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Gunners legend Rice switches on new floodlights as Hitchin Town host Arsenal

Gunners legend Rice switches on new floodlights as Hitchin Town host Arsenal

Gunners legend Rice switches on new floodlights as Hitchin Town host Arsenal

Pat Rice, former Arsenal defender and Assistant Manager, officially switched on Hitchin Town FC’s new floodlights, ahead of the club’s friendly fixture vs an Arsenal FC XI, which finished 1-1. The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.

The new floodlights at Top Field mean the club now meet the required FA National Ground Grading Criteria, allowing them to progress up the National League System, where they currently play Step 3 football in the Southern League Premier Division.

The fixture vs the Arsenal FC XI marked an historic moment for the club, whose floodlights were first installed in 1962, also following a fixture against the Gunners. Six former Hitchin Town FC and Arsenal FC players that competed in the 1962 fixture were in attendance, including David Court and Billy McCullough.  

A percentage of the gate receipts were donated to the Willow Foundation, setup by former Arsenal goalkeeper, Bob Wilson. The charity supports seriously ill young adults aged 16-40.

The project was made possible thanks to a £27,924 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.  

Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.

Pat Rice, who amassed nearly 400 appearances for the Gunners, said: “I’m very happy to show support for Hitchin Town FC, and to play a part in what is a big day for the club. I’d like to wish everyone at Hitchin Town every success in the future.”

Mark Burke, First-Team Manager of Hitchin Town FC, said, “Hitchin Town FC is very grateful to the Premier League for providing support through its Football Stadia Improvement Fund, alongside the efforts of the Football Foundation, which has enabled us to install new floodlights at Top Field. The club would also like to thank Arsenal FC for providing opposition to celebrate the installation of lights and to be able to contribute towards such a deserving charity as the Willow Foundation.”

Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “It is great to have Pat Rice switching on Hitchin Town FC’s new floodlights. Arsenal FC have helped mark an historic moment for the club with current and former players attending today, the gate proceeds also going towards a fantastic cause.

“The development here at Top Field will really enable the club to push on and progress up the football pyramid. Infrastructure improvements are so important to the broader development of teams up and down the National League system, with this project another great example of the Premier League’s continued commitment towards grassroots sport, through the FSIF. A tremendous well done to all involved – I wish the club the very best for the future!” 

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
- Mark Burke at info@htcfc.co.uk or on 01462 720 088 
- Michael Boniface at michael.boniface@footballfoundation.org.uk or on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292

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Pat Rice switched on the new floodlights to mark a great night for the hosts Hitchin Town FC, who faced off against an Arsenal FC XI as part of the celebrations.
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Gunners hero Pat Rice opened the new facility alongside former players who competed in the 1962 fixture at Top Field.

Quote

“I’m very happy to show support for Hitchin Town FC, and to play a part in what is a big day for the club. I’d like to wish everyone at Hitchin Town every success in the future.”

Pat Rice, Gunners Legend

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