two starts, and scored twice in a week against Herne Bay and Sevenoaks Town.
Last year Billie was joint leading scorer in the Isthmian Youth League South before the season was curtailed. This year he started off as our youth team captain and has also been selected for both the England colleges and schools squads.
Hawks Chairman Andy Schofield added: “Everyone at the club is delighted for Billie. This is a dream come true for him and his family, who always believed he had the talent to make it into full-time football. It is brilliant that the Hawks have played a part in his development and shows that if you have the skill and determination to succeed, then playing Isthmian League football for us is good preparation for taking the next step.”
The only other player to leave the Hawks directly for a Premier League or Division 1 side was right back Derek Tharme, who joined Spurs as a 16-year old in 1956 and went on to be part of the first team squad that won the league and cup double in 1961. Current assistant manager Stuart Tuck was the last player to join the Albion directly from the Hawks in 1991. He went on to make over 100 first team appearances and then returned to play for the Hawks 2010-2012.