We’ve recently been passed the following news article, written by two teenage boys in the local area. Both Patrick Sloan (of North Herts FM commentary team fame) and Louis Condon are season ticket holders at Top Field and chose to write the following piece for their school (Hitchin Boys’ School) newspaper.
It’s a great read, a nice reminder to us all about the benefits of our club and most importantly, fantastic to see the next generation of football supporters enjoying the game at this level. Well done lads!
£25 in the context of modern football doesn’t get you much. Neymar cost 8 million times this amount, it is 1.5% of what Cristiano Ronaldo makes an hour and only enough to buy you a pie, a drink and a match day programme at an England game at Wembley. £25 is the price of a season ticket for a 13-19-year-old to get into Top Field to watch Hitchin Town FC for all 21 home games this season. At nearly 36 times cheaper than a season ticket to watch Arsenal at the Emirates and 30 times cheaper to watch Chelsea all year at Stamford Bridge, YOUR local team Hitchin Town FC are showing exactly why Non–League football is keeping the legacy of the beautiful game going.
Many of you are probably thinking that the reason that it is cheap is because the quality is poor but that is where you are wrong. Now, more than ever before, more players are moving through non-league to the highest level. Jamie Vardy, Charlie Austin and Ian Wright all played at levels of semi-pro football, with Ian Wright even playing Sunday League until the age of 21 – the next Premier League champion could be about to take to the pitch at Hitchin.
Hitchin Town FC (nicknamed the Canaries) was founded in 1865 and then reformed in 1928 and were one of the 8 teams to compete in the first FA Cup. They were also the first away team to win away at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. Hitchin now play in the Southern Central Premier League in the 7th tier of English Football where they have consistently flirted with promotion over recent years, reaching the playoff finals two seasons ago.
They play at the historic and charming Top Field on Fishponds Road (opposite Hitchin Swimming Pool), a unique stadium that 1,500 fans and residents successfully campaigned to save in 2014, when plans emerged to sell off the land and move the club out of town. A huge march through the town centre was the centrepiece of the Save Top Field campaign. This episode illustrated the affection with which the club is regarded as a symbol of the town. But, it also showed how easily this local institution could be lost.
An average of 450 supporters attend home games but, unlike the avalanche of money at the top of the game, finances are eternally tight at non-league level and manager, Mark Burke and his team do a remarkable job to keep the club afloat in a league of much wealthier clubs.
So, why attend a game?
- No reserved seating, no bird’s eye view requiring binoculars to follow the action. Stand with your mates, switch ends at half time so you always get the best view, or whatever view you want.
- Burger, chips and a drink for £4.
- Pride in your community. Why support a team from London when you can have pride in your hometown? – that’s what football is all about.
- Ticket prices for 13-19 year olds on the gate are just £2, which is 15 times cheaper than the average premier league ticket.
These are just a few of the reasons to come on down to Top Field to support your local club
You can also speak to players and manager – not superstars just normal people who are equally friendly face-to-face and engage with fans on social media.
In a survey of boys in the school we found that over 80% of boys supported a premier league team but only around 12% had seen a game in the past month or so, which is a sad but not massively surprising statistic, considering the distance and prices for top tier games.
Don’t let football just be a TV programme, support your local club, Hitchin Town FC.
BY PATRICK SLOAN AND LOUIS CONDON