Hitchin ready for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ shot at Norwich City

Norwich City step up their pre-season preparations at Hitchin after beating Gorleston on Saturday. P

Norwich City step up their pre-season preparations at Hitchin after beating Gorleston on Saturday. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Hitchin boss Mark Burke has labelled Norwich City's pre-season visit on Tuesday a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity for the non league Canaries.

Alex Neil is poised to bring a strong senior squad to Top Field to help commemorate 150 years of association football in the Hertfordshire town (KO 7:45pm)

Burke admits his Southern Premier Division part-timers will relish taking on Premier League opposition. Hitchin officials have been working overtime to prepare for City's visit, with Burke revealing Neil's squad and support staff are taking over both changing rooms.

'One is probably for their kit and the other is to get changed in. We're off to the leisure centre nearby to go and have a little swim beforehand but we don't mind at all,' he said.

'We know with Premier League clubs it is not just the players but all the backroom staff. It might be different if it was an FA Cup tie, we might ask them to all squeeze in there, but for a friendly we want to look after them and try to be as hospitable as possible.


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'For the players it is a chance to pit their wits against top quality players; probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of them.

'There is a real buzz around the whole town and we are really looking forward to it. For, me it is a great honour to be in charge of the team and we are really appreciative that Norwich is sending down the whole squad to commemorate the 150 year celebration and to help raise some money for our charities. There is more to it than just a football match.'

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Burke knows his squad face an uphill task to compete after Norwich opened their pre-season build-up with a 7-0 win at Gorleston.

'I think it is going to be a fitness session for us. The boys are well aware of what we are facing,' he said. 'We'll try and play, of course, and we have a surface that is conducive to playing football and we do like to do that but I think there could be quite a bit of chasing around to do. Norwich might let us play a bit so they get something out of it defensively.

'We've only had six sessions since we came back for pre-season and that is the way it is with part-time players. Norwich probably have that in a week and maybe even double sessions right now. They are going to be naturally fitter but adrenaline might get my boys through a bit, along with the excitement of playing against them.'

• The game is pay on the gate. Admission prices: £10 Adult, £6 concessions (over 60s) and free entry for 16-year-olds and under. No parking is available at stadium but you can park at nearby Butts Close, cost £2 per vehicle.

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