THE NEW NORMAL?
On Thursday Hitchin played their first game since the Covid-19 pandemic saw the 2019/20 season suspended. Things were certainly different and there will certainly be a ”new normal” in the foreseeable future. The first pre-season friendly was a visit to our old friends Letchworth Garden City Eagles but new protocols that are in place meant it was a different experience to what we are used to. Ahead of the game we had to submit a list to Letchworth of all our players, management and officials attending the game with their contact details to meet Track and Trace regulations. Strictly no supporters were allowed to attend.
Manager Mark Burke asked the whole squad to report to the Arena where players were allocated which dressing room to use to get changed with a maximum of six players allowed in at any one time. The players then moved outside to the main stand where Mark and his coaching team announced the two separate teams that would each play 45 minutes. He also went through the tactics and team shape with the players socially distanced at all times.
The players then drove to the Letchworth ground where they were allowed to put their bags in the dressing room but again only six at a time. Our physio team were very restricted in what they were able to do before the kick-off because of new regulations that have to be adhered to.
The team for the first half then had a warm-up on the pitch while the second half team had a training session with Damon Lathrope and Josh Bickerstaff. Mark went through set pieces on the pitch for the two teams before the start of each half as the dressing rooms could not be used and the players were socially distanced at all times.
Then the game started and at last football could be played! The first half team won 5-0 and the second half team 3-1 in an 8-1 victory. After the games the players could not use the showers at Letchworth which was a shame as a violent thunderstorm just before the end of the game left everyone drenched! Instead they either went back to the Arena or straight home.
In time the new regulations will become more familiar but at the moment it is an unusual scenario and the lack of supporters is the hardest pill to swallow. Let us hope the authorities allow spectators to return at the earliest opportunity.
As many of you will be aware, all Clubs at our level are required to produce and publish a Risk Assessment and publish this, demonstrating how all identified risks will be mitigated and managed.
Hitchin Town FC’s Risk Assessment for Spectators and the Ground is now published. You can access and download the Risk Assessment from our website by clicking here. A separate Risk Assessment for Players and Playing Staff will follow.
This Risk Assessment will be subject to constant review.
Unfortunately Josh has had to retire because of injury. I will be paying full tribute to Josh and will look back on his career in an in depth article that will be on our social media outlets in the near future.
MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE
I was really pleased with the performances of both teams at Letchworth. I thought it showed we are heading in the right direction and the players looked sharp and hungry. I am pleased with the fact that there will be real competition for places and I am really looking forward to the next game at Leverstock Green.
We will continue to work hard and we will not get carried away with just one performance.
I was sad to learn that Josh Bickerstaff has had to announce his retirement due to injury. I would like to thank Josh for his excellent service to the club over many seasons. I am pleased to say that Josh will join my back room staff and will look after our development squad. They will play some friendlies and the players may go on loan or have dual registrations. Josh will monitor these players and hopefully prepare them for the first team.
HTFC RADIO BY FREDDIE CARDY
This season is unlike any other. With the FA standing firm on behind-closed-doors matches, radio commentary is the closest thing to being at the game.
Many Canaries supporters will have listened to our commentaries on North Herts Radio across the last two seasons, but from this season every commentary will be on HTFC Radio, the all-new, independent platform that has been created by Marac Alionic and Freddie Cardy.
To listen to HTFC Radio, you can either:
- Download the Zeno Radio App and search for ‘HTFC Radio’.
- Visit the Zeno website using this link: https://zeno.fm/htfc-radio/#.Xxsk_mF-wzQ.link
Make sure to follow our social media platforms so you never miss a commentary.
Freddie and Marac have also started the Canary Club podcast, which is available on all podcast platforms: https://anchor.fm/canaryclubpodcast. During the week Mark Burke was interviewed and this is now available to view.
We hope you enjoy the commentaries which will start at Leverstock Green on Tuesday.
GROUND REPORT BY STEVE BARKER
Today was almost a complete washout. Who would have thought that after many dry weeks we would have that amount of rain in August, and on a Saturday!
We didn’t cut the pitch in the heavy rain so that will be done Wednesday. Some work was done on erecting the fence which started last week before a halt was called.
All the seats and benches in the main stand were cleaned and the ladies toilets too. Hopefully we have a dry day next Saturday.
BY ROY IZZARD