During the past few weeks both Stewart Curtis at the Club and Matthew Platt of the North Herts Museum have been in communication with Dutch journalist Mark Lobbezoo from De Faam newspaper, a publication circulated in the Zeeland region of the Netherlands.
Mark’s contact was regarding an article focussed on the relationships forged post-WWII between clubs in that region and English clubs. It returned some incredibly interesting parts of our history, a large proportion of which was revealed by objects gathered on tour by former Club Secretary Vic Wayling.
We were first visited by a European side, Vlissingen (often referred to as Flushing FC) of the Netherlands, in 1947, so we’ve made the assumption that these connections were formed as people met during WWII. It seems that the aforementioned Vic was very much the orchestrator of these friendly matches.
What started out as visits to the Netherlands quickly grew over the years as Hitchin faced opposition in France, Germany, Belgium and Spain. Again another assumption, but we therefore believe that what started out as post-WWII friendship fixtures then became an annual post-season foreign tour for the club.
Below is a table of the friendly fixtures we’ve gathered together so far. Club Fixtures Secretary Chris Newbold has since made reference to a trip to Spain in 1982 – so we have definitely got some way to go yet. Therefore, if there are any fixtures or details missing below, please do get in touch and I’ll update the table as we go.
We’d also love to hear from anyone who went on these tours as I’m sure there would be some great tales to be told. Finally, thank you to both Mark Lobbezoo and Matthew Platt for helping kickstart this fascinating glimpse into the history books.
We regularly welcome groundhoppers from the Netherlands, so publicity such as this can only be good in raising the profile of our beloved Club.
Our Foreign Opposition Record
|Date||Opp Nationality||Home Team||Away Team||Score||Alternative Location|
|27/08/1947||Netherlands||Hitchin Town||Vlissingen||3-2 Win|
|27/03/1948||Netherlands||De Zeeuwen||Hitchin Town||4-1 Win||Bosweg, Vlissingen|
|29/03/1948||Netherlands||Middelburg||Hitchin Town||1-1 Draw|
|04/04/1958||Netherlands||Hitchin Town||KVV Quickboys||1-2 Defeat|
|??/05/1958||France||Les Tigres, Les Sables||Hitchin Town||8-1 Win|
|??/05/1958||France||Souche & Moncontant||Hitchin Town||5-0 Win|
|16/05/1959||Netherlands||RCS||Hitchin Town||8-1 Win|
|18/05/1959||Netherlands||Vlissingen||Hitchin Town||1-1 Win||Groede|
|04/06/1960||Netherlands||WHS||Hitchin Town||4-0 Win|
|21/05/1961||France||Thionville||Hitchin Town||2-0 Win|
|22/05/1961||France||Longwy||Hitchin Town||2-2 Draw|
|09/06/1962||Netherlands||RCS||Hitchin Town||5-4 Win||Oost-Souburg|
|03/06/1963||Belgium||Gentse Studentenselectie||Hitchin Town||2-3 Defeat|
|05/06/1965||Netherlands||KVV Quick Boys||Hitchin Town||3-2 Win|
|28/05/1966||Germany||Rhems||Hitchin Town||3-2 win|
|27/05/1967||Belgium||Racing Club Ghent-Brugge||Hitchin Town||3-2 Win|
|28/05/1967||UK||Spartan United||Hitchin Town||3-2 Win||Ghent|
|28/05/1967||Germany||Dusseldorf||Hitchin Town||4-1 Win||Ghent|
|24/06/1968||Spain||Tossa Del Mar||Hitchin Town||1-4 Defeat|
|26/06/1968||Spain||Palamos||Hitchin Town||6-5 Win|
|03/06/1971||Spain||Arenal||Hitchin Town||7-2 Win|
|09/06/1972||Spain||Arenal||Hitchin Town||7-2 Win|
|01/06/1973||Spain||SD Villajoysa||Hitchin Town||3-2 Win|
|01/06/1974||Spain||Pena Athletico Madrid||Hitchin Town||5-1 Win|
The article in English (from Google Translate)
In the first twenty years after the Second World War, English football clubs regularly visited Zeeland. Known is the annual meeting between VC Vlissingen and Bromley FC, in and around England and Zeeland. Most clubs came by only once or twice, but one club played at least seven times against a club in Zeeland, probably even more often. And always souvenirs such as pennants, cups, flags, etc. were exchanged. That is why the Hitchin Town club has memorabilia from various Zeeland football clubs, most of which can be seen in a local museum.
