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Weekly Bulletin, 22 December

Friday, December 22 2017

FIXTURES
 
Saturday 23 December - no game
 
Tuesday 26 December - away to Royston in the league, kick off 1.00pm. There is no coach to this game.
 
TALES OF THE TOWN
 
This long awaited book written by Neil Jensen is now on sale. You can buy a copy at the next home game or online at https://hitchintownfc.ktckts.com/merchandise/ht1718mtt/tales-of-the-town

I can thoroughly recommend this book and it is an essential buy for any Hitchin Town follower. I read it from cover to cover last Sunday and it brought back so many memories. Congratulations to Neil on his great achievement in covering the entire span of football in Hitchin from 1865 to 2017. It will certainly be a perfect Christmas present for any Hitchin supporter.
 
KETTERING PITCH INSPECTION
 
Last Saturday produced one of those situations all football secretaries dread. At this time of the year I always look at the weather forecast in case conditions could threaten our coming fixtures and there was certainly a worry over Saturday’s game with Kettering. Temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing and were not due to rise much above 3 degrees. I went to be bed Friday evening nervous of what may lay ahead and on waking Saturday morning a heavy frost had occurred. I then waited for the ground staff to check the pitch and at 10.15am I received the phone call I was fearing from Len Leroux. He told me parts of the pitch were frozen solid and an inspection would be needed. Chris Newbold contacted the Kettering secretary to warn him that an inspection was due to take place while I tried to get a local referee in to do the inspection.
 
Because we wanted as late an inspection as possible to give the temperature every chance to rise I could not get a local referee who was able to do the inspection at the time we wanted. So I liaised with the match referee who agreed that he had to do the inspection himself but he had to travel from Northampton and I would therefore have to pay his travel expenses even if the game was called off. This was unavoidable so we agreed Mr Hanna would carry out the inspection at 11.30am.
 
I met him and together with Len we walked over the pitch. Len immediately showed the referee the Fishponds Road six yard box which was undoubtedly the worst part of the ground. It was frozen solid and did not take a stud and Len could not even get a fork to penetrate the surface. Mr Hanna confirmed what we feared that the rest of the pitch was playable but because of safety worries the Fishponds Road six yard box was not playable. To be honest most referees would have called the game off there and then but I must give great credit to Mr Hanna who agreed to make a final decision at 12.30pm giving every opportunity for any rise in temperature to make a difference.
 
The main problem was that the sun did not reach the six yard box because of the shadow of the stand. Even the extra hour did not look like providing enough change to get the game on before Steve Barker came up with a novel idea of using heaters in the six yard box to bring about the thaw needed. Two heaters were found and they were put under a tarpaulin which was cleverly held in place using line marking containers. An extension lead was used to plug in to the club office. Would it work? Well the early signs seemed promising as the heat under the tarpaulin could definitely be felt.
 
At 12.30 the tarpaulin was lifted for Mr Hanna to make his final inspection - and he was so pleased with the improvement he gave the thumbs up and the game was ON! I had been telling Mr Hanna how important it was the game was played on a Saturday as if it was rearranged for a Monday evening we would probably lose 100 supporters which he fully understood and I can only thank him for giving the game every chance to take place when he could have called it off so easily. I must also thank our brilliant ground staff who did so much work on the pitch and terraces to ensure as good a playing surface as possible and safe spectator facilities.

ATTENDANCES
 
Hitchin are sixth in the average attendance league table. Our average of 458 is only bettered by Kettering 664, Slough 670, Weymouth 692, Kings Lynn, 756 and Hereford 2,332.
 
FORM TABLE
 
We remain second in the last six game league table with five wins and a draw. Hereford are top with an identical record but better goal difference.
 
PLAYER NEWS
 
Callum Donnelly has been transferred to Bedford Town. We wish Callum all the best at his new club.
 
Jimmy Hartley is joining Barton Rovers to get more game time and improve his fitness levels. We will have an arrangement with Barton that would enable us to take him back if needed.
 
Charlie Smith did not play against Bishop’s Stortford because of a dead leg picked up against Kettering. He hopes to be fit for the Royston game.
 
Jay Dowie is approaching full fitness having played 45 minutes against Kettering and 72 minutes against Bishop’s Stortford.
 
Kieran McCaffrey’s injury problem has now been identified and we await the consultant’s solution.
 
CHRISTMAS GREETINGS
 
On behalf of Mark Burke and myself we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. Many thanks for your great support throughout the year which we never take for granted and which really does make a difference. We hope you enjoy the weekly bulletins which we will continue to bring out every week of the season.
 

Roy Izzard



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