We will reach Hitchin, eventually

Here is the latest Talking Bull, Away Days Guide brought to you be the self-appointed Hereford ‘Ground Guide Guru’ Simon Wright, as he looks ahead to the Bulls penultimate away fixture of the season at Hitchin Town which is now scheduled for Wednesday, 25 April 2018.

Three times, a Hereford team have played at Top Field and 3 times they’ve lost. Lost in the Trophy, lost in the FA Cup and even lost to a very one-sided friendly during the Year of the Crim. A HUST side were battered 12-0 by a full Hitchin Town side, so it’s about time we won one there!

Hitchin lurks on the other side of Luton. It’s a charming market town of 35,000 people, probably more charming than Coleshill while not quite having the chocolate box look of say Hartley Wintney. And with the ground quite close to the town centre and Town having a reputation for being a friendly bunch, this could be fun.

Football dates back to 1865 in the town and famously a Hitchin club competed in the first ever FA Cup.   In recent years, the club are hitting new heights in their history. Last year, they were one minute from promotion in the Play-Offs but Leamington pinched a leveller and then beat them in added time. As a consequence, Hitchin lost 5 players and haven’t threatened the top five this season.  Kings Lynn beat them 4-0 at Top Field in January leading to a very honest interview with the Hitchin manager.

Hitchin work hard to attract support and average 465 in 2017-18 (7th highest in the Division) but they do rely on their Academy to keep producing players.  Hitchin’s manager Mark Burke is the full-time manager of Hitchin Town Community FC. Interestingly, they share top notch Academy facilities with Luton Town FC.

To look at, Top Field is a slightly upmarket Royston. The seating area looks vintage, is definitely low with 4 rows of seats and sits on the halfway line. Opposite are two covered terraces, with wooden standing areas to the side. Its mainly open terracing at either end. There is a wooden terrace cover behind part of one goal. There are trees overlooking on all sides. If you want to see for yourself, go on Hitchin FC TV, who cover all the home games. Hitchin charge “small club standard” admission charges of £10 adults, concessions £6 and children under 16 admitted free.

The Canary Club bar, which is separate from the ground, is open all week, with a separate function room. They serve Adnams Ghost Ship and that stuff from Sharps.  Disabled access is not a problem. There is a car park in front, holding about 100 vehicles.  Beyond that, only street parking available. But lots of it.

The Highlander in Upper Tilehouse Lane is a family-owned pub selling home-made food. One regular real ale Greene King IPA and 3 guests.  In the same street is the Coopers Arms, a traditional local selling McMullans beers. Both pubs about 12 minutes away.

The local Spoons is the Angel Vaults in Sun Street.  3 real ale plus 6 guests. This is on the premises of the former Hitchin Conservative Club but don’t let that put you off. Google maps has the pub as a 13 minute walk (0.7 miles) from the ground down Bedford Road.

Lots of local choice. Tripadvisor lists 142 places to eat.  I’ll be either heading for Fabio’s Gelato or La Rayas Tapas Bar.

Getting There

By Road: (SG5 1NU) 140 miles From M1 J10, Luton South and Airport, and follow the A505 signposted to Hitchin. When in Hitchin turn left at the first large roundabout, and follow signs for Bedford A600. Straight over the next set of traffic lights, at the next roundabout turn right into Fishponds Road. Entrance is 100 yards on the left.

By Train:   As usual, very long winded from Hereford. Means going into London and out again – 4.5 or 5 hours one way.  Southern Exiles will be grinning again, as Hitchin is on the Kings Cross main line and just 30 minutes from London. The Ground is about one mile away.

By Coach:  £20 Hereford Away Days. Contact Reg via Facebook.

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