It is that dreaded time of year for football fans. Whilst summer is soon to be upon us meteorogically, footballistically, we about to enter the deepest, darkest depths of winter. The post season hibernation period which this season runs until August has begun for non-league football fans.
What better time to reflect on an astonishingly rocky rollercoaster of a season for Hitchin Town?
With various splurges of consecutive defeats for the Canaries, followed by runs of successive victories on the trot, it really was a paradoxical campaign for the boys in yellow and green. At times they appeared disconsolate and without any attacking ambition, whilst at other moments the team seemed capable of beating anyone on their day. Table-toppers Stourbridge and play-off winners Kings Lynn Town were handsomely overcome most memorably at Top Field.
Yet, whilst this Jekyll & Hyde side was nothing if not consistently inconsistent, there were a number of solid performers who remained competitive throughout even the darkest of times on the field. With that in mind, I would like to begin my highly UNOFFICIAL end of season awards!
Player Of The Season – Isaac Galliford
The easiest decision to make. Galliford demonstrated a level of skill and technique all season long that is rarely seen at Step 3 level. His movement from a wide-left position into the number 10 role by manager Mark Burke early on was a real masterstroke, as Galliford began to paint pictures on the Top Field turf with his wand of a left foot. 17 goals too from midfield for a struggling team is nothing to be sniffed at!
Goal Of The Season – Scott Belgrove vs Tring (Herts Senior Cup – November 2018)
Galliford hit a number of long range wonder strikes but, in the interests of balance, I would like to acknowledge Belgrove’s stunning volleyed strike that really was unstoppable. Max Ryan’s left footed effort from outside the box at home to Bedworth was also worthy of a mention.
Most Improved Player – Jack Green
For his adaptability and flexibility to adjust to a new position at right-back, I would like to recognise the excellent season had by Jack Green. Green, who largely played at right-wing or attacking midfield the previous campaign, slotted in comfortably to the right-back role after an early injury to Macsen Fraser. Green became a progressively more solid defender as the season developed and also remained an attacking threat – notching the winner in the memorable FA Cup tie away to Leatherhead.
Game of The Season – Hitchin Town vs Solihull Moors (Emirates FA Cup – November 2018)
A personally enjoyable highlight was the 5-1 home trouncing of Halesowen, purely for the goals scored in the atrocious conditions. There really is nothing like getting home to a nice warm cup of tea after seeing your home side win handsomely in the pouring rain! Or maybe that’s just me! The Kings Lynn 3-0 and Stourbridge 2-1 home victories also deserve to be highlighted.
The ultimate award though, has to go to the Solihull Emirates FA Cup First Round tie at a bustling Top Field. A crowd of 3,148 watched on as the BBC television cameras covered the game. This really did put the spring back into the club, despite the narrow 0-2 defeat.
Worst Performance Of The Season: Hitchin Town vs Biggleswade Town (Southern League – December 2018)
The FA Trophy First Round defeat at home to Hayes & Yeading was atrocious. A 1-0 loss flattered Hitchin, as it was abundantly clear that the team had their eyes on a bigger prize – the FA Cup run. It was very much “…After the Lord Mayor’s Show” as key players were rested and the performance reflected this.
Even more disappointing for myself though was the 2-0 home loss to Biggleswade Town on Boxing Day. With so many ex-Canaries in the Waders’ ranks it was so frustrating to be comfortably beaten. It felt on the day that one club was on the up and one was on the down.
Best Permanent Signing – Lewis Ferrell
Once more in attempt to remain balanced and to ensure the stupendous performances of Galliford do not result in a farcical monopoly of my highly prestigious end of season awards, I would like to award this gong to Lewis Ferrell. Although our defence had it’s off-days, the partnership between Ferrell and captain Dan Webb was largely very solid. It often felt like we had two captains on the field. And who can forget Ferrell’s memorable headed goal at home to Hastings in the FA Cup?!
Best Loan Signing – Noah Chesmain
I could have awarded this to striker Harry Draper, who made a huge impact on arrival on loan from Stevenage. However, Draper did leave for near neighbours Biggleswade after making an excellent but brief stay. Therefore, it is probably more accurate to recognise the longevity of the contribution of left-back Noah Chesmain.
Chesmain joined Hitchin in September from Colchester United, and immediately assisted on his home debut. Noah never looked back from that day on and offered the team a real balance with his sweet left foot and composure on the ball. What a joy it would be to see him back at the club next season! Here’s hoping Burke can pull another rabbit out of the hat.
BY NICK KELSALL
Finally, thank you to Nick Kelsall for his ten ‘View from the Terraces’ articles this season, which have proved very popular with the Canaries faithful. The first nine have been read 2,699 times, so this final edition should take him over the 3k mark. A real insightful piece, many thanks for your dedication in producing this fantastic copy Nick.