Giant new Mansfield Town striker Oli Hawkins promises to cause havoc in the box
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.”