16th July 2018
Brighton Seahawks are looking forward to their first season in the Men’s Premier Handball League and are planning to cement their place in the top flight.
Established in the wake of the London Olympics, Seahawks finally achieved promotion to the Premier Handball League after narrowly missing out on a number of occasions.
The south coast club face an away match against north-west giants Warrington Wolves on the opening weekend of league fixtures, on 8/9 September 2018. Line Player Sam Crocker says it was great to seal their spot in the top league after knocking on the door for several seasons. He said: “For the last four seasons we’ve been competing for promotion to the Premier Handball League, but we’ve always got to the play off final and lost or been knocked out by one of the northern teams.
“This year we’ve had the strongest squad we’ve ever had, and we went up to Derby and played against Loughborough University [in the play-off final]. We really believed we deserved to go up this time and really believed we could do it this time. And we managed to do it!”
Seahawks won promotion after beating Loughborough University 25-20. Crocker added: “There was a lot of relief! We’ve had some games in the last couple of seasons where we’re winning comfortably and then teams manage to work their way back in it, so I think we were relieved more than anything that we managed to hold on comfortably. We were in the driving seat towards the end of the second half so we just wanted to keep that momentum and get over the line.”
The team are losing Caleb Matthews – Player-of-the-Match in the Loughborough play-off and a GB Under-20 international - for a year when he plays at Danish side Aarhus Handbold. However, they welcome former player Elliot James back to Brighton after a year living in London. Other than that, the team is largely unchanged from previous seasons – although the club hope to welcome new players who are attracted to playing in the top tier of English handball.
Crocker said: “We’ve got a team of players who really want to commit to playing in the top league next year and are committed to working hard and doing as much as we can to stay there – so that’s the plan!”
“We’ve been playing for a few years now with a similar team, so it will be good for us to go and see if we can compete.”
Having won a seat at the top table, Seahawks are ambitious for a top-six finish next season and are looking to the example of other clubs which have been promoted in recent years.
“The coach really wants to push us and we’re upping our training to twice a week starting end of August, so that’ll definitely help in fitness, motivation levels and skill levels. We’re going to be fighting to stay up there.
“You see from the way the league’s gone. If you manage to stay up for one season, such as NEM Hawks and Nottingham, they’ve done really well in staying up, and they’ve built from that position, so if we can stay up and compete with those guys we’ll be doing really well.”