Oh, hello. I didn't see you there. Well I must say you have impeccable timing as I've just published part five of my Southern League 2011/12 season preview. Getting the Stag Army treatment today are Hemel Hempstead Town, Hitchin Town and Leamington. So sit yourself down with a cuppa and some digestives and read on. Enjoy!
Hemel Hempstead Town
A Brief History: Hemel Hempstead Town FC was founded in 1885 as Apsley FC. They joined the West Hertfordshire League before moving to the Hertfordshire County League in 1899. The club remained in this league for 53 years, before joining the Delphian League in 1952. During this period the club changed it's name to Hemel Hempstead FC. In 1955 the club changed it's name again, adding Town to the end, finally becoming Hemel Hempstead Town FC. When the league split in 1962 the club joined Division Two of the Athenian League, gaining promotion two seasons in a row to reach to Premier Division. The club were back in Division Two by 1969. The club merged with Hemel Hempstead United FC in 1971 and reverted back to being called Hemel Hempstead FC. In 1977 Hemel joined the Isthmian League and remained there for more than 25 years before securing a place the Southern League in 2004. The club was relegated in it's first Southern League campaign, before a late surge after a disappointing start the following season saw them bounce straight back with a 3-2 play off victory over Brackley Town. Hemel reached the Premier Division playoffs in 2007 and 2009, losing in the semi finals on both occasions.
Ground: Hemel Hempstead play at Vauxhall Road. It has a capacity of 3,152 including 250 seats.
Nickname: The club is known as The Tudors. There is a picture of Henry VIII on the club crest. He is a well known Tudor.
Notable Former Players: Not Henry VIII. Former England Under 21 left back Danny Granville plays for Hemel currently. He has previously played for Cambridge United, Chelsea, Leeds United, Manchester City, Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Colchester United and Leyton Orient. Ex-Fulham and Southend United midfielder Julian Hails began his career with Hemel Hempstead. He's now a maths teacher. Bet he didn't count on that when he played football.
Hitchin Town F.C. were formed in 1928. The club joined the Spartan League, and won the Hertfordshire Charity Shield and promotion to the Spartan League Second Division in their first season in 1928/29. Promotion to the top flight of the Spartan League was won in 1930/31. Hitchin moved from the Spartan League to the Athenian League in 1939, but just two games into the season the outbreak of World War II temporarily put an end to competitive football. The club joined Isthmian League in 1962/63 but were relegated from the Premier Division in 1988. It took five years for Hitchin to return, winning the First Division in 1992/93. The club were relegated once again in 1997/98, but went straight back up the next season. In 2003/04 Hitchin moved to the Southern League from the Isthmian League. Hitchin survived in 18th place in 2007/08 after spending much of the season in the relegation zone. The club battled against relegation again in 2008/09 but could not prevent dropping out of the Southern League Premier Division. In 2009/10 Hitchin finished runners-up to Bury Town in the Midlands Division, but then lost 2-1 at home to Slough in the play off semi final. Hitchin were top of the league for most of the following season before a drop in form allowed local rivals Arlesey Town to overtake them at the top, beating Hitchin on the final day of the season to snatch the league title from them. Hitchin had to negotiate the play-offs for the second season in a row, and succeeded with victories over Slough and Daventry.
Ground: Hitchin play at the Top Field ground. It has a capacity of 4,000.
Nickname: Hitchin are nicknamed The Canaries. This is most likely due to their club colours of yellow and green. See, another club in this league with a nickname of the avian variety.
Notable Former Players: Erm.....Don Martin? I guess. Played lots of games for Northampton Town and Blackburn Rovers in the 60's and 70's before ending his career with Hitchin. I think that's it really. Seems Hitchin have never really had any players who have gone on to bigger and better things, or well known players ending their playing career with the club. Shame.
A Brief History: The club was founded in 1891 as Leamington, and became known as Leamington Town the following year. In 1937 the club sold their ground to Coventry City and did not then re-form until 1944 when they became known as Lockheed Borg & Beck. The team soon became Lockheed Leamington, and then AP Leamington in 1973. In 1985 the club renamed once again, reverting to simply being called Leamington. Within three years, however, the ground had been sold. With the club at its playing pinnacle, Automotive Products decided to sell the Windmill Ground in Tachbrook Road for housing development. The last match at the old Windmill Ground was played in April 1988. The club started up again in 2000 playing at the New Windmill Ground in Whitnash, a small village to the south of Leamington. Leamington went on to win two successive promotions, the Midland Football Combination Division Two title in the 2000/01 season and then as runners-up in Division One the season after. In the 2004/05 season Leamington won the gained promotion to the Midland Alliance. In their second season in the Midland Alliance, the club won the league and cup double and were promoted to the BGB Southern League Midland Division. The first season ended in disappointment as the club finished second but lost in the playoffs. The next season, however, the club went one better, winning the Midland Division and achieving promotion to the Southern League Premier Division.
Nickname: The club is known as The Brakes. Let's hope Totton can put THE BRAKES on them this season. See what I did there? ... I'll get my coat.
Notable Former Players: Former Huddersfield Town, Grimsby Town and Birmingham City left back Dennis Jennings ended his career with Leamington when they were known as Lockheed Leamington. And Aldershot striker Alex Rodman began his career with Leamington in 2005. That's all I've got on this one.
So another 3 teams come and go on our tour of the Southern League Premier Division. We're nearly there now, I promise. Tomorrow I'll be looking at Oxford City, Redditch United and St Albans City and going through them with a fine-tooth comb. Arrivederci!