Canaries chief executive – Hitchin must unite to save Top Field

Andy Melvin, chief executive of Hitchin Town FC, is calling for the town to unite

Andy Melvin, chief executive of Hitchin Town FC, is calling for the town to unite - Credit: Archant

Hitchin Town legend Andy Melvin has issued a rallying call to the town as a campaign to protect the club’s Top Field home kicks off this week.

The club’s glory days manager and current chief executive wants to present a united front of fans, townsfolk and business people to make potential developers back off from a scheme which could see the Canaries – reputed to be the second oldest football club in the country – exiled to the edge of town.

And he says the time is right, after years of rumour and wrangle, for the clouds over the future of the key site on the corner of Fishponds Road and Bedford Road to be dispelled, so that the club can begin to build for the future.

“The next few months are crucial,” he said this week.

“It’s time for Hitchin to decide – does the town want to keep the proven benefits of a successful town centre football club, or does it want, or even need, another supermarket?

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“If and when planners have to decide on what happens to the site, we want them to be in no doubt where the town stands, and stands united.”

The clock it ticking because developers who have secured an option from the Cow Commoners have until the end of February to put proposals on the table.

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The plan, if it goes ahead, would see the club move to a new home on farmland opposite Kingshott School on Stevenage Road – but they want to stay on the ground they have called home since the 1920s.

He’s called a public meeting at Top Field next Wednesday, October 8, at 7.30pm, and is hoping that a bumper turnout will help demonstrate the strength of feeling against the possibility of a new Tesco superstore on the site, and the town’s frustration at the way the secretive Cow Commoners Trust has dealt with the long-running issue.

“We have looked at the plan in detail and do not believe it adds up, but we think that a scheme of this magnitude should be discussed with our members, the general public and the business community” said Mr Melvin.

“Anyone who has the interests of the town at heart will be more than welcome at the meeting – and if the Cow Commoners, who have always been reluctant to explain their thinking on this - would like to represented, we promise them a fair hearing.”

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