FIXTURES
We will return from the lockdown with two friendlies before our FA Trophy tie with Mickleover. On Thursday 3 December we will play Colchester Under 23’s in a friendly at Top Field. Kick-off will be 7.15pm and as usual tickets must be bought online. Prices will be £6 for adults, £4 for concessions and £1 for teenagers. Season ticket holders will have free entry. Then on Saturday 5 December we will either play a friendly or have another internal game like the yellows versus greens match before the lockdown. This will take place at the Arena with an 11.00am kick-off. There will be free entry for this game.

The FA Trophy game with Mickleover will be played on Tuesday 8 December kick-off 7.45pm. Normal prices will apply and tickets must be bought online. The FA ruled that we could not play this game on our normal Monday evening.

MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE
I have spent a lot of time over the last week thinking about how best to manage the return to action after the lockdown ends on 2 December. There were various options ahead of our first competitive game against Mickleover on Tuesday 8 December. I could have had training sessions akin to pre-season schedules to gain extra fitness for the players. But I decided that I could trust the players to have kept their fitness levels during the lockdown and the only way to get match fitness is to play games. I therefore decided to have friendlies on the Thursday and Saturday before the Mickleover game.

I originally hoped to play Hendon on the Thursday but this fell through and instead I was offered the chance to play Colchester Under 23’s. We have a really good relationship with Colchester and have loaned a number of their players. It should be an attractive and competitive game. I will not play players for the full 90 minutes-probably no more than an hour at most. We may well be playing against Jake Hutchinson who scored a number of goals for us last season but unfortunately Diogo Fritas-Gouveia has suffered a cruciate ligament injury and is out long term.

I am going to either arrange another friendly for Saturday 8 December or may possibly have another internal friendly like the yellows versus greens game before the lockdown. This will be at the Arena. After the two friendlies we will hopefully be as ready as possible for the Mickleover game.

MIN BIRDSEY
We sadly lost another of our long time supporters this week with the death of Min Birdsey. She was a regular supporter for many years, usually sitting with her sister Rowena who kindly wrote the following tribute to Min:

We are sad to announce the death of Min Birdsey, a long time supporter of Hitchin Town Football Club , who died of cancer aged 73 after a short illness.

Min was the daughter of Don Birdsey who was involved with the Club for all his life, serving as Chairman and programme editor. It was from him that she got her love of the club and Min went to home and away fixtures from a very early age. Indeed, she used to talk about the good old days of the Terry Craddock, Terry Waldock, Roger Figg era which got us to the semi finals of the Amateur Cup in 1961. Her particular favourite was Dennis Randall.

The next era she fondly recalled was when the front line was Cutler, Gogan and Giggle – another good era for the club in the late 60s/early 70s.

Min was a journalist, later a Press Officer, and her first job after leaving university was with the Hitchin Pictorial (now the Comet). Indeed Min reported on Hitchin matches for the paper under the byline A J Birdsey because the editor was not sure that the readers were quite ready for a woman reporter on football!!

Min then moved to London to take up a role as a Press Officer with the Labour Party. This was an exciting time because Labour was in power under Harold Wilson and Min was involved in writing party political broadcasts and indeed she wrote a published brief history of the Labour Party. She also acted as Press Officer during various by-elections, including the one that saw Betty Boothroyd returned to Parliament for the first time in 1973.

Min remained in London for the rest of her working life, and it wasn’t until she returned to live in Hitchin in 2004 that she once more became a regular at Top Field. Indeed she went to all the home games only stopping this season when her health deteriorated. However, she continued to follow the fortunes of the Club by listening to the live broadcasts on North Herts Radio and HTFC Radio.

CROWDFUNDER UPDATE BY PAUL SPRAGUE
This week has seen another major task being completed as part of our Crowdfunder improvement works. The old tea bar at the rear of the main stand has been demolished. Unfortunately this building had deteriorated beyond repair and needed to be removed for safety reasons. Thanks to B and D Civil Engineering, Stuart Jones Roofing and Parks Electrical who have all worked together over the past two weeks to undertake these works. Watch out for photos on our Social Media. To facilitate the demolition the ground staff have been erecting the new storage shed – this has taken many hours of work but should be completed this week.

Other maintenance tasks have been ongoing over the last week including refurbishment to the turnstiles, painting of stands and ongoing maintenance activities.

Finally, when we welcome everyone back to Top Field, look out for our new sponsors pitch side advertising boards. These are being produced for each of the runners up from our main stand sponsor draw. Make sure you give your support to all these great local businesses.

ACADEMY UPDATE BY MICHAEL JONES
We have played a few extra games in our in house Pro Direct tournament since the last update, with Josh Mollison’s team having a good two wins meaning he has gone from last place to 1st in the table!! We hope to have a finish to this fun tournament at the end of next week and I will be able to let everyone know the winners, all I can say at the moment is its going to be a close one.

We have also had a slight break from our tournament games programme this week. We have increased our training to work on a few things before we re -start our official competitive league games programme on Wednesday 9 December 2020. This is when our National Youth Alliance team travel to Norwich City Cambs RDP with our SCL team playing against West Ham Chadwell Blues. These games will be subject to FA and government guidance.

We continue to work towards our next trial event which is Monday 21 December 2020. If you are interested in attending this or for further information on what we offer please contact – hitchin@prodirectacademy.com

MICHAEL JONES
You will have seen that Michael Jones now provides regular updates on the college programme for the bulletin. He is the head of recruitment for the college programme but also helps out with the first team. I interviewed Michael last week and I think you will find he has a really interesting story to share and you will be impressed with how he has fought back against adversity to continue his football career. The interview will go on all our social media outlets on Sunday.

FACE MASKS AND BAR SCARVES
Please do not forget that we have Face Masks and Bar Scarves now on sale online.

The face masks costing £7 plus postage are of a better quality than the first range we bought back in the summer. There is little doubt face masks will be needed well in to the new year so why not buy your Hitchin Town face masks now.

The bar scarves, which we sold at the Solihull Moors FA Cup game a couple of seasons back (yes it really is two years since then), remain at £6, plus postage.

Please be aware that at the current time, these are only available from our Online Shop.

It is expected that delivery will take between 7-14 days from placement of order.

The link to the Merchandise sales page in the shop is available here.

EASYFUNDRAISING BY RUPERT RUSSELL

I wonder whether you might be able to give the Easyfundraising scheme a quick push before footballing hostilities hopefully resume in a couple of weeks? Although the scheme does seem to fly under the radar it has raised over £2,000 for the club since we joined and with on-line purchasing likely to continue apace while the virus is with us a bit of extra publicity might just bring in some new supporters.

If you could use the link below, anyone signing up and raising £5 will earn an extra £5 for the club and as I’m sure you know by now, it doesn’t cost people an extra penny to earn free money for the club – here is the link.

BY ROY IZZARD