Hertfordshire FA Senior Challenge Cup Final
Hitchin Town 2-1 Boreham Wood
The Stadium, Cheshunt
NINETEEN years ago Hitchin Town captain Mark Burke was among the scorers as the Canaries defeated Boreham Wood 4-1 in the Herts FA Senior Challenge Cup Final.
Fast forward to last Thursday night, and Burke - now Hitchin's manager - was able to celebrate another cup final win against Wood, who left Cheshunt as beaten finalists in this competition for the second year in a row.
For Hitchin, whose players, officials and fans celebrated raucously after the final whistle, this cup success brought some consolation after relinquishing a two-goal lead in the Southern Premier League play-off semi-final against Hungerford Town.
Wood, on the other hand, were brought down to earth after the euphoria of last Saturday's win at Welling United, a result which had earned the club a second year in the National League.
Despite their struggles this season, Wood arrived at Cheshunt as favourites to win against the Canaries, two levels lower down the pyramid.
Luke Garrard's team took the field wearing their familiar National League squad numbers; Hitchin wearing the traditional 1 to 11.
Last month Wood and Hitchin had agreed to postpone this cup final until after the end of the league season, allowing both teams to concentrate fully on their respective survival and promotion battles.
In the end, this was to leave Garrard with a selection headache. Loan players Harry White, Clovis Kamdjo, Delano Sam-Yorke and Jamie Lucas had all returned to their parent clubs after the completion of the league programme.
On the flip side, Matty Whichelow and Josh Hill, who had spent most of the season out on loan, had now returned and rejoined the Wood squad this evening.
With Ben Nunn cup-tied and Joe Devera unavailable due to illness, Jack Connors was brought in at left-back, and Garrard nominated himself as one of the five substitutes.
Hitchin were faced with late selection problems of their own. Two of their intended starting XI, Robbie Burns and Mason Spence, were stuck in traffic on the M25 pre-match and instead named among the substitutes.
For the first time in 13 seasons, this cup final did not take place at the Herts FA's headquarters at the County Ground in Letchworth, a "lack of sufficient infrastructure" the reason cited on Boreham Wood's club website.
Instead, we all made our way to Theobalds Lane, the home of Step 4 Cheshunt FC, located just north of the M25/A10 interchange, for the final of the county's premier cup competition.
My report for Real Footy Talk is here.