Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke on BBC confirming FA Cup first round draw to be televised live at Top Field: ‘The Canary Club better not be rocking – it’s so old it’ll fall down’

PUBLISHED: 20:06 20 October 2018 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 October 2018

Top Field, home of Hitchin Town FC. Picture @laythy29 Twitter and Instagram

Top Field, home of Hitchin Town FC. Picture @laythy29 Twitter and Instagram


Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke hailed his ten-man side for their battling qualities after they salvaged a hard-fouoght 1-1 draw against Leatherhead at Top Field to keep their FA Cup dreams alive.

Top Field, home of Hitchin Town FC. Credit @laythy29Top Field, home of Hitchin Town FC. Credit @laythy29

Ten-man Hitchin showed true character to battle back from a goal down through captain fantastic Josh Bickerstaff’s calmly taken penalty 12 minutes into the second half to draw 1-1 with Leatherhead in their FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie on Saturday.

The popular defender was the coolest man at grand old Top Field as he slotted home to level – only six minutes after Travis Gregory put Leatherhead 1-0 up after a goalmouth scramble.

The result was proof of the battling qualities Hitchin possess after Jay Dowie received a straight red card after a high challenge on Tanners captain Elliot Benyon on 21 minutes. However, Canaries keeper Michael Johnson was on top form as he stood firm against the visitors – earning man of the match plaudits - with the whole team deserving lashings of credit for their battling qualities.

Speaking to CometSport after the match the well-respected Burke said: “I’m really proud of the lads, They battled so hard to keep us in the cup.

HItchin Town's Top Field. Credit @laythy29HItchin Town's Top Field. Credit @laythy29

“It was a tough game. I’m happy to be able to say we’re still in the draw.

“We’ll go to Leatherhead as underdogs – and I like being underdogs.”

after a scrappy opening against Leatherhead, Hitchin’s No8 Dowie was distraught at his sending-off in the 21st minute, after a high challenge poleaxed Tanners captain Elliot Benyon,

Referee Gardner opted to show a straight red to the tenacious, tough-tackling 25-year-old midfielder who counts Boston and Histon as his previous clubs.

Fans turn out to support Hitchin Town at Top Field for Non-league day. Picture: Danny LooFans turn out to support Hitchin Town at Top Field for Non-league day. Picture: Danny Loo

However Burke showed sympathy to his man. He said: “No-one goes out to get sent off. He’s distraught but I told him not to be. He’s a tough-tackling lad who meant no hard with the challenge. Yes, you could argue the challenge was high and you’re always wary about that, but the boys battled back and we’ll move on and look to Wednesday evening.”

The stalemate ensures the Canaries will be in the hat for Monday’s FA Cup first round draw which club secretary Roy Izzard confirmed will be televised live on the BBC.

Burke added: “We’ve still got a tough match before we can even think about the draw. But it is nice to be able to host the BBC here at Top Field.

“I don’t know if the Canary Club will be rocking for the draw - actually it better not be rocking for the BBC as it’s so old it’ll fall down.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Comet. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the The Comet