Mark Burke has seen many a new season come and go at Hitchin Town but he still hasn't lost the thrill it brings.

He started his Canaries journey back in 1985 as a player, retiring after a huge 732 appearances in 2005 but he was back in 2013 as assistant manager before being promoted to top dog in the following season.

But after the disruptions of the last two years, simply being back for another year is the spark driving Burke and his team.

Herts Advertiser: Laurie Marsh in action for Hitchin Town.Laurie Marsh in action for Hitchin Town. (Image: Karyn Haddon)

He said: "The boys are just happy to be back playing football again, we all are to get some sort of normality.

"Bring it on, let’s get going. We’ve got a tough start though. Redditch will be one of the favourites and we are going away to them followed by Nuneaton at home.

"It is tough but it is a great league to be in. I was going through each of the fixtures when they came out and there’s not one easy one among them.

"We’ve got to prepare as much as we can and use pre-season as the tool to make sure we know what we are doing."

Herts Advertiser: Ryan Smith in action for Hitchin Town.Ryan Smith in action for Hitchin Town. (Image: Karyn Haddon)

The Top Field-based club endured a difficult year at the wrong end of the table in 2019-2020 but there was an improvement in the brief running last year, three wins and a draw from the seven matches.

And their work during this pre-season, playing the likes of Luton Town and Stevenage, has given them plenty of minutes in the bank of fitness, more perhaps than Burke would have preferred.

The boss said: "I don’t normally like anyone playing 90 minutes in the first three or four games [of pre-season]. They can pick up injuries but when you play the likes of Luton and Stevenage, you need two teams anyway.

"They were good work-outs for us though and it wasn’t about possession, it was about fitness.

"I’m really pleased with how it is going."

Herts Advertiser: Rio Dasilva in action for Hitchin Town against Harpenden Town in pre-season.Rio Dasilva in action for Hitchin Town against Harpenden Town in pre-season. (Image: Karyn Haddon)

They were handed another boost towards the end of pre-season too with the return of Luke Brown.

The forward had switched to St Albans City earlier in the summer but because of "travel complications", City boss Ian Allinson agreed that Brown should sign dual registration with both clubs.