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Local talent isnít always for the local club

Thursday, November 13 2008

As a former Hitchin schoolboy starts to make a name for himself on the national stage, the story of Jack Wilshere is another tale of "the one that got away" for local football.

Wilshere, 16, has made something of an impact with Arsenal and is being tipped as an England Under-21 international by the media. He is already being compared to the great Liam Brady. Hitchin Town have never had Wilshere in their ranks and Luton also missed the boat, having seen him lured away to Arsenalís Hale End Academy as a nine year-old.

Wilshere isnít the only player to have missed the net at Hitchin. Dave Kitson played a few games for Hitchin in the mid-1990s but at that time, he was more interested in earning pocket money than playing football. The teenager had promise and today is an established Premier League player with Stoke.

Kevin Phillips and Ian Allinson were both born in Hitchin, but neither played for the Canaries, so too was Kevin Pilkington, who played a handful of games for Manchester United and appeared for Rochdale, Rotherham, Port Vale and Mansfield.

One locally-born lad who was on Hitchin Youthís books for a while was Andrew Fotiadis who played 123 games for Luton Town.

The last players to move from Hitchin to Football League clubs were Zema Abbey (Cambridge United), Steven Graham (Watford) and Matt Nolan (Peterborough United). Only Abbey made any sort of impact, but his 60-game Football League was hampered by injuries. Abbey will be at Top Field this weekend as his current club, Halesowen, take on the Canaries.

Wilshere, meanwhile, is being touted as "the next Gazza". Letís hope not for his sakeÖ

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