We have been very lucky to receive great support for our Canary Crisis Fund Crowdfunder appeal from far and wide. This week I was fortunate to be able to arrange an interview with our local MP Bim Afolami and despite the pressures of Westminster and his very busy schedule he was very keen to express his delight at how successful our Crowdfunder had been and how important Hitchin Town FC was to the local community.
I was interested to discover that Bim has always loved football. He was vice captain of his school team before taking over as captain after the previous incumbent got injured. He was a sweeper and played for Eton College’s first team and they reached the semi-final of the National Schools Cup. He then went to Oxford University and again played for the first team but was now playing as either a centre back or in central midfield.
Bim saw his first Premier League game at Tottenham but his father was an ardent Arsenal supporter and Bim was therefore influenced to follow in his father’s footsteps. Bim attended many games with his father and it was during the era of Patrick Vierra, Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Pettit when Arsenal were a dominant force and Bim well remembers the rivalry with Manchester United.
Bim went to work in the city and then he entered politics and this severely curtailed his chances of watching and playing football. He then got married and with young children his chances of attending football games became more remote.
He has only seen a handful of games subsequently but a couple of those were at Top Field. His knowledge of non-league football used to stem from the FA Cup exploits of non-league teams but he has since discovered how a club like Hitchin Town are a vital part of the local community. He fully appreciates the community and charity work that Hitchin Town have been carrying out over many seasons. Bim realises that the local football club is one of the few things that can bring the whole community together and it can unite people from very different backgrounds and it creates a sense of togetherness.
Bim told me how delighted he was that our Canary Crisis Fund Crowdfunder had been so successful. He has enjoyed his Top Field visits and appreciates the necessity to raise funds to carry out essential health and safety work so all supporters can safely visit our iconic ground. Indeed Bim quickly agreed to donate to the Crowdfunder himself and it is great to be supported by our local MP. He sincerely hopes we reach our new target of £50,000 and he now has a link to our Crowdfunder appeal on his website for which we are very grateful. Bim said to me that the value of a football club should not be measured in purely monetary terms as it is just as important to realise the affection it is held in by its supporters and the huge show of support for the Crowdfunder shows how true this is.
So many thanks to Bim for giving me this interview and for the great support he is giving to Hitchin Town FC.
BY ROY IZZARD