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1934-35: Champions!

To see the results, scorers, appearances and attendances from 1934-35, click here

1934-35After going close in the previous couple of years, Hitchin secured their first league title in 1934-35. And just like the second title, 68 years later, it was achieved in dramatic fashion. This was a golden period for the club, with healthy crowds, plenty of goals and a team packed with talented individuals.
But the Canaries’ season didn’t get off to the best of starts. As momentum grew, however, Hitchin started to enjoy good runs in all competitions with progress in the FA Cup and FA Amateur Cup. The Canaries reached the last 16 in the latter, eventually going out to the mighty Casuals in front of a Top Field crowd of 4,484.
The run, and continued success elsewhere, meant that by March, Hitchin had played just 11 league games. Typically, Hitchin’s big rivals were the Metropolitan Police and it was the two games with the boys in blue that many saw as the deciding games. But the Police won both games, 3-0 at Imber Court and 2-1 at Top Field. With one month of the season remaining, Hitchin had to play 14 of their 26 Spartan League games.
This was a huge challenge for Alf Amos’s side, but they rose to it magnificently. The game at Hitchin with the Police attracted 2,500 people and according to the local press, was “one of the finest struggles ever to be seen at Top Field.”
The Police finished their fixtures ahead of Hitchin, reaching 38 points. With o ne game remaining, Hitchin were one point behind. A tired Canaries’ side drew 0-0 at Hounslow, thanks to a fine performance from Cecil “Tiddler” Cannon. It meant that Hitchin clinched the title on goal average, by 0.07 of a goal! Cannon said of Hitchin’s achievement: “Our success is not based on individualism, but teamwork. If there is a better league than the Spartan, it will take some finding.”

Reg Smith
The word great is an overused superlative in football, but the very word is an appropriate way to describe Reg Smith, probably Hitchin’s best ever player. Reg died at the beginning of January 2004 at the age of 91.
James Christopher Reginald Smith was born in Battersea on January 20 1912, the some of a South African rugby international. He was a pupil at the British School in Hitchin.
Before joining Hitchin Town, Reg played for Pirton. He made his debut for Hitchin on September 6th 1930 in the Canaries first ever FA Cup tie, a 0-0 draw at home to Luton Amateurs. In the 1930-31 season, the teenager made a handful of appearances for the club. “Alf Amos, our trainer, was good to work with. He created a nice atmosphere in the dressing room and he built a very good team which won the Spartan League,” he said. “Alf took the football to a new level in his time at Hitchin – we used to massacre some teams.”
Reg became an electrician while he was at Hitchin and was soon attracting the attention of senior clubs in the South of England. He signed amateur forms at Tottenham and Crystal Palace, and as a member of Hitchin’s 1935 Spartan League championship team, it was little surprise when Millwall came knocking on Hitchin’s door.
The 1934-35 season saw Reg regularly display “dazzling wing play”, according to the local press. , who reported on more Hitchin games than any other newsman, always said that Reg Smith was the finest player ever to wear the club’s colours. He played just over 100 games for Hitchin but at the start of the 1935-36 season, he signed for Milwall, just after being made captain.
 At Milwall, Reg made 85 Football League appearances in three seasons before the Second World War, scoring 13 goals. In 1938 he won a Division Three South Championship medal, and his performances for Millwall won him international recognition. On November 9 1938, Reg lined up for England at St James’ Park, Newcastle, against Norway. He scored twice in that game, and the great Tommy Lawton of Everton and Ronnie Dix of Derby County scored the other goals. He won one more full cap, against Ireland at Old Trafford, a 7-0 win for England. During the war, he also won two unofficial caps in 1940 and 1941. Reg was very unassuming about his England career, which saw him play alongside the likes of Lawton and Stanley Matthews. His son, Reg Junior, said that his father was “extremely proud of representing his country. His father had represented South Africa, so he felt pleased that he had achieved something.”
During the war, Reg had spent a lot of time in Scotland and when hostilities ceased, he forged a career north of the border. He had a spell with Dundee and Dundee United, the latter as manager. In between, he was manager of Corby Town. But his greatest success as a manager was at Falkirk, where he won the Scottish Cup in 1957.
When he took over at Falkirk, he said, “I’ll have to be a miracle man to keep this lot up. At the time, I would not have bet a farthing that Falkirk would escape relegation, let alone win the Scottish Cup.”

Cecil Cannon
Tall goalkeeper who joined Hitchin Town in 1930 from Cambridge Town. A member of Hitchin's AFA Senior Cup winning side, he made his debut for the Canaries in September 1930 against Luton Amateurs in the FA Cup and went on to play almost 177 times for the club. He was capped by Hertfordshire over 50 times and also represented the Spartan League. A native of Cambridge, he was involved in the confectionary business for many years. Nicknamed "Tiddler", he performed heroics for Hitchin on a number of occasions, notably in the AFA Senior Cup final where he played on despite being injured. He was also a pivotal figure in Hitchin's Spartan League success of 1935, pulling off several vital saves in the title-clinching game at Hounslow, which turned out to be his last for the club. Cannon captained the team in that memorable 1934-35 season.

Alf Amos
H.A. "Alf" Amos joined Hitchin in 1930 as Manager, Trainer, Coach and Groundsman. Born in Forest Hill, London in 1893, Alf played for Brentford and Millwall as a half-back and appeared in almost 300 Football League games. He played for Millwall in their first ever league game. Amos was immeidately successful at Hitchin, driving the club to promotion to the Spartan League Premier Division and presiding over the magnificent 1931-32 season and later the Spartan League title in 1935. In 1937, Amos resigned, claiming that the club could no longer afford to keep him. Amos was, after all, a full-time employee in an ama teur game. He could claim to be one of Hitchin’s most successful and certainly influential managers. Amos did in 1964, aged 71.

George "Ranji" Adams
A resident in Hitchin right up until his death in 2004, George Adams was known as "Ranji" for his shock of black hair and complexion. Adams made his debut for Hitchin in November 1934 in the 6-0 victory over Letchworth in the FA Amateur Cup and went on to win a Spartan League champions medal at the end of that season. Played over 200 games for the Canaries, including a handful of games after the second world war. In later life, Adams went on to be a local football referee.




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