While it will not be easy I am going to try and produce weekly bulletins through the Covid crisis. Obviously there will not be a great deal of news to share in the next few weeks but I will try and keep supporters as up to date as possible with anything happening at Hitchin Town FC.

The main headline this week is an idea that was suggested by our social media team to introduce an online 50/50 draw with the aim being to raise desperately needed funds for the club but equally importantly also raising funds for the East & North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity , which is running a special #HereForEachOthers campaign to raise funds to support the Coronavirus effort in our local area.

The distribution of the prizing will be 40% to the winner, 40% to Hitchin Town FC and 20% to the East & North Herts Hospitals’ Charity. We would like everybody to get behind this fund raising effort and if you can publicise it through your various social media outlets such as twitter facebook and instagram we would be grateful as the more people we can get involved the more money we can raise. The club urgently need income as our revenue streams have disappeared overnight but even more important is the need to support our wonderful NHS.

Tickets are still £1 just as on match days but if you feel more generous there is no limit on the number of tickets you can buy. Tickets are now on sale, you can purchase by clicking here, with the draw due to be made live online via our twitter feed on Wednesday 8 April at 7.45pm.

Please support the 50/50 and you will find it very easy to register to buy your tickets. Our players and management have already bought their tickets so please join them.

The news came through this week that the 2019/20 season has been declared null and void. Before I get to our manager Mark Burke’s view on this decision I will give you details of how the last couple of weeks panned out at Top Field.

On Monday 16 March we had been due to play Leiston but the Southern League had suspended all league fixtures. Mark therefore arranged an 11 a side training game at Top Field between the first team and the academy team hoping to use it as preparation for the next scheduled league game at home to St Ives on the following Saturday should the suspension be lifted.

The game was played over four periods, two of twenty minutes and two of fifteen minutes. The academy side started really well and led 1-0 at the end of the first 20 minutes. The equaliser came early in the second period and the first team then took control and eventually ran out 7-1 victors with one of the goals another successful penalty from Layne Eadie. The majority of the first team squad were involved with a special guest appearance from Jonny McNamara who is currently back in the country from New Zealand.

The last training session took place on Thursday 18 March before the shutdown was confirmed. At that time it had been decided the players would continue to train every Thursday but then Boris Johnson announced the lockdown. Mark is keeping in touch with the players by their WhatsApp group and the players have each been sent personal fitness programmes which have been approved by our physio Sam Backhouse.

Mark is now doing his best to plan for next season which is a nightmare because of the current uncertainty. He is working on the pre-season training sessions and thinking about friendlies and squad changes. But things are changing so quickly at the moment that all managers are in the same uncomfortable place.

I asked Mark how he felt about the voiding of the current season. He said that The FA faced a really difficult decision because of the extraordinary circumstances. While Hitchin were in a neutral position not being involved in either promotion or relegation issues he did feel really sorry for those clubs in the promotion and title races as the voiding of the season was a devastating blow. However in Mark’s opinion he felt the FA made the fairest decision possible. It meant all teams fighting for promotion were treated equally whereas if points per game was used there would have been winners and losers. He felt that points per game would not be fair with about a quarter of the season still to be played and from past experience in football all sorts of things can happen with strange results vey prevalent at the end of the season.

There is also the disparity of fixtures as one club may have all the lower positioned clubs to play while another club may have all the top teams to play. There is also the effect of injuries, new signings and certain clubs playing a lot of fixtures to catch up which all adds to the uncertainties of how the season would have ended. Mark did agree the bottom clubs have got lucky but even then they could have had a great set of results to climb clear of trouble. Along with Hitchin probably two thirds of clubs are not affected by the voiding of the season.

The players are now confined to home but their studies continue. By logging in with their computers they can actually see their lecturer delivering their lessons and will still submit their course work to be marked. Jade Lathrope (wife of our academy manager Damon) has designed a fitness programme for the players to follow and Mark may well use it for the first team.

I felt we all need cheering up with the current Coronavirus pandemic leading to so much gloom and despondency so I asked Brett to produce one of his infamous blogs as he has the ability to make us smile. I am pleased to say he has answered my call and we hope to get the blog online early next week.

Finally, please make sure we all follow government guidelines so we help to protect the NHS. Words cannot express how proud we all are at the work they and other essential workers are doing often putting their own safety at risk so please do not do anything that risks spreading the deadly virus. Mark wanted me to say how emotional he felt as he joined in the clapping on Thursday at 8.00pm. Please stay safe.