Once again thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket in the latest 50/50 draw which raised £227.20 for Hitchin Town FC, £227.20 for the winner and £113.60 for the East & North Hertfordshire Hospitals Charity.

Across the four draws run so far we have now sold 3,929 tickets and this has meant we have raised no less than £1571.60 for Hitchin Town FC, £785.80 for the East & North Hertfordshire Hospitals Charity and given away £1571.60 in prize money. Thank you again for your wonderful support – it’s brilliant!

We’ll be running this online draw again in early August, which will once again take place live on Twitter, with a new draw time of 7pm sharp.

There was a well deserved winner of this month’s draw and congratulations are due to John Burke. John is Mark’s father and is a great supporter of Hitchin Town FC. He has always closely followed Mark’s career. He used to transport him to training when Mark was at Luton and QPR and has always watched as many games as possible. When Mark joined Hitchin John became a regular supporter at Top Field. The Burke family are very close and I have been lucky to get to know them very well and John is a true gentleman.

John told me that in his early career he would feel anxious when watching Mark but felt more relaxed as he moved in to senior football. He said that Mark always had high standards and did not take losing games very well. John is very proud of Mark’s football career and was supportive when Mark became Hitchin manager. He felt Mark was a deep thinker about the game and was very knowledgeable and thought Mark was right to take the managerial job, particularly as he is able to keep things in perspective.

John has really enjoyed his thirty plus years supporting Hitchin. He likes the special atmosphere around the club and feels the fact that past players often return and keep in touch reflects this. He has always felt welcome and tells me he has met some fantastic people on and off the pitch. He considers the Hereford and Bristol Rovers FA Cup games the most memorable that he has seen.

John became groundsman for one season in the 1980’s and despite being over 80 he still does maintenance work at the Arena so is a true club man. Despite being Mark’s father and despite the fact that he could get a free season ticket because of his age John still insists on buying a season ticket–he said he is just happy to help the club out. So I think you would agree John is a more than worthy winner of the 50/50 draw.

I was really sad when I saw that Brett Donnelly had decided to hang up his boots and had chosen to concentrate on his coaching career. At the age of 38 Brett told me he did not want to carry on for one season too many and would rather bow out at the top. He ended up playing a number of games last year and certainly did not let us down. But he knew it was getting harder and did not want to drop down to a lower level of football. He told me how proud he was to play for Hitchin and how much he had enjoyed it but he now wants to be full time on the management side and feels now he is no longer a player this could help on the coaching side.

What I always liked about Brett was his honesty. He would be the first to say that he had limited ability but he made the most of what he did have and carved out a career that more talented players failed to achieve. He was an honest workhorse who always gave 100% and managers knew what they were getting with Brett. He was in fact a very clever player and despite his reputation offered so much more than he was given credit for.

He was obviously no saint and his disciplinary record was fairly horrendous which he is quick to acknowledge. Many of his red cards were deserved but I remain convinced that referees dealt far more harshly with Brett than other players as his reputation went before him. I am sure plenty of referees and centre backs are more than happy Brett is retiring as their lives will be easier! But local football will certainly be a duller place without Brett.

But Brett was well respected by his team mates and opposition players and management. The midland clubs in particular appreciated the qualities Brett brought to the game. Brett was one of a dying breed of old fashioned attackers and was a great character, larger than life wearing his heart on his sleeve. He played 205 games for Hitchin scoring 52 goals having made his first appearance in December 2007.

Brett has become famous for his humorous blogs and I could not let his retirement pass without requesting him to pick up his pen (or keyboard) to produce a special retirement blog and I am happy to say he has agreed so watch out for this appearing shortly.

So thanks for the memories Brett and good luck in your managerial/coaching career.

There has still been no firm news from the Southern League regarding the 2020/21 season but with the government now allowing more sport to commence hopefully we will learn more shortly. Mark Burke has agreed the training schedule which will be adapted if necessary when the commencement of the season is known.

We had a very productive day today and I would like to thank all the volunteers that came along, there were about 18 or so which was great to see.

We filled a 12 yard skip and it was amazing what had accumulated around the ground. Another skip is required as there’s a lot more to go away and hopefully we can do the same again next Saturday from 9-30 am.

The side of the tractor shed was completed today and also painted green.

The pitch was cut again and is growing at the rate of 18mm a day with all the rain that’s fallen on it.

Weeds were treated around the pitch and pathways and paths were cleaned up.

There’s still loads to do before we play again, whenever that is so any help you give us would be much appreciated.

This coming week I have to meet our floodlight company late one evening so they can do a light reading test of our lights ( how bright they are) as required by the League and FA.

Don’t forget the Canary Club is now open again. The early feedback is that customers have been very impressed by the work we have done to make Canary Club as safe as possible with measures to ensure social distancing, extra cleaning of toilets and provision of hand sanitisers. Why not see for yourselves as the garden has also had a good tidy up.