Watching local football became the standard diet over the next few years as my health continued to improve.
Hitchin Town continued to compete well in the Isthmian League Premier Division and had more success in the FA Cup. During the 1976/77 season they reached the First Round Proper where they were drawn against Weymouth. After three drawn games Hitchin won the third replay 3-1. In the Second Round they were drawn at home to Swindon Town and I joined a capacity crowd of 6000 spectators in watching them draw 1-1. Swindon Town duly won the replay 3-1 but Hitchin competed extremely well and could be proud of their performance. The record attendance at Top Field had been set in 1955 when 7878 supporters saw them defeat Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 in the Amateur Cup Third Round. Hitchin reached the FA Cup First Round one more time during the 1970’s, in 1978/79 when they were drawn away to Bournemouth and after an excellent performance were narrowly defeated by two goals to one.
The 1975/76 season was to be Stevenage Athletic’s last, as the club finished bottom of the Southern League Division One (North) and folded. The club’s administration had been so bad that the secretary of the Southern League vowed never again to allow a Stevenage based team to enter the league. The ground was closed by the owner but a youth team coach entered the ground and played a youth match. This infuriated the owner and he sent contractors to plough the pitch up from goalmouth to goalmouth. The ground would stay in this condition until 1980 when the council took control and carried out the necessary repairs. A newly formed club Stevenage Borough had been formed in 1976 and played its matches on King George V playing field. It became the tenant at Broadhall Way in 1980 and after enquiring about joining the Herts. County League joined the United Counties League, where instant success was achieved, winning Division One and the League Cup. For the start of the 1984/85 season the club joined the Isthmian League and after some roller coaster seasons won the Premier Division in 1993/94. The club was promoted to the Football Conference for the start of the 1994/95 season. A year later they won the championship but were denied entry to the Football League being unable to meet facility requirements. They again won the championship in 2009/10 and, this time, were duly promoted to the Football League.
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