STAGS SIGN OLI HAWKINS FROM IPSWICH
Stags sign Ipswich striker
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 21 June 2021
Mansfield Town is delighted to announce the signing of 6’ 6” striker Oli Hawkins from Ipswich Town for an undisclosed fee (see *).
The 29-year-old has penned a two-year contract at One Call Stadium.
Hawkins began his career in non-league, flourishing in front of goal with North Greenford United, Hillingdon Borough, Northwood, Hemel Hempstead Town and Dagenham & Redbridge.
In the summer of 2017, Portsmouth secured his services, where he went on to score eight goals in 26 starts and nine substitute appearances as Pompey finished eighth in League One.
The following season, Hawkins netted 10 goals in 36 starts and 12 substitute outings, whilst also scoring the clinching penalty in an EFL Trophy Final victory against Sunderland at Wembley.
The Londoner was then snapped up by Ipswich Town in August of last year.
Stags’ boss Nigel Clough said: “Oli will add a real presence in both penalty areas, something which we missed last season, both defensively and offensively.
“He’s an unselfish player and his assists’ ratio is very good, but his presence in both penalty areas is the main reason why we’re signing him.
“He’s been playing in teams who have competed towards the top end of League One in the last few seasons and we’re excited to add him to our existing line-up of strikers.”
(*) Nigel Clough later said "You'll definitely have to be clever with free transfers. We've not paid a fee this year and I don't think we will be," he told Nottinghamshire Live.
nottinghampost.com, Mon 28 June 2021
read more at https://www.nottinghampost.com/sport/football/transfer-news/nigel-clough-makes-nottingham-forest-5581889
Giant new Mansfield Town striker Oli Hawkins promises to cause havoc in the box
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 21st June 2021
Giant new Mansfield Town striker Oli Hawkins has promised to cause havoc in opposition boxes and says he has dropped down to League Two Mansfield Town as he believes they can be promoted.
The 6ft 6ins frontman, who signed yesterday from League One Ipswich Town, described himself as an old-fashioned type of centre forward but not a 'head on a stick'.
“I am really excited. I am looking forward to getting back to playing football at a team and club that are ambitious to get out of League Two and up into League One. I just want to enjoy it again,” he said.
“I am still an old-fashioned sort of centre forward target man. I like the balls in the box and the ball getting forward and just cause a bit of havoc. The way the manager has come across and explained things, it looks like that chance is going to be there for me.
“There are a lot of teams out there playing modern-day football and playing pass out from the back, but this could be a real chance to get the best out of me.
“I am a big lad and my main criteria is a target man, good in the air, but I like to still see myself as an all-round striker and get the ball down, make runs and get in the box.
“Defensively, I make headers and clearances. I like to class myself as a team player in both boxes and just causing havoc for defences and wearing them down for other players to score goals and get on the end of things. That's what I look to bring and hope that I can.”
On his size, he said: “It's an advantage for myself and the team when I am playing.
“There are parts of a game where the quick and agile players might be able to get past me or round me easier.
“But as long as I can play to my strengths and my game it's a huge advantage and if the team are playing the right way and effective I will come on really well.”
He added: “I want to get to a target of double figures in goals and hopefully assist the striker next to me or the winger.
“I have played in formations where I am the only striker and had to try to do it all myself and I have played up front with another striker and players around me who like to score goals and tried to assist them. I am a team player. I want to score goals but I want to assist others.
“I am not just a 'head on a stick' sort of player. I actually prefer playing football and getting it to my feet. I wouldn't want a team to count me out on that.
“If it's a game we need to pass the ball I always look to go to feet. But if it's a game where the ball needs to be kicked up there I am there for that as well.
“I want to be classed as an all-round striker, but the main focus is a target man who is good with his feet and head.
“I won't pretend that I am someone who scores from outside the box with screamers here and there, I am an in the box striker - headers and front post finishes.”
Hawkins can also play centre half.
“That is part of my armoury,” he said. “It's not what I have come here to play, but if there was an emergency and I was needed I have played there before and have a really good record there.”
Hawkins still had a year to go at Ipswich in League One but new boss Paul Cook, who came in while Hawkins was out with a knee injury, didn't fancy him.
“I had a two-year deal at Ipswich, but a new manager has come in and just said he is looking elsewhere and wanted to rebuild a new team,” he explained.
