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FPM Facilities Services Ltd - 35-37 Hastings Street, Luton, LU1 5BE. Tel: 01582 484020

MasterCars - Quality New, Nearly New & Used Vehicles in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. 1-2 Bunyan Rd, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1NL. Phone 01462 457645

Consilium Financial Planning - 18-19 Woodside House, Walsworth Rd, Hitchin SG4 9SP. Phone: 01462 421775

IDNet - Leased Lines, Broadband & Telecoms - IDNet Studio. Bridge House, 30A Bridge Street, Hitchin. Herts SG5 2DF. Tel: +44 (0) 1462 659 350.

From windows to conservatories, Barry Bolton Windows is the local specialist for Beds, Bucks & Herts. From our free quotes to our high quality service, backed by our 10 year insurance warranty, we've got what you need. Tel: 01582 484 600

Swinton Insurance - 16 Brand Street, Hitchin. Phone: 01462 436253

Ridgeons Timber & Builders Merchants - Hitchin Branch

At lionshome.co.uk, you can conveniently find new design ideas for your home, inspirations for garden design, DIY ideas and much more.

Specialists in SAP Data & Document Archiving

Screenbond - Manufacturers of  PCB's

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Peak Fitness Gym

Richard Taylor Travel - Coach suppliers to Hitchin Town FC.

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1976-77: Cup fighters extraordinary

In the 1960s, Hitchin’s big goal was to reach the FA Amateur Cup final. The club craved national recognition but had to be content with a scandal, a museum and two semi-finals to make the headlines. In 1976-77, the FA Cup gave them some national emimence for their exploits on the field.

It was Andy Williams’ first full season as manager. He brought in Chris Wright as coach – later a successful sports administrator in the US -  and released a crop of players who had served the club well in the past. New faces included Ray Brimson from Hemel Hempstead and former Dulwich Hamlet midfielder Hughie Wilson.

Hitchin lost their opening league game against Leatherhead but earned two good victories against Woking and Bishop’s Stortford shortly afterwards. A 13-match unbeaten run consolidated the Canaries’ position among the leaders with notable wins against Wycombe, Slough and Hendon. But as league leaders, Hitchin lost 0-3 at home to Tilbury and by November, Hitchin were second in the table, one point behind Wycombe but with three games in hand.

The Canaries were firing on all fronts, however, and made good progress in the London Senior Cup and FA Trophy. The FA Cup trail started at Dover Athletic in the fourth qualifying round. Hitchin were two-down within 37 minutes, but recovered to draw 2-2, thanks to an own goal and a rare strike from Kevin Hammond. The replay was won comfortably 3-1 with Peter Watson netting a hat-trick. The win set-up an intriguing tie with monied Weymouth, who included former Ipswich forward John O’Rourke and Coventry old boy Deitmar Bruck. The first round tie in Dorset ended 1-1 with Hitchin adopting a robust approach that earned the chants of “animals” from the locals.

The replay at Top Field also ended all-square, with substitute Paul Giggle scoring a last-gasp equalizer to make it 2-2. The tie moved on to neutral territory, Aldershot, and once more the balance of power swung from team to team. The final score this time was 3-3, making a third replay necessary at Salisbury. This time, Hitchin won 3-1, with Watson scoring twice and playing the latter stages with a broken toe.

Hitchin’s prize was a home second round tie with Swindon Town of the old Football League Third Division. The Hitchin public were wary of this tie as the previous meeting with a League club had seen some trouble in the town. The local bookmakers made Hitchin 6-4 favourites and even Danny Williams, the Swindon manager, admitted that the Isthmian Leaguers were  “far better than I expected” after watching Watson, Giggle & Co.

Watson was the subject of some anxiety as his broken toe was still playing up. He was tipped as the matchwinner by many people and his form had been exceptional leading up to the game. A crowd of 4,827 turned up for the tie, somewhat smaller than some predictions. The pitch was fairly hazardous on a freezing December afternoon. Wilf Dixon gave Swindon the lead in the 35th minute with a shot that hit both posts as it went past Brian Godfrey and Neill Bunker equalized in the second half to spark a pitch invasion, mostly comprising young boys.  Hitchin came out of the game with a lot of credit and the third round draw promised even greater excitement as the winners would meet a Fulham team that contained George Best, Bobby Moore and Rodney Marsh.

The replay took two attempts to determine an outcome, but that was down to the weather. The first meeting, during which Hitchin were pulverized into submission, was abandoned after 67 minutes due to thick fog. Swindon were leading 1-0. Four days before Christmas, Hitchin’s FA Cup run was over, Swindon winning 3-1 in extra time, largely to the fresh impetus of substitute Don Rogers, as much a local hero as Paul Giggle was at Hitchin.

The FA Trophy was next for Hitchin. In between the Swindon games, the Canaries had beaten Kings Lynn 3-0 in one of their best displays of the season. Romford were beaten next, by 4-0, sending Hitchin to Bangor in Wales. The first meeting with the Welshmen was drawn before another great midweek cup-tie ended with a 2-1 win for Hitchin. Into the last 16, the draw brought mighty Scarborough to Top Field. The game ended 0-0, although Giggle had the chance to pull off a shock win but hit the post with a fierce shot that rebounded way up the field. In the replay, despite playing well, Hitchin were beaten 3-1.

It was now March and Hitchin still had 24 games to complete, including three semi-finals. The two county cups were successful, but the London Senior Cup saw Hitchin steamrollered by a Wimbledon side on the brink of Football League membership.

Although a final league placing of ninth was below early-season expectations, Hitchin ended the campaign with silverware in the form of the Herts Senior Cup and Herts Charity Cup. By the middle of May, they had played in excess of 70 competitive games – it had been a memorable, if exhausting, season.

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