FIXTURES
The Southern League issued the following statement on Thursday following the latest government announcement on tiers:

“Following the announcement yesterday from HM Government on the adjustments to the Tier system throughout England, the Southern Football League Board have decided to continue the current suspension of the league season.

Therefore, matches on 9th January and the following midweek are hereby postponed.

We shall continue to review this position in line with the Government announcements.”

INTERVIEW WITH SAM BACKHOUSE
The latest in my series of interviews with Hitchin Town personnel is with our club physiotherapist Sam Backhouse. I think you will find it interesting as Sam has had to face a life changing situation. The interview will appear on all our social media outlets this weekend. My next interviewee will be Adam Parker who has agreed to speak to me about his football career.

GROUND REPORT BY STEVE BARKER
I asked Steve to let everyone know what goes on at Top Field even though there is no football being played. This is his report:

Can I first wish everyone a great and happy new year and hope we all get back to “normal” as much as we can and of course have football to watch again.

I just wanted to inform everyone what happens when we can’t play any football at the ground and to keep you all updated with what has been happening since we last played.

We just don’t lock up the ground and forget about everything as there’s lots we have to do to maintain the stadium and also it’s good therapy being out in the fresh air during these strange times and of course retaining social distancing whilst there.

Following the last game it took quite a bit of time to repair the pitch with a lot of divoting carried out.
We have had to purchase and deploy a lot of nets on a large area of the pitch due to just two carrion crows that keep digging up the turf looking for insects etc. In almost 30 years as head groundsman I’ve never had this problem before and it’s fair to say they are doing much more damage than visits from foxes do!

The problem is that they pull large pieces of turf back tearing it into pieces and we can’t put seed down to repair these areas as it won’t germinate due to ground temperatures being too low this time of year so if we do play again before spring you may well see some sand on the areas affected!

After all the strong winds we’ve had the pitch is covered will lots of large twigs blown off the trees surrounding the pitch and these have to picked up by hand, a thankless task. The ground has to be kept tidy even when not in use which is no easy task but all our ground staff and volunteers get on with it like a well oiled machine. A few hot cups of tea and some of Kate and Elaine’s cakes and biscuits are always a welcome sight to refresh us and I must thank them for providing them.

Our new garage/shed is now complete and when you see it it’s hard to imagine that it was delivered in three cardboard boxes with a thousand self tapping screws. However after a lot of graft the construction is now complete. Many thanks to the boys for their mammoth effort in completing this task.

Some of you may have noticed that the old walk in tea bar behind the main stand has been demolished and cleared away leaving a large concrete base. This was because it was rotting and getting dangerous as well as an eyesore. No plans have been decided as to what, if anything will be put in its place.

There is still a lot of work to do which is required to retain our ground grading and as you may know one of the requirements is that the perimeter fence has to be replaced.

We have to remove the existing fencing before the contractor can erect the new one so we will be asking for volunteers to assist us with this in the next few Saturdays please.

Well that’s about it for now but I will keep you all up-to date as to what is happening with our beloved ground.

MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE
Mark has not been in touch with the players over the Christmas period leaving them to enjoy themselves but they will now be given their fitness schedules to keep to until training can resume. Mark wanted to wish all supporters a happy and prosperous new year with a return to normality top of his wish list.

NICK WHITEHEAD
Ex Canary full back Nick Whitehead who played 11 times for Hitchin between 1964 and 1966 was featured in the Sun newspaper this week. The story said that ” a footie-mad grandad has spent £6,000 building a memorabilia museum in his garden shed”. 76 year old Nick is still a regular visitor to Top Field and the article said he had 500 boots, balls, trophies and programmes. He said he needed a hobby to stay sane during lockdown and wanted the display at his home in Sandy to show his grandchildren’s generation how different sport was when he was a lad. Nick said that after lockdown he would open up his collection to the public and donate to charity.

FACE MASKS AND BAR SCARVES
Please do not forget that we have Face Masks and Bar Scarves now on sale online. The face masks costing £7 plus postage are of a better quality than the first range we bought back in the summer. There is little doubt face masks will be needed well in to the new year so why not buy your Hitchin Town face masks now.

The bar scarves, which we sold at the Solihull Moors FA Cup game a couple of seasons back (yes it really is two years since then), remain at £6, plus postage. Please be aware that at the current time, these are only available from our Online Shop. It is expected that delivery will take between 7-14 days from placement of order.

The link to the Merchandise sales page in the shop is available here.

BY ROY IZZARD