Boss Burke keen to avoid ‘rollercoaster’ season as Hitchin eye play-off places

PUBLISHED: 13:26 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:26 01 August 2019

Hitchin Town Manager Mark Burke with Assistant Manager Adam Parker during the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH

Hitchin Town Manager Mark Burke with Assistant Manager Adam Parker during the FA Cup 1st round match at Top Field. Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH

©2018 Archant

Hitchin Town boss Mark Burke is hoping his side can make the Southern League Premier Division Central play-offs this season after a ‘rollercoaster’ 2018/19 campaign.

The Canaries had a succesful FA Cup run, making it to the first round proper before defeat against Solihull Moors.

They also won the Herts Charity Cup, but spent most of their league campaign in a relegation battle before dragging themselves to safety.

Burke would like the 2019/20 campaign to run a bit smoother, telling CometSport: "Last season was a proper rollercoaster.

"We started poor in the league, but had a great FA Cup run, we picked up ourselves up in the league and finished with a cup, so it was nice to get ourselves a bit of silverware at the end of it.

"I'd take that and going through in the FA Cup again, but I would like a smoother run in the league."

The Hitchin boss believes his side can push for a play-off place this season, adding: "We want to give it a go.

"Last season it was difficult because we had a lot of new teams we hadn't seen before.

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"Now we've had a look at them, that's going to help us in our campaign this season, so we want to push for the play-offs and if we can be the dark horses I'd take that."

Burke is a legendary figure at Top Field having started his journey with the Canaries all the way back in 1985.

Having joined the club from Queens Park Rangers, he captained Hitchin's FA Cup giant-killing sides of 1994 and 1995, and lead the Canaries to two promotions.

Burke retired in 2005 with 732 Canaries appearances to his name, the second highest in club history, and he has been in the manager's hot seat since 2014.

He was keen to express what the club means to him, saying: "It's a great club, I love it.

"It's 35 years next year unbelievably, but it only feels like the other day when I was first coming.

"The people here are brilliant people and it's a really welcoming club.

"Former players like to come back. Funnily enough Steve Miller who lives in Sweden now is over at the moment and he came back.

"He was talking to Del Boy, the kit man, and he said I don't know what it is about this club but all the old players do seem to like to come back.

"Maybe it's some magnetic force I don't know, but they love being here and I love being here."

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