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1960-61: Scott's men plant the seeds of legend

The 1960-61 season ranks among the finest in Hitchin Town’s history. Hitchin Town 1960-61Manager Laurie Scott had started to assemble a useful side over the previous two years and in the summer of 1960, he had secured the services of Terry Waldock, a move that many considered to be the "final piece of the jigsaw". Other new faces included Peter Cox, also from Finchley and Dennis Randall from Vauxhall Motors. Waldock and Randall would form on the most potent attacks in the Canaries’ history.
Just days before the season got underway, Don Birdsey, writing in the local press, said: "Hitchin should do better this time." These were prophetic words, indeed.
Hitchin fired on all fronts in 1960-61. Although they failed to win any of their first four games - conceding six goals in two of those fixtures - as 1960 drew to a close, goals started to flow in the right direction. But it was the FA Cup that provided much of the excitement in the early months. Biggleswade (4-0), Vauxhall Motors (3-0), St.Albans (4-0) and Abingdon (2-0) were despatched to give Hitchin a first round tie at Crystal Palace. The London side were top of the Third Division South at the time, and expected a crowd of 20,000 for the tie. The Canaries lost 6-2, but were by no means disgraced, with Charlie Turner having an outstanding game keeping Palace at bay.
After going out of the FA Cup, Hitchin turned their attention to the Athenian League. Leyton were beaten 10-0 (Randall scoring four), Finchley 9-3 (another Randall treble) and Enfield 3-2. Between December 10 and February 25, Hitchin won seven of their eight league games to emerge as genuine title contenders.
Ford United provided Hitchin’s first opposition in the FA Amateur Cup. Newspaper cartoon, Crystal Palace v Hitchin TownThe Canaries won 4-0. "To my knowledge, nobody has tipped Hitchin as possible cup winners. But this was the sort of performance which must make a lot of clubs sit up and take notice," noted the match report.
Southall were beaten 3-2 in the next round, with the injured Randall heading what proved to be the winner. Randall was the hero again in round three, scoring two goals as the Canaries beat Ferryhill Athletic in front of more than 5,000 people. The quarter final sent Hitchin to Loughborough Colleges to play against a team of Physical Education instructors. The college side had a certain pedigree, having beaten Bishop Auckland and Corinthian Casuals on the way to the last eight. The pitch was surrounded by a bank of grass and a series of duckboards.
The game captured the imagination of the locals as well as a huge band of Hitchin supporters who travelled to the game. The Canaries' performance is considered to be a high point for Laurie Scott’s talented side as a 5-1 scoreline suggests. The press was full of praise. "If Hitchin can keep this form up, nothing can stop them from winning the FA Amateur Cup." But there was something in Hitchin’s way - Walthamstow Avenue.
There was a blow for Hitchin in the week preceding the semi-final at White City - a stadium that would host one 1966 World Cup tie. Terry Waldock was injured and ruled out of the tie. Scott shuffled his pack and brought in Jeff Cowan. The game was a tight affair, but it was settled by a controversial penalty, awarded after the ball had bounced onto Cowan’s arm. Jim Lewis, who played in Chelsea’s 1955 championship side, buried the kick past Turner.
Hitchin were crestfallen but returned to league action in a bid to win the title. They still had 10 games to play. Three wins after White City suggested they could win it, but three other clubs were in the hunt - Hendon, Wealdstone and Barnet. Hitchin’s last three games were all against the challengers.
After a good Easter, the Canaries lost at home to Southall, a game which saw a crowd disturbance as one frustrated supporter invaded the pitch in frustration. The truth was, however, that this defeat proved very costly. Hitchin had run out of steam and won just once in their last five games, finished fifth, six points behind champions Hendon. But Hitchin officials were delighted with the 1960-61 season. "It will be a long time before we forget those great Amateur cup wins…with a little more luck, we would have won the title." There was one prize, however- the Herts Charity Cup.

Dennis Randall
Dennis Randall at LoughboroughDennis Randall joined the Canaries in 1960, taking over from Peter Hammond in the centre forward role. "I came into a very good side, with two excellent wingers in Roger Figg and Tony Horne and a goalscoring inside forward in Johnny Graves," recalled Dennis.
He was renowned for his heading skills. "I must have scored 60% of my goals with my head, but in truth, the players I had around me made it easier for me."
Dennis credits Laurie Scott for sharpening up his game. "I basically stepped up a grade when I came to Hitchin and Laurie worked very hard with me. I was always very tired after training!".
He had scored prolifically for Vauxhall Motors and the Athenian League was a better standard of football. He made his debut for Hitchin on August 20th 1960 at Southall and in his first season, he scored 52 goals in 42 games. The following season, he scored 51 goals in 44 games.
He won two England amateur caps in 1962, "a great honour", and regrets that the Canaries didn’t win the FA Amateur Cup. "We should have done better against Walthamstow Avenue in the semi-final," he remembered. "If we had been less shy and taken our chances, we would have gone all the way."
He recalled many of the players from that fine team. "Bruce Spavins was a hell of a player and Charlie Turner was an excellent keeper. Johnny Graves made my game and Tony Horne was a brilliant crosser of the ball."
Dennis left Hitchin in 1962, and turned semi-pro with Kettering in the Southern League. "I was getting married at the time and the move was good financially, but Laurie tried to keep me. But that Hitchin team was fantastic to play in and I enjoyed my two years with the club."

Match report

Terry Craddock
Terry Craddock was one of coach Laurie Scott’s best signings for the Canaries and became one of the great characters on and off the pitch in a golden era for the club.
He had come to Hitchin’s attention as an inside forward, appearing against the Canaries in August 1957 for Letchworth Town. A much-coveted youngster, Craddock signed for Hitchin in 1959. Earlier in his career he played for the England Boys Club team and was on the books of Queens Park Rangers. He also won England schoolboy honours.
Craddock made his Hitchin debut on August 22 1959 against Redhill at Top Field. He scored his first goal for the club on September 26 1959 against Carshalton in a 3-2 win for the Canaries. Initially an inside forward, on either side of the field, in his first season, Craddock was top scorer with 17 goals. But he developed into one of the best half backs in the amateur game, possessing great energy and a blisteringly hard shot.
In 1906-61, Hitchin narrowly lost in the FA Amateur Cup semi-final to Walthamstow Avenue and although many people felt the Canaries froze on the day, Craddock was totally unperturbed by the occasion. An ebullient figure, he was very much at the heart and soul of Laurie Scott’s team.
Two years later, Craddock was in the Hitchin side that missed out again at the penultimate stage of the competition, losing 4-0 to Sutton at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.
Craddock made 271 competitive appearances for the Canaries, scoring 58 goals. He later played for Baldock Town.

Turner at LoughboroughCharlie Turner at Loughborough in the FA Amateur Cup Quarter-Final. Turner's opposite number on a memorable day was Bob Wilson, who went on to play for Arsenal and Scotland. Wilson was injured in the game, but played on with cracked ribs.

See also

Statistics from the 1960-61 season, including all of Hitchin's results, scorers, gates, and appearance records, can be downloaded here

1961-62 and 1962-63 - the story of the seasons that followed 1960-61

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