Rutherford backs Hawks to bounce back

Alfie Rutherford celebrates scoring for Bognor. Picture: Tim Hale
Alfie Rutherford celebrates scoring for Bognor. Picture: Tim Hale

Alfie Rutherford is convinced the Hawks can bounce back and reclaim their prized place in National League South at the first attempt.

The 17-year-old is among a clutch of new signings by Lee Bradbury following last season’s relegation.

The promising striker has crossed over from Bognor, where he netted 21 times last term.

The Hawks’ demotion means they will now be Ryman League premier division rivals of the Rocks, who have also lost Jason Prior to Westleigh Park.

Rutherford, from Baffins, is relishing the chance to aid Bradbury’s promotion drive.

And he believes the forthcoming campaign can be a successful one for the Hawks.

He said: ‘I like the idea of playing for a local club, so Havant really appealed to me.

‘People have told me there was interest from Salisbury and apparently Gosport wanted a chat but it was always going to be Westleigh Park.

‘I had the chance to stay at Bognor.

‘I’m not saying they aren’t a big club, while they probably have the best pitch in the league and the fans are brilliant.

‘But Havant want to go higher and will definitely be challenging for promotion.

‘We have got to come down, so now the aim is to get straight back up and to do that Lee Bradbury has brought in a lot of local players like Bradley Tarbuck, Jason Prior and Ryan Woodford.

‘Me and Jason got 66 goals between us last season, so hopefully we can do it again.

‘Funnily enough, Lee Bradbury was my Academy manager at Pompey for half-a-year and knew me then as a centre-back and a right-back!

‘Now I am a striker at his club and hopefully I can score the goals.’

The former Pompey youth team player thrived in his maiden season at Nyewood Lane.

Recruited by Jamie Howell from Moneyfields, he netted 21 times in 59 appearances – of which 29 outings came from the bench.

That impressive form earned his summer move – and he is full of praise for Bognor’s role in his ongoing development.

He added: ‘Jamie Howell is a brilliant manager and Dabba (Darin Killpartrick) is probably one of the best coaches I have come across.

‘One of the weakest parts of my game is holding the ball up and they have been getting me to play up against them, hitting me off the ball and building my strength up.

‘It has definitely improved me, towards the end of the season I was holding the ball up a little bit better.

‘I owe them a lot for teaching me so much and thank them for that.’

– NEIL ALLEN