“So it was a decision of staying there and not really playing as much or look elsewhere, go out, enjoy it again and get game time.
“I just realised that at the age I am I just want to get out there and play football, prove to people that I'm a good player and especially go to a team that are looking to get promoted.
“I weighed my options up here and looked at the manager and the team itself and thought where I could get the best out of myself with formations and style of play an the club's ambitions. I just thought it sounds like a good move and a good plan and hopefully it's successful.”
He added: “I have heard of Nigel Clough and had friends and ex-players who have played for him and told me his style and the way he is that suits me.”
Hawkins has wreaked havoc at almost every level of football but his ambition remains to play as high as possible.
“I am from the non-league and have played mostly every league right up to League One and just really battled my way up,” he said.
“I got my chance at Dagenham & Redbridge at League Two level where I scored my first league goal here at Mansfield ironically.
“Then they got relegated and I was back in the Conference.
“I worked hard and got my break to Portsmouth where I had three seasons which led me to Ipswich, again looking to go to a promotion-winning team.
“Unfortunately that hasn't gone the way I have gone and now I am looking to come here and have success.”
On his time with Pompey, he said: “It was a brilliant time in my career on the south coast.
“They are a huge club with a nice big fan base. Unfortunately we didn't get promoted though came close a few times.
“My aim is to play in the Championship and get as high as I can.
“My main reason for choosing Mansfield is that it's a team that wants to get back up there and I feel like they have huge potential to get promoted to League One and then look to go again in League One.”
David Sharpe @DavidSharpe91
Great to get @oliverhawkins08 completed today!! One that we have been chasing for a while now. Still got a bit of business to do but so far it’s been a very good summer!
STORY FROM 12 MONTHS AGO:
Marmite player who is happy to play striker or centre-back... Why Ipswich Town fans need to show new signing Hawkins some love
East Anglian Daily Times, 17 August 17 2020, by Stuart Watson,
Ipswich Town are set to announce the signing of versatile striker Oli Hawkins. STUART WATSON takes a look at what the Blues are getting in the 28-year-old who was recently released by League One rivals Portsmouth.
Born and raised in West London, he climbed the non-league pyramid over a seven year period by scoring goals at North Greenford United, Hillingdon Borough, Northwood and Hemel Hempstead Town.
That earnt him a January move to struggling League Two club Dagenham & Redbridge under the management of John Still and, although he was unable to prevent them dropping out of the Football League that season, he scored 18 times for them in the National League the following campaign.
Portsmouth came calling in the summer of 2017, finally landing their man on August transfer deadline day 2017 for an undisclosed fee having already had several bids rejected.
In his debut season at Fratton Park, he bagged eight goals in 26 starts and nine substitute appearances as Kenny Jackett’s men finished eighth in League One. His proved a fine foil for the 24-goal Brett Pitman.
His second season with Pompey was his best. He scored 10 times in 36 starts and 12 sub outings, allowing widemen Ronan Curtis and Jamal Lowe to thrive, as the South coast club finished fourth. He netted the clinching penalty in an EFL Trophy Final victory against Sunderland at Wembley too.
A back problem disrupted his pre-season last summer though, then he suffered a foot injury in an EFL Cup defeat to Southampton in September which sidelined him for a month.
With new front men John Marquis and Ellis Harrison preferred options up top and Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett forming a good central defensive partnership, Hawkins ended up making just nine starts and four sub appearances in 2019/20. He stepped off the bench deep into extra-time of Portsmouth’s play-off semi-final second leg against Oxford in July and promptly converted his spot-kick in a shootout loss.
He was released three days later.
“Pompey fans either liked me or hated me, but I will always look back on the positives and that Wembley moment,” he told the Portsmouth News, reflecting on his three years at the club.
“I suppose supporters want skilful players who score bags of goals and do great celebrations.
“They don’t want a 6ft 6in striker that may miss a couple of chances and get taken off at half-time or come on for five minutes here or there.
“Even when I did do well, it still wasn’t good enough for some people because I wasn’t scoring goals.
“Those who may not know a lot about football will think ‘he hasn’t done anything’. But people who understand football realise that actually I was helping others to score.
“I would say 40 per cent respected me and knew what I was capable of. The other 60 per cent saw me as nothing exciting or not good enough. That is what I feel.
“It’s hard to take, but people around football will know that my contribution was more than it wasn’t.
