Plenty has been going on behind the scenes as Hitchin Town get set to welcome an Arsenal XI to Top Field.

Canaries secretary Roy Izzard says the club has been working hard to put into place extra staff and amenities for this Thursday’s friendly, which will see the inauguration of Hitchin’s new floodlights.

Town have already announced that Arsenal legend Pat Rice will be the special guest on the evening, while members of the original 1962 match between the two sides, including Arsenal’s Billy McCullough, will also be at the game.

Speaking to the Comet, Roy said the club has had plenty of interest from fans about the match while he also said that he had to turn down the Premier League club’s first proposed date for the game!

“After agreeing to play us Arsenal had originally wanted the game on the Friday. We said ‘thanks for the offer but could we change the date,’” Roy said, laughing.

“We told them we had a game on the Saturday and they were fine with it, and they have been fantastic to deal with throughout.”

Hitchin are used to hosting big teams; after all last summer Norwich City brought their first team along for a friendly match at Top Field to celebrate 150 years of football in the town.

They asked for use of Hitchin’s two changing rooms which meant Mark Burke and his side took the unusual step of changing over the road at the Hitchin Swimming Pool building.

“It has been hectic but will all be worthwhile. It’s similar to the build up to the Norwich game though they’ve only asked for one changing room,” joked Roy.

“There’s a lot more catering to be done for the guests and we’ve had to get in extra toilets so we’ve ordered Portaloos. We’ve had to have extra personnel for stewarding and the car park.

“We have been able to secure Butts Close for parking and we’re very grateful to North Herts District Council for that as the use of the club’s own car park will be restricted to match and club officials and guests.”

Parking is £2 as the club has to pay for the hiring of the parking area, but profits will be put back into the club and the Willow Foundation charity.

There will also be a matchday programme priced at £2 while the club’s ground manager, Len Leroux, stayed behind on Saturday while the Canaries were playing away to Slough Town to install a new P.A. system at Top Field which will also get a first outing this Thursday in a game which promises to be a special evening for Hitchin Town.

“It’ll be a great occasion for the players to just go out there and enjoy themselves playing against an Arsenal team,” said Roy.