The Grey Neutral: Bernie the goal, Bury and Belgium

NON-LEAGUE football has its heroes and Hitchin Town lost one of its legendary figures this past week when it was announced Bernie Gogan had passed away. Gogan was a member of Hitchin’s 1968-69 team that finished runners-up in the Isthmian League. Hitchin had a very decent team in those days and Gogan, along with his striking partner Roy Cutler, were known as the “terrible twins”. … Continue reading The Grey Neutral: Bernie the goal, Bury and Belgium

Young, gifted and green

THINGS haven’t gone particularly well for Hitchin Town this season, the first three games yielded just one point and a refashioned team was heavily beaten 5-0 at Alvechurch. Famously loyal, the fans have kept very quiet – there was a time when such a start to the season would have prompted calls for the manager to be sacked, but there’s no sign of #burkeyout among … Continue reading Young, gifted and green

Behind the scenes in small-time football

I DISCOVERED what non-league football was all about in, of all places, a gentleman’s urinal. It was 1991 and I had been involved with Hitchin Town of the Isthmian League for just a few weeks when a club “worthie” of many years leaned over and whispered: “The thing is, my friend, we don’t take kindly to outsiders. Just remember that.” This elderly fellow, who had … Continue reading Behind the scenes in small-time football

Digging-in for those dugouts

WHEN the people of Hitchin marched in support of Top Field, the ancient home of the local football club, it was with one eye on a new stadium being constructed on Fishponds Road. It will be six years in December since that memorable afternoon took place, but there has been some movement on the playing fields of Hitchin. New dugouts. When you consider it is … Continue reading Digging-in for those dugouts

When game management goes astray

HITCHIN TOWN’s FA Cup run seems a long time ago these days. Since losing to Solihull Moors on November 11, they have played 14 games and have lost nine of them. Six home games in the league have yielded a combined attendance of 2,230 – whatever happened to those new found fans that discovered their local club when the TV cameras were present? How fickle … Continue reading When game management goes astray

March of the “amateurs”

A NOTE to the national media – football clubs that enter the FA Cup are not, mostly, “amateur” and they do pay their players hard cash. This oft-repeated and somewhat patronising term, used to describe non-league clubs when anyone wants to underline a story about the “butcher, baker, candlestick-maker” element of football outside the professional game, continues to be used when national media turn up … Continue reading March of the “amateurs”

When Hitchin first met “the little tin idol”

ON Sunday November 11, 2018, exactly 147 years after the club’s ancestors kicked-off the first FA Cup , Hitchin Town will play Solihull Moors in the first round of football’s oldest knockout competition. Hitchin Football Club, which dabbled with Rugby as well as Association, had been in existence since 1865 when the competition was inaugurated. A group of local worthies decided to form a football … Continue reading When Hitchin first met “the little tin idol”

FA Cup: Homage to the spot

AS EVER, a built-up game failed to deliver, but both Hitchin Town and Leatherhead left the field knowing they are still in the FA Cup and the prospect of a plum tie in round one was still possible. If Hitchin do end their 23-year wait for first round action, they may thank the heavens for the invention of the penalty spot. This blob of whitewash … Continue reading FA Cup: Homage to the spot

FA Cup: If only the public realised…

ASIDE from people who have an interest in non-league football, the FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie between Hitchin Town and Leatherhead will bypass most of the Hertfordshire market town of 35,000 or so people. Yet in a corner of Hitchin, actually in the heart of Hitchin, a cup-tie will take place that could, for the winners, open the door to fame and fortune – … Continue reading FA Cup: If only the public realised…

Brimful of cash: Why the FA Cup is vital for non-league clubs

BELIEVE it or not, there are still many people who do not realise that local non-league clubs play in the same competition as Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool. The fact that a succession of qualifying rounds are over by late October, long before the game’s aristocracy even think about the prospect of new year cup-ties, only fuels the mild surprise that Ragbag Rovers from the … Continue reading Brimful of cash: Why the FA Cup is vital for non-league clubs

Fighting the cycles of time

IN the vast majority of cases, non-league football (indeed, football in general) is a cyclical business. Teams are built, enjoy some degree of success or survival, then the team breaks-up and the club starts again. Hitchin Town is currently going through a cycle of sorts, the sort of period that is often described as “transition”, “rebuilding” or “treading water”. Manager Mark Burke (left) is in … Continue reading Fighting the cycles of time

“Tales of the Town” – a century and a half of association football in Hitchin

THESE past two years, Game of the People has been working on a celebratory book looking back at the long history of Hitchin Town Football Club. The book – all proceeds to Hitchin Town – was published just before the Christmas period and is available online here. There have always been a lot of myths and legends surrounding Hitchin Town Football Club. Folklore has a … Continue reading “Tales of the Town” – a century and a half of association football in Hitchin

Edgar Street blues

TWENTY-THREE years ago, almost to the day, Hitchin Town travelled to Edgar Street, home of Hereford United, who were then in the fourth tier of the English game. Although Hereford were no great shakes, Hitchin were languishing near the foot of the Isthmian League Premier Division. The Canaries had worked their way through a series of great escapes, against Newmarket, Tiptree and Cambridge City, and … Continue reading Edgar Street blues