“I can’t hear criticism when playing, but even though I got a lot of positive stuff online or when out and about, for some reason one negative replaced all the positives.
“You see comments and it’s hard to take and not nice.
“I wouldn’t want to talk too much about social media, for me it never really bothered me. For some strange reason, though, someone would come up to me - like a friend or family member - and show me these messages.
“Although no fan ever said anything bad to my face.
“A lot of Pompey supporters didn’t think I was good enough and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just the way it has gone for me.”
He added: “It’s not all about a striker scoring 20-30 goals and if you don’t do that then it’s ‘you’re not good enough for my team’.
“When you see negative comments and I’m not getting picked by the manager, sometimes it puts a downer on yourself. You think you’re not good enough.
“I have always got to remind myself that I was in a team which was at the top of the league (in 2018/19) and we were flying.’
In the second half of his three years at Portsmouth, Hawkins was often utilised as a centre-back.
He ended up playing 16 times there, suffering just three defeats and - by all accounts - largely impressing.
His final outing in that role was against Peterborough last December and he has said he is open to featuring there again.
“I liked being put into defence,” he told the Portsmouth News. “The last two years as a Pompey player I wished I’d played in defence more.
“If you look at the stats, I lost three games in 16 as a central defender - and one of those was against Southampton in the FA Cup.
“I did make a couple of mistakes against Peterborough - and no fan wants to see their centre-forward play centre-half - but I feel I could have had a good season in that position and done well.
“There was less pressure playing at centre-half, I could enjoy my time there more than as a striker.
“At centre-forward there was always criticism from fans. I would be taken off after 50 minutes, I’d be on the bench or out of the squad at times, but I enjoyed it in defence. The focus wasn’t on me that much.
“Then I wasn’t allowed to play there any longer because I made a couple of mistakes against Peterborough.
“I told the manager I wanted to carry on at centre-half. Yes, I made a couple of mistakes, but it’s the only way I’m going to learn. I wouldn’t want to throw in the towel, I wanted to carry on and go again.
“I missed the next game, at Accrington, through the birth of my son, Jett, and never played at centre-half again.
“Basically, from having the conversation saying I wanted to be centre-half, and to let me to try to do this, I was out of the team and three weeks later back as centre-forward on the bench.”
He added: “I’d like to play centre-half again in the future, 100 per cent.
“I feel I have another few years as a striker before I look there. If a team was interested, I would try it as long as I would be able not worry about being taken off.
“Just give me a right go at it, even if I do make a couple of mistakes early doors.”
After being released by Portsmouth, just three days after their play-off loss to Oxford, Hawkins said: “Honestly, I thought I may have got offered something else.
“I feel I deserved at least to have one more year, but it’s football. Obviously with what has happened with coronavirus, I can see why clubs might want to get rid of people and start afresh.
“I didn’t expect it, but I have to accept it.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about moving on anyway to another club or a new start.
“However, I still wanted that chance to maybe have another year at Pompey and give it another go knowing that I still might need to move on.
“It was a three-minute call from the manager, thanking me for being there and how he will always have a good reference for me.
“I actually felt I deserved a face-to-face meeting after three years, but with football you can’t expect a lot of things to happen. You have to get on with it sometimes.”
He added: “I back myself and think I’m good enough to find a team in the top 10 for League One.
“With the current situation financially, perhaps a Championship team might want to gamble on a big striker. I don’t know. I’m waiting on my future.
“I don’t want to drop down to League Two. However, you must look at whatever options are around and assess what’s best financially and the location.
“I still feel I have a few years at League One level, maybe in a team which plays more to my strengths.”
Forget about his goal record. Town have signed Hawkins as a physical pivot point to their attack - an option they badly lacked last season in a bruising division.
Whether he be an impact sub on days when a Plan B is needed, a foil for James Norwood or Kayden Jackson in a front two, or leads the line alone ahead of creative midfield talent such as Alan Judge, Teddy Bishop, Jack Lankester and co, Hawkins’ flick-ons and hold-up play will be another weapon in the armoury.
The fact he can also play centre-back is a bonus. Under the financial pressures of Covid-19 and the salary cap, the Blues have effectively got themselves two players in one.
He’s at a prime age, knows this level and has a point to prove. Reserve judgement and show him some love Town fans - this will hopefully prove to be a shrewd addition.
Latest | June 2021