Hitchin Town FC
The past, present, and future of Hitchin Town FC.
The legendary Top Field, situated between Fishponds Road (A505) and Bedford Road (A600) is home to the venerable Hitchin Town FC. Forming part of the upper boundary of the town centre, it’s in close proximity to Hitchin Swimming Pool and Butts Close.
Hitchin Town FC – The Early Years
Hitchin’s football legacy can be traced back as far as 1865, when Hitchin FC was formed. Without a fixed ground, early matches were played on Butts Close, Hitchin Cricket Ground, and Dog Kennel Farm in Charlton. The club gained some success, reaching the quarter finals of the very first FA Cup (held 1871 – 1872), and becoming the first ever away team to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 1905, but ultimately suffered due to overwhelming debt problems. In 1911 the club was declared bankrupt; it would be a further 17 years before football returned to Hitchin.
On May 2nd 1928, the first ripple of conversation began in the depths of the Angel Vaults public house (located on Sun Street) about creating a new football club. It was agreed from the offset that players would not get paid (one of reasons accredited to Hitchin FC’s demise), opting to operate as a purely amateur outfit. The colours were chosen (yellow and blue (later green) – giving rise to the name ‘The Canaries’), a deal was struck with the Junior Imperial League (or ‘Imps’) athletic club to sub-let their Bedford Road (Top Field) ground for £30 a year, and a football team was born!
Over the years, the team competed in the Spartan League (1928 – 1939), Athenian League (1945 – 1963), Isthmian League (1963 – 2004), and Southern League (2004 – 2013).
The Top Field resides on land entrusted as common land, and whose use has been http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/anti-inflammatories/ overseen by The Cow Commoners since 1880. This unelected body of prominent figures (known as the Cow Commoners Trust (CCT)) from the town was created to ensure adequate grazing space for cattle, and decided that the land should be reserved for charitable use. The club managed to retain good relations with the CCT over the years, allowing permanent facilities to be built on the site, subject to an annually renewable lease.
However, in the 1990’s the CCT’s attitude changed, opposing any renovation to the much-dilapidated buildings. A legal battle that followed, but has ultimately stifled any hope of work being carried out any time soon. Presently, the facilities are as much the same as they were back in the early days – the 450-seater grandstand being of 1928 vintage! The land was de-registered as common land in 2012, following an application put forward in 2011 (on the grounds that the land was never subject to the right of common), but still remains the property of the CCT.
The Tesco Debacle
Between 2012 and 2014 there was a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the club would remain at the historic Top Field site, due to Tesco’s interest in developing the land for a new supermarket. This movement (which was met with a great deal of local opposition) would have seen the club relocated to a new ground either on Green Belt land near St. Ippolyts, or Stevenage Road on the other side of town. By December 2014 news filtered through that this would not be the case, and the Hitchin Town FC currently have a lease on the ground until 2039.
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