FIXTURES
The league season remains suspended. The Southern League Board issued the following statement on Thursday:

“The Southern League Board has met following the latest Government review and they have unanimously agreed to continue with the pause of the 2020/21 season.

Since the initial survey on the 2nd December the infection rate has deteriorated in the geographical footprint of our Member Clubs, which has resulted in a larger number of Southern League Clubs being placed in Tier 3. In reaching this decision the Board considered several factors such as the lack of income from secondary spend revenue, the reduced attendances at Tier 3 clubs and more importantly, the duty of care the league has to Players, Club Officials, Volunteers and Supporters during this current pandemic.

The Board will continue to monitor the situation in line with the Government review dates and/or any decision that allows Government grants to become available to member clubs. The Board has not yet set a formal re-start date but this is unlikely to be before the 9th January 2021 and the Clubs will be given at least 10 days’ notice of the recommencement of the 2020/21 season allowing them preparation time to stage League matches.

It is also noted that the Isthmian League are taking a similar approach with their Member Clubs.”

MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE

PETERBOROUGH SPORTS

I felt we started the game with Peterborough Sports very well but we were punished for a mistake which allowed Peterborough to take the lead. I thought we responded in a positive fashion and had some good opportunities to level the scores. Another error though saw us concede a second goal just before half time. It is ironic that the timing of the goals was very similar to those we scored against Mickleover and indeed the first half mirrored that game when Mickleover played really well but trailed by two goals at half time.

We told the players at half time do not get down and not to panic as we had played some good football and the score line was harsh. We knew the next goal would be critical and we came out for the second half in determined fashion. Unfortunately their goalkeeper made a great save from Luke Brown and then the referee denied us what looked a cast iron penalty. The video would appear to confirm it was a clear penalty and had it been given we could have got back in the game. As it was we were further punished by another clinical finish and this took the game away from us. The fourth goal gave a gloss to the score line that we did not deserve.

As I said earlier this game was a mirror image of the Mickleover game with us replicating Mickleover and Peterborough Sports replicating us in the way a harsh score line did not reflect the true nature of the game. Peterborough probably scored four out of only six attempts.

Overall I was very pleased with the performance and the effort if not the result. I look forward to the league games with Peterborough Sports who certainly looked an impressive team. They have built a good experienced team over a number of years and have benefitted from continuity and I wish them the best in the next round.

THE FUTURE
It is very difficult to plan for the future with the league still suspended and uncertainty over when it may resume. We will continue to train up to Christmas and then await further news before deciding what to do after that. All clubs are in the same situation and it is the uncertainty that is so difficult to cope with.

CHRISTMAS WISHES
On behalf of the players and management I wish all our supporters a very merry Christmas and prosperous new year.

CANARIES ON LOAN
Kye Tearle and Marcus Goldbourne played for Potton on Tuesday and will also play for them on Saturday where ironically they will face goalkeeper Josh Mollison who has just finished his loan spell at Potton and moved to Eynesbury. These games keep the players match fit and it is a very worthwhile exercise.

MERCHANDISE
Many thanks to our supporters who have bought merchandise online since the start of the season. Sales have passed £1,100 and you can still buy shirts,scarves, badges, books and masks. With Hertfordshire now in Tier 3 masks will be needed more than ever. The link to the Merchandise sales page in the shop is https://hitchintownfc.ktckts.com/brand/merchandise

A YEAR TO FORGET
To most of us the year 2020 cannot end quickly enough. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s life and it has played havoc with the football programme. The 2019/20 season was declared null and void and who knows if we will finish this season. Financially it has been crippling with the bar shut for long periods and football income being spasmodic. On top of this we have lost far too many long term supporters and officials who have sadly passed away this year.

But to try and be more upbeat it has not been all doom and gloom. Our Crowdfunder appeal proved an incredible success and to raise £61,000 exceeded all expectation and indeed was the highest ever amount raised by a non-league club. It showed what great supporters we have and I again thank everybody who donated. The essential work needed at Top Field has already begun and will continue in to the new year.

We also had great help from a number of volunteers through the shutdowns and beyond which helped to tidy up Top Field. Again I thank every volunteer for all their hard work.

We should also be proud of our response to the Covid-19 virus. Under the leadership of our Covid officer David Tudball I think we went beyond what may have been required to provide the safest possible environment for supporters.

The Cow Commoners Trust have not always had a great press from the football club but this year they proved to be the best possible landlords. Understanding the financial difficulties we faced they made the generous offer of successive rent free quarters which as treasurer was most welcome news and I again thank the trustees for their support.

We also have a team that is developing and looking to play attractive football. They will only get better and it has been encouraging to see a big increase in attendances at the games we have been able to play including a full house against Royston.

So despite Covid there have been reasons to be cheerful and on behalf of the committee I wish all supporters a safe and peaceful Christmas and a better and more optimistic 2021.

BY ROY IZZARD