Top Field plight featured in “When Saturday Comes”

wscHitchin Town’s struggles over Top Field are featured in the left-field football publication When Saturday Comes (WSC) this month.

The article, written by John Carter, reviews the recent public meeting and the Cow Commoners’ involvement: “Making a rare public appearance, three nervous trustees attempted to justify their actions to the raucous audience.”

Judy Billing, local councillor, is quoted, saying that the Cow Commoners “have for many years wasted money in pointless litigation”. WSC says that the terms of the trust won’t allow them [the Cow Commoners] to sell Top Field, but they contend it can be swapped.

Amid this murky story, WSC, attempting to explain the Cow Commoners, adds: “Secretiveness males it difficult to determine whether the trustees are naïve, arrogant, desperate or just incompetent.”

Top Field, says the article, is “older than the current club, older then the Cow Commoners Trust, older perhaps than the codified game itself.”

Carter makes a good point in that many people see this issue as “a bulwark against the increasing homogeneity and commodification of their town, or a prime example of the need for democracy and transparency in local development.”

He concludes that “if the term ‘community asset’ means anything at all then it must apply to this quaint, dilapidated old stadium on Fishponds Road.”

When Saturday Comes is published monthly and costs £ 3.25

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Campaign fund details announced

Details of Hitchin Town’s Save HTFC fighting fund have been announced.

Account name: Save HTFC
Sort code: 30 94 30
Account number: 38221460

The account is with Lloyds Bank in Hitchin.

To ensure absolute transparency the account will be administered by Stephen Pike the senior partner of Bradshaw Johnson, the chartered accountants based at 11 Bancroft, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1JQ. He will authorise any payments made from the Save HTFC account and accounts will be prepared to keep the public informed.

Should there be a surplus at the end of the campaign the club intend to call an open meeting to seek ideas as to which good causes should benefit.

Donations can be made online or by sending cheques to Bradshaw Johnson or the football club.

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Hitchin Town prepares for first milestone in Save HTFC campaign – December 6 march and free entry game

Hitchin Town Football Club’s Save HTFC campaign is gathering momentum and a strategy has been formulated to ensure maximum exposure for this important initiative.

The club has been heartened by the widespread support for the future of its historic stadium, Top Field. This has resulted in a number of new helpers being introduced to the club.

Following a series of meetings, it was decided to move the “free game” to Saturday December 6, when Poole Town will visit Top Field. This decision was made to enable the club to align the free entry game with a proposed protest march on the same day. A carefully-coordinated march requires Police approval, which can take time, and the original date of November 29 was felt to be too soon to allow for such approvals. Proposals for December 6 have now been submitted to the Police and the club awaits approval.

To ensure efforts are concentrated on the march, a separate committee has been established. To publicise this event and harness full support from the local community, the club will run a stall in the Hitchin Market Square on November 15. Leaflets and a petition are also being prepared and will be available at the stall.

Leaflets will be distributed to 12,000 houses across Hitchin and posters will appear in the town to support the campaign. The club is also grateful to the backing of the local media: the Comet and Mercury have promised ongoing publicity and the Non-League Paper’s editor, Stuart Hammonds, is working to get the club’s plight publicized via Radio 5’s Non-League Football Show.

Both the Hertfordshire Football Association and the Hitchin Sunday League are helping the club to publicise December 6. The club is also contacting all local societies and the business community to enlist their support.

Hitchin Town Football Clubs urges its loyal supporters to “bring a friend” on December 6. The target is to attract 2,000 people to the game, a considerable challenge but such is the underlying feeling for the club in the town, it is a figure that can be achieved. 

The planned protest march will be as follows (beginning at 12.00 midday):
Top Field > Butts Close > Brand Street > Bancroft > Fishponds Road > Top Field

The club hopes to include guest speakers for the march and Hitchin manager Mark Burke has committed to ensure the club’s players take part before playing the game against Poole.

The club is aiming to make December 6 a concerted day of protest and action.

The club’s message is clear:
“We do not want a supermarket at Top Field. It is not just Save Top Field or Save HTFC, it is also saving the very fabric of Hitchin. We urge non-fans to attend the game as the very future of the town is at stake. Entry will be free, but the club invites – and hopes – that those attending the game will make a donation to the Save HTFC Fund. The club has a number of other ideas to follow, but the first milestone in the campaign is the march and the game on December 6. The club will advise the public of its ongoing activities as and when they are known. “

Once again, please note that the march is subject to Police approval.

