CROWDFUNDER UPDATE
We are now three weeks in to our Canary Crisis Fund Crowdfunder appeal and we are edging nearer to our revised £50,000 target having now reached £42,000. The support has been magnificent and I make no apologies for again thanking everyone who has donated. Donations have ranged from £1 to £5,000 but every penny counts. Indeed the essential repair work on the roof of the main stand has already been completed and paid in full thanks to your donations. We are now able to carry out the other repairs that are needed to ensure we pass our next ground grading and therefore avoid relegation which would result if we failed the grading visit.

Our local MP Bim Ofolami took time off from his busy parliamentary schedule this week to allow me to interview him. In the interview Bim explains how important Hitchin Town FC is to the local community and how delighted he is that our Crowdfunder appeal has been so successful. He made a donation himself to show his support. The interview will appear on our social media platforms over the weekend.

Teddy Donnelly is nearing the £1,000 mark for his sponsored walk around Top Field which will take place on Sunday 27 September. This is a great achievement as his target was just £500! You can support Teddy by using the following link.

I am still hopeful that BBC Look East will feature our Crowdfunder appeal next week. Please look for more details on our social media platforms.

RETURN TO TOP FIELD
It was so good to return to Top Field on Thursday for our first home friendly of the season. Many congratulations to Steve Barker and his team of helpers for producing such an excellent playing surface and to all the volunteers who have been working so hard over the last month to present Top Field in the best light possible.

It was the first test of our new Covid-19 protocols and early indications are that everything went very smoothly. I must thank all the supporters who embraced the new regulations so well and made it easy for our stewards. It can sometimes be forgotten just how much common sense is shown by 99% of people and how adaptable they are to the changes that have been necessitated.

I must particularly thank our Covid-19 officer David Tudball for the exceptional amount of work he put in to ensuring the success of our new protocols while Chris Newbold and Kate Deller have also gone above and beyond what we could have expected.

Can I remind you all that tickets must be purchased online before the game as you will not be able to pay at the gate anymore. This message seems to be getting home and it would appear even less technically minded supporters are finding ways to obtain their tickets.

HITCHIN NUB NEWS
Layth Yousif has started a new project called Hitchin Nub News which is a news website that gets to the heart of the Hitchin community. It can be found on Twitter.

Layth is kindly featuring many articles about Hitchin Town FC so many thanks for the extra publicity and it is well worth seeking out Hitchin Nub News.

RIZZLE KICKS STAR PLAYS FOR CANARIES
Our team against Harpenden included a famous hip-hop star making his debut. Harley ”Sylvester” Alexander-Sule played in central defence and he was half of the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks. They were based in Brighton and have sold over 1 million singles and 600,000 albums in the UK. Since 2015, Alexander-Sule has released music under the stage name Jimi Charles Moody.

It has to be said that Harley had an excellent game and it will be interesting to see if he becomes part of our squad.

MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE

ST NEOTS TOWN

St Neots proved a tough test for us and I was happy with our overall performance. St Neots started the game well and put us on the back foot. Charlie Horlock made a couple of very good saves to preserve our clean sheet before we got ourselves in to the game. We passed the ball well and created chances up to the break and a 0-0 scoreline was a fair reflection of the first half.

We started the second half better than the first and took the lead from a penalty that was conceded after a well worked free kick. I did laugh when Luke Brown was outranked by the seniority of Layne Eadie as to who would take the penalty. It was pleasing to see Brownie’s disappointment at not being able to take the penalty as he wanted to score so desperately. I am sure his time will come when he will be able to take a penalty.

I felt this contest was the nearest to a league game to date and I thank St Neots for their hospitality and wish them good luck for the season.

HARPENDEN TOWN

It was great to return to Top Field and play in front of our loyal supporters. This game gave me the chance to give full games to those players who have not played so many minutes in the pre-season games so far. It also allowed me to give more experience to our young players coming through from our college programme. I was also able to look at a couple of trialists including Harvey Alexander-Sukle from Rizzle Kicks who did not put a foot wrong.

We scored some good goals and dominated throughout the game. I was also pleased to hear our Covid-19 regulations worked so well and that as I expected our supporters acted with complete common sense. Thanks again to Harpenden and I wish them a successful season.

COACH TRAVEL
Another consequence of Covid-19 is that we are now limited in the number of people who can travel on our coaches to away games and unfortunately this will mean we will not be able to accommodate supporters until the restrictions are lifted. We are really sorry about this as we really appreciate the loyal support we have received at away games in recent seasons but the virus has caused so many changes to what used to be the normal way of doing things.

GROUND REPORT BY STEVE BARKER
This week we had the asbestos roof on part of the main stand replaced with a green steel one by our roofing contractor so now it’s watertight again.

Pitch preparation for the Thursday friendly against Harpenden commenced Tuesday evening when I “combed” and brushed the grass (yes we do comb the grass). Wednesday morning it was cut in one direction with our ride on Mastiff mower removing 20 boxes of grass cuttings. On Thursday I took a day off work to cut the pitch in the other direction taking off another 6 boxes.

Then I marked the lines before going home at 4-30pm for a shower and some food, then returned around 5.30 to put the goal nets and back posts up with the help of one of my team.
After the game these were taken down again in readiness for more grass cutting which started at 8am today, Saturday. Believe it or not but it had grown an inch since the cutting on Thursday!

Once that was completed we put our irrigation on as we didn’t get any rain this week. The irrigation was turned off around 2pm and hoses and sprinklers removed with the nets again put down.Irrigation was deployed after the Barnet game to come on by the timer overnight.

I would again like to thank our brilliant volunteers for their assistance yet again.

NEW VOICES ON THE TANNOY BY FREDDIE CARDY

Many an eager ear would have noticed a different voice over the Top Field airwaves in the Harpenden Town and Barnet games. With popular announcer Archie Summerhayes off to university, it was time for him to pass the microphone down to some younger voices- not one, but two of them.

Rowan and Finn Scourfield have been walking through the Top Field turnstiles since they were 5 and 3 years old respectively. They still have the programme of their first ever game – March the 12th 2011. A local derby, with Callum Donnelly facing his brother Brett in a Hitchin vs Biggleswade grudge match. Since then, both Scourfields have worked their way up through the Canaries youth teams, with Rowan starting the 2020/21 season playing for the under 16s and Finn the under 14s.

The lives of both of the Hitchin youngsters are firmly split between football and music, with Finn taking full advantage of his musical parents by learning the guitar and piano as well as singing. The brothers have shared a stage many times in various bands and musical projects, and Rowan took things to a whole new level this year by writing and recording his debut album at home during the coronavirus lockdown, and I hear that a second album is not too far away.

From a personal perspective, I am firm friends with both brothers, and I have known Rowan for longer than I can remember. I have many fond memories of watching Hitchin games with both brothers in the Top Field stands, but my commentary exploits have separated us for many games over the last few years. We are now reunited up in the media section, and their arrival is an addition to a media team that is already thriving in what has been a difficult year for everybody.

So make sure to listen out on your next visit to Top Field, because the Scourfield brothers simply love to have a microphone in their hands and a Hitchin match in front of them.

BY ROY IZZARD