Returning chairman John Hall outlines plans for Histon’s growth and development
John Hall has ambitions to help Histon grow on and off the pitch after returning as chairman of the club.
A long-time director of the Stutes, he had been at the helm between 2016 and 2020 before relinquishing the baton and being replaced by Richard Barlow.
His successor stepped down from the position last October, and Hall was persuaded to take up the reigns again on a temporary basis, with Owen Howell and Lynn Kemp as vice-chairs to share the load.
“I’ve got a great admiration for the club and what it’s done, where it’s been and where we’ve got to, and I just want to see it continue to grow,” says Hall.
They will be starting off in a new division this season after Histon were relegated from the Northern Premier League, Midlands Division to the United Counties League, Premier Division, in a relegation play-off at the end of the last campaign.
It concluded what had been a difficult 12 months, when the Stutes were transferred to a new division late on and lost a large number of their squad.
“Last season was a bit of a disappointment but there were factors outside the board’s control,” says Hall.
“When we lost nine players, we had to build from scratch so all credit to Lance (Key), Crits (Mark Critoph) and Simon (Wall) to end up where we did; we could have just about sneaked back in.
“It wasn’t to be on the day. We want to be pushing for promotion this year. I don’t think it’s a league we’ve ever been in, so it will be interesting.
“We’ve got a new reserve side which Matt Payne is going to head up. We were losing a lot of our scholars or under-18s to other clubs because we couldn’t give that next step for them before the first team, we’ve got that now.
“Having seen some of the pre-season games, there are some decent players in there.”
It has been a very busy summer for Histon.
There have been new appointments across the playing side of the club, including the reserves, under-18s and women’s, and in the boardroom.
“From the board point of view, we’ve now got Paul Smart come on board as a director,” explains Hall, highlighting the spread of abilities on the board.
“I think he is a great addition as well because he’s got a financial background and he’s going to be the finance director for the football club, looking after the corporate side.
“He is already out there with his online brochure, looking to drum up some business.
“When I was working, I’m a great believer in having the right people in the right place, complementing their strengths.
“A lot of people don’t in business, and that’s a great shame so we want to put the right people in the right place at Histon Football Club. If they’ve got the skills, that’s where they should be.”
But one of the priorities is developing the next generation.
To that end, Hall talks glowingly about the scholarship structure run in conjunction with Long Road Sixth Form College with the aim of seeing youngsters progress to the first team.
“We’re trying to work closely with the local community as well so we want to bring them in,” he says.
“It’s just to play at the highest level we can do, and to bring the kids through. The level we are, we don’t buy people in, that’s not what we do.
“We will create our own talent hopefully and benefit from that in the long term.
“When you look at some of the players we had, and where they’ve gone to, that’s what we strive for.
“We have the scholarship scheme at Long Road Sixth Form College, and they are really happy with us – and there will be 40 in there this year.
“Harry Smart is doing a great job. To grow that scholarship up to 80 over the next two or three years would be a great achievement.
“For us, it’s all about the education side so we want to give them the best start to life that we can do.
“We have the link with Norwich for the EJA sides. To have some input and that name behind you at that level is quite an attraction for players.”
So what is the overall outlook for the new season across the club?
“Growing on the 13s, 14s, 15s, I think the 16s is one of the teams we haven’t got this year so to have a full set next year would be the aim,” says Hall.
“The ladies and the reserves, hopefully we will have both, doing well, it would be good to see them get promotion. The first team to end up in the top half or even get promoted, with the top two going up. And a cup run would be good.”
Histon start their season at home to Coventry Sphinx this Saturday (July 30).