Any Brexit does not break Zeeland-British ties.
Between 1947 and 1963, the English amateur club Hitchin Town regularly made the crossing to Belgium or the Netherlands during the Easter or Pentecost days and almost always a game was played in Zeeland.
Hitchin Town played against VC Flushing, RCS, De Zeeuwen, Middelburg, WHS, but also just over the provincial border against METO from Hoogerheide. Even in Groede there was played. The opening game of the new sports park there in 1959 went between Vlissingen and Hitchin Town. The match ended in 1-1 and Hitchin got a cup with inscription from the mayor of the then independent municipality of Groede.
It all started in 1946 when Bromley offered Flushing after the inundation of Walcheren to play a charity match. A year later, Vlissingen brought a return visit to England and combined that with a second game, against Hitchin Town.
The contacts were made and the ties between the clubs remained, because Vlissingen and Bromley would play around each other for about 20 years, but Hitchin also visited them a few times, as in 1959 and 1962. In the last two years played Hitchin also against RCS in Oost-Souburg, but they also played against De Zeeuwen and Middelburg (both in 1948), against WHS in 1960 and METO a year later.
Probably there is no other English club that played against more different clubs in Zeeland as Hitchin Town. In those years, Zeeland was a popular stopping place for English clubs, as not only Bromley and Hitchin Town, but also Folkestone, Dulwich Hamlet, Hendon, Scarborough, Dagenham, Wingate, Micham and Wolverton Town came to Zeeland. Followers of English nonleague football say these names enough, because all these clubs still exist, in the sense that they survive through mergers, or have been re-established.
Similarly, Hitchin, Town that was founded in 1865 and re-established in 1928. The club still exists and nowadays plays in the Southern League, at the seventh level of England as non-league club (semi-pros). Of the matches known in the archives Hitchin did not lose any of a Zeeland opponent. After 1966 there were no or hardly any more English clubs to visit in Zeeland. Why is not known.
The accommodation of Hitchin Town is too small to accommodate all attributes and so a nearby museum offered a solution. The North Herts Museum has traditionally also a football collection. Over the years many banners, flags and other souvenirs have been transferred to the museum, but not everything is clear what it is, where it comes from and what the story is behind it. People knew about the European trips, but that was just about everything. The current generation at Hitchin cherishes the past and has therefore placed all the articles that have meanwhile been mapped on the website of the museum. Vaantjes from VC Vlissingen, a cup from the municipality of Groede and much more, but that still needs to be sorted out. There also needs to be a wall tile from RCS. And the club itself has a race poster from WHS.
All mapped Zeeland articles are posted on the museum’s website.
https://ehive.com/objects?accountId=4308&query=vlissingen is the address.
There is also another website where all results of official Hitchin Town matches are kept. There are now still missing the results of the matches on the European mainland. But Hitchin Town club archivist and webmaster Stewart Curtis has entrusted me that they will soon be on it, so that soon we will all meet the names of VC Vlissingen, RCS, De Zeeuwen, MV & AV Middelburg, WHS on the website.
Club secretary Vic. Wayling mentioned in the club magazine of VC Vlissingen in 1959 the Pentecost trip “probably the best tour we have ever made” and said to hope that the clubs would meet again in the future, and if not, then it was in any case a beautiful memory. So another meeting would take place, but after that only the memory remained, which has been going on for almost 60 years.
With the Brexit on the horizon and the low position of the pound, a visit to Hitchin is extra cheap. You can combine a visit to the football club and the museum in one day. For those who want to visit the club, Hitchin is only 50 kilometers from Cambridge. The museum is currently being renovated, and is limited in scope, so that the Zeeland collection is not permanently on display. If you want to visit the museum, it is best to first check the website or make an appointment.
On the website of the club you can find more about the history of Hitchin Town.
The article in Dutch