We’re saddened to confirm the news that goalkeeper Michael Johnson has today departed Hitchin Town to join National League South side Braintree Town.

Having joined from Stotfold, Johnson made his debut for the Canaries in August 2014.

A real fans favourite, he has gone on to amass 184 appearances across five seasons, hardly missing a match over the past three years. During his time with the Club, “MJ” also gained a reputation as a penalty-saving specialist, with Canaries supporters particularly remembering his heroics in the play-off semi-final tie away to Merthyr Town, as well as his FA Cup penalty save at Leatherhead back in October, which helped the Club to the First Round for the first time in 23 years.

With Mark Burke away on holiday, we spoke to First-team coach and long time team mate, Brett Donnelly:

With Burkey away on holiday and on a boat in the middle of the ocean I was given my first job! Sadly it’s not one I wanted. We have to say goodbye to Michael Johnson (Muj). He’s been offered a fantastic opportunity to play for a club that has just been relegated from the National League in Braintree.

They have a new manager and backroom staff. Personally I think it’s the right time for Michael to go. He may have outgrown the nest here at Top Field. Having played with him for a number of years I know he will be a huge asset to Braintree. I’m sure everyone at the club will agree that he’s earnt the right to move on. We wish him all the best.

Speaking of the move on Twitter, MJ said:

Sad to be leaving my hometown club but couldn’t have given anymore! A massive thanks to Burkey, Parks and all the lads from past and present. Also to the fans and club itself. I take with me unforgettable memories. I’m sure I’ll see you all again soon.

Whilst it’s never nice to see your key players depart the Club, we understand this move represents a fantastic opportunity to MJ. Braintree were only relegated from the National League last season, so will be one of the favourites to bounce straight back to the top-flight of non-league during the 2019/20 season.

It goes without saying that we wish Michael all the very best for the future. Not only has he been a fantastic performer on the pitch, but a great character off it. He always had a smile on face and was incredibly approachable to supporters.

MJ, thanks for the great memories in Canaries colours and we look forward to seeing you back at Top Field supporting the lads whenever you can.