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Hitchin Town v Poole Town to be “no pay”

Hitchin Town Football Club has modified its plans for a “free” game to highlight its “Save HTFC” campaign.

Originally scheduled for the Hitchin v Frome game on November 29, the club’s “free” game will be on December 6, 2014 (kick off 3pm), the day when Hitchin Town play Poole Town.

Although there will be no admission charge for the game, the club is inviting spectators to donate to the “Save HTFC Fighting Fund”.

This switch is to align the free entry game with other “Save HTFC” events taking place on that day. Details of these events will be announced in due course.

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Press Release: Hitchin Town campaign will be “dignified and professional”, says Melvin

Hitchin Town Chief Executive Andy Melvin has stressed the need for a “totally professional” approach to the “Save HTFC” campaign and has called on the club’s supporters to pull together to make it happen.

Melvin said: “Naturally, our supporters are passionate about the club and are concerned about its future. At the same time, however, the Save HTFC campaign must take a long view on its objectives and also protect the club’s reputation not just for its current supporters, but also for the generations to come. We are not doing this for the 300-odd people who watch the club today, but for tomorrow’s supporters.”

“We certainly oppose what the Cow Commoners want to do. We are certainly against the proposed plan they have for Top Field and the proposed relocation is far from optimal. We are clear about this.”

“But we do not want to make this a public slanging match or campaign of abuse against the Cow Commoners. They believed they were doing the right thing. We disagree. But we want to try and persuade them that they are doing the wrong thing. All said and done, we have always wanted to work with them and whatever the outcome, we want public support – including the business community – for the club to flourish. We therefore have to do this the right way.”

“What does this mean? It means retaining a sense of dignity. Being professional about the campaign and our activities. And it means listening to all opinions and suggestions. I have watched some of the activity and debates going on and some supporters, however well-meaning they may be, are damaging the club with some of the comments I have read. We cannot afford to alienate people in our cause. Right now, we need all the support we can get. This is one of the most crucial periods in our history and we must stay focused and retain our dignity. Above all, we need a measured and rational approach to the Save HTFC campaign.”

The Hitchin Town Executive Committee will be unveiling a structure for the campaign in the coming days.

“This is a club with a long heritage and Top Field is our ancestral home. We date back to 1865 and were part of the very first FA Cup. We are part of the history of our national game. We have to preserve that and our campaign will reflect that desire,” concluded Melvin.

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Hitchin Town protest campaign to involve “free” game on November 29

Hitchin Town v Frome Town to be no pay

Hitchin Town Football Club is inviting football fans from all over the country to come to its under-threat Top Field stadium for the Southern League Premier Division game with Frome Town on Saturday November 29, 2014 3pm (Cup ties permitting*).

The game will be “no pay”, in other words, free entry for everyone. The club will, however, invite people to make donations to the “Save HTFC” fighting fund.

This gesture is designed to highlight the depth of feeling around the “Save HTFC” campaign, which aims to stop the enforced relocation of the club to an out-of-town site some two miles from its existing home.

The “no pay day” is just one of many ideas being considered by the club for its “Save HTFC” campaign.

Chairman Terry Barratt said: “We are aware of the enormous groundswell of emotion around the issues of our ground. We want the support of everyone – not just our loyal fans, but the town of Hitchin, the non-league community and local businesses and enterprises. We urge them all to come along and show their support for our cause. We need the help of everyone to secure the future of senior football in Hitchin.”

Meanwhile, the club is urging its supporters to stay patient and calm around the threat to its future. Club Secretary/Treasurer, Roy Izzard, said: “At present, emotions are running high and ideas are being thrown around. We appreciate there are a lot of people who care about the club, but we want people to work together and await the club’s response and plan.”

For details of the Save HTFC campaign, please go to: www.savehtfc.wordpress.com

*This game will only go ahead on this date if Hitchin Town or Frome are not involved in FA Trophy ties.

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Hedgehog raises awareness of Save HTFC campaign

HedgehogThe pitch invasion of a hedgehog has won considerable publicity for the club’s Save HTFC campaign this past week. As well as being mentioned in the tabloid press such as The Sun and the Star, Talk Sport interviewed club officials. The BBC and the Non-League Paper have also featured the story. West Ham United Vice Chairman Karren Brady also mentioned the incident in her column, but was wise to the strategy: “I smell a publicity stunt,” she said.

The BBC story can be accessed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29612605

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