NLD, the new Boxing Day?

SINCE NON-LEAGUE DAY was introduced some years ago, sceptics suggested that it would fizzle-out and no longer benefit from the “novelty factor”. Not so, for increasingly people are discovering their local non-league club for the first time through NLD. It is arguable that NLD has become what Christmas matches used to be – an opportunity for the local community to come together. While matches on … Continue reading NLD, the new Boxing Day?

The Donnelly factor

NON-LEAGUE football likes to think of itself as “one big family”, although the romantic idea of fans mingling and back-slapping is often just that. Only last season, I witnessed some rather ugly jostling as two sets of fans passed each other on their way out of the ground, and that was in the Southern League Premier Division. Not much chance of that happening at the … Continue reading The Donnelly factor

Dealing with the pitfalls of successful team-building

EVERYONE loves it when a non-league club builds a vibrant, young team that promises much and provides an admirable example of bringing together players of potential on a modest budget. The problem is, unless the team is successful, its lifespan is very limited, for during the summer months, clubs with more money and higher status come circling like a wake of vultures waiting to pick … Continue reading Dealing with the pitfalls of successful team-building

Hitchin Town had its own Guernica refugee

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is inviting football clubs across Britain to mark the 80th anniversary of the first refugees to play football in the country. The “Football Welcomes” initiative will take place on the weekend of April 22/23. The youngsters arrived from Spain, following the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, which took place on April 26, 1937. The bombing, which was carried out at … Continue reading Hitchin Town had its own Guernica refugee

Oh for a Sherpa to climb that hill

ON THE eve of Britain’s mission to Brussels with its finger on the trigger, there was a reminder of one of the historic occasions that helped define the nation’s history – the 1953 conquest of Everest. Strange that this should be found in Hemel Hempstead, one of the new towns that sprung up after another landmark event, the second world war. This aide memoire came … Continue reading Oh for a Sherpa to climb that hill

Yawning in the sunlight

HOW often does a big game fail to deliver, stubbornly refusing to provide some form of entertainment? That was the case when Hitchin Town met Leamington as second took on third in the Southern League Premier Division in front of a large crowd enjoying the Spring sunshine. There was definitely an air of expectation in Fishponds Road, Hitchin and it wasn’t down to a swimming gala or … Continue reading Yawning in the sunlight

Armed and in position, but which one?

THE RACE for promotion is hotting-up in the Southern League Premier Division but it does already look as though the top five are more or less decided. While the title should go to either Chippenham Town or Leamington, the other three play-off places will come from Slough Town, Hitchin Town and Merthyr Town. What’s at stake is the running order. As it stands, Leamington will … Continue reading Armed and in position, but which one?

Who wouldn’t want to be Hitchin right now?

IT WAS ironic that in a week when the sacking of a manager made all the wrong headlines, Kings Lynn Town rolled into Hitchin after disposing of their “gaffer” in somewhat strange circumstances. Gary Setchell’s departure, if you believe the rumour mill, was several weeks in the making. The former Kings Lynn player had arrived at the club for a discussion over a possible longer-term … Continue reading Who wouldn’t want to be Hitchin right now?

Bruce Spavins: A reminder of a gentler, more sporting era

SATURDAY APRIL 13 1963. Sutton United had just trounced Hitchin Town 4-0 in the semi-final of the FA Amateur Cup. As the victors walked off, the vanquished stood and applauded their opponents. Bruce Spavins, Hitchin’s skipper, led his team in acknowledging Sutton’ achievement. It was a different age, and Bruce Spavins epitomised the ideals of the age – the Corinthian spirit if you like. Spavins … Continue reading Bruce Spavins: A reminder of a gentler, more sporting era

Social media incident highlights lack of understanding

NOBODY can defend the behaviour of anyone using social media to abuse individuals, it was there for all to see. Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times that people feel they can exploit this medium, which allows a certain degree of anonymity, and throw insults and anti-social comments in the direction of anyone they choose. Social media, to some extent, shields the coward. However, … Continue reading Social media incident highlights lack of understanding

Amid Boxing Day’s cobwebs…opportunity lingers

  BOXING DAY is a strange football occasion. People hand out greetings as if they haven’t seen each other for decades, talking about a single day’s eating and drinking to excess as if it was a once-in-a-lifetime event and men bring their wives to football for the one and only time in the season. It’s an odd ritual, especially when the previous game might have … Continue reading Amid Boxing Day’s cobwebs…opportunity lingers

A game with no glory – a fly on the Hitchin wall, 1996-97

NON-LEAGUE football has changed significantly over the past 20 years – players are younger (or is it me?), the quality has declined a little, the cost of watching it has gone up and clubs travel ridiculous distances to play in front of small crowds. The game is more scrutinised than ever before, so it is hard to get away with some of the sins of … Continue reading A game with no glory – a fly on the Hitchin wall, 1996-97

A statement win for a spa weekend

LEAMINGTON is one of the most attractive places to visit for a football match, but if you’re looking for floodlights amid the Regency splendour of the Spa town, you’re out of luck. Leamington’s New Windmill Ground is five miles out of town and there are literally no chimney pots, let alone pylons, in view. While this does have its disadvantages, the road from town to ground … Continue reading A statement win for a spa weekend