Boreham Wood Football Club celebrated its 70th Anniversary at the end of the 2017/18 season, having been formed in 1948 following the amalgamation of Boreham Rovers and Royal Retournez. The anniversary was celebrated in spectacular style with an appearance at Wembley and also beating a Football League club for the first time ever in the FA Cup – more later on both!
First though, back to our formative years and the club gradually progressed through the Mid-Herts, Parthenon, Spartan and Athenian Leagues. Under the Chairmanship of local man Bill O’Neill and the management of fellow local man Mickey Hunter, the club moved forward by winning back to back promotions at Athenian League level, before being elected to the Isthmian Football League in 1974/75, under the management of another local man Micky Lennon.
In 1976/77 the club won the Isthmian League Division Two Championship by sixteen points and then had a five-season spell in the Premier Division during the late seventies and early eighties. It then enjoyed another much more successful spell in the Premier Division during the nineties under the Chairmanship of Phil Wallace and the managerial expertise of Bob Makin.
That sadly ended in relegation at the end of the 1999/2000 season under the then new Chairman Danny Hunter who remains our Chairman to this day. However, the club did bounce back immediately from that disappointment and once again gained promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division, as Isthmian League Division One Champions in 2000/01.
Following the Football Association restructuring of non-league football in 2004, Boreham Wood competed for the first time in the Southern Football League, playing in Division One East for two seasons. Winning the championship in 2005/06 the club was promoted again and returned to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the 2006/07 season.
Alongside the championship success in the 2005/06 season the club went on an incredible run in the FA Trophy, reaching the Semi-Finals. We are very proud to say that, at present, we are still the lowest ranked team to have reached the last four of that prestigious tournament.
The 2009/10 season was also a highly memorable one for the club, as it saw us finish 4th in our Isthmian League Premier Division campaign and take part in a League Play-Off for the very first time. After defeating Aveley 1-0 away in the Semi-Final, the club went on to beat Kingstonian 2-0 at home in the Final and, under the shrewd management of Ian Allinson, we deservedly took our place in the Football Conference South.
A poor start to our inaugural 2010/11 Conference South league campaign saw us initially struggle to compete at that level and we sat bottom of the table around the Christmas period. However, with clear leadership and further investment from our experienced Chairman, our manager Ian Allinson, our dressing room and our supporters all came together. We rallied and recovered well to finish in a very respectable 14th place.
The 2011/12 season saw us build on our efforts from the first campaign and we achieved an excellent 8th place. The following season, 2012/13, saw the club start very well, only to finish poorly and from occupying a solid Play-Off place in early March finished in a disappointing 9th place. However, the undoubted story of that season, was our glorious FA Cup run and First Round proper appearance that ended in a 2-0 defeat against a very good Brentford side at Meadow Park.
The 2013/14 season ended in cup success, with a Herts Senior Cup triumph defeating local rivals Bishops Stortford on penalties in the final. Another poor start in our league campaign, however, meant the club had a long relegation battle on its hands for the majority of the season but a strong finish saw us end up in 13th place. Another cup run saw us again reach the First Round proper of the FA Cup, and that culminated in us holding Football League One side Carlisle United to a 0-0 draw at Meadow Park. The replay ended in heartbreak, though, as we led 1-0, only to miss a penalty before two late goals saw us bow out of the competition 2-1.
In 2013, we got the go ahead to build a brand new 870-seater West Stand. The project was finally completed in May 2014 at a cost of around three quarters of a million pounds. The stand was officially opened by Mr Arsene Wenger in front of a bumper crowd of 3,400, in a specially arranged friendly against an Arsenal First Team on Saturday 19th July 2014.
The 2014/15 season was, at the time, the most successful in Boreham Wood Football Club’s history. After leading the Conference South for the majority of the season, a controversial defeat at eventual League Champions Bromley cost us the title and so we took our place in the end of season Play-Offs.
After playing magnificently to beat Havant & Waterlooville 2-0 away from home, and then drawing 2-2 at home in a two-legged Semi-Final, we faced the then big spending and strongly fancied Whitehawk Football Club at Meadow Park in front of a partisan 2,200 crowd.
A Lee Angol set piece put us ahead early in the second half before a late Whitehawk penalty levelled proceedings. However, a Junior Morias goal in the first minute of extra time proved to be the winner and sent the club into raptures and the town into delirium. Who could believe it, little Boreham Wood with the lowest average attendance in the league had deservedly achieved promotion to the top tier of Non-League football for the very first time in our then 67-year history!
The 2015/16 season was undoubtedly a historic season for the Wood with us competing at the top table of non-league football for the very first time in the newly named National League. It was, though, no fairy-tale opening season at that level against much stronger opposition. In fact, it proved a very difficult one just to survive and, apart from our opening day 3-1 win against Halifax, and the odd big win against the likes of Tranmere Rovers, we struggled to compete with the bigger clubs.
By the October we had lost our very successful long-standing manager Ian Allinson to his increased work commitments. We had replaced him with Allinson’s experienced, but young, assistant manager Luke Garrard who was just 30-years of age and we continued to struggle and adjust to football at that level and faced a relegation battle that took us to the very last game of the season.
The final three league games of the campaign will long live in the memory as it saw us beat Aldershot away 2-1, Guiseley at home 1-0 and then Welling United 3-0 away. That end of season turnaround finally secured our place in the National League Premier and sent our Chairman, Manager, staff, dressing room and supporters into raptures.
The following season, 2016/17, saw the club improve further, with an 11th place National League finish but the best was still to come one year later.
During that 2017/18 season the club finally realised two ambitions, the first of which was to beat a Football League club in the FA Cup. That happened on Saturday, November 4 2017 with a 2-1 victory over famous FA Cup winners Blackpool. Going a goal down with under half an hour left did not suggest that history was about to be made but an equaliser from Blair Turgott paved the way for Dan Holman to secure his place in the club’s history books with a very late winner.
That would have been the highlight of a normal season, but 2017/18 was anything but that for Boreham Wood FC as a great run of league form ended with an amazing 4th place finish in the National League. That meant yet another appearance in the Play-Offs and this time in the new format where six clubs were involved.
In the eliminator round we beat AFC Fylde 2-1 in a hard-fought game but suffered a series of nightmare injuries, losing three key players before and during the game and putting them out of the remaining Play-Off matches.
We then faced Sutton United away just three days later, without those three key players but a stunning performance led to a 3-2 win against the odds. When the nerve wracking period of injury time ended, those present celebrated the impossible dream – Boreham Wood were going to play at Wembley Stadium! The second lifetime ambition of many at the club was to be realised in the same dramatic season as the first.
A place in the Football League was at stake but it was not to be, losing 2-1 to Tranmere Rovers but the memory of the day, the walk down Wembley Way and seeing over 4,000 fans supporting the club will last forever in the memory of everyone connected with the club.
Our Chairman Danny Hunter can proudly claim that he has overseen our rise through both the Ryman Leagues, the Conference South and into the National League where, in our fourth season, we are regarded as an established club at that level, the pinnacle of non-league football.
During our Chairman’s tenure, he has continued to invest or raise over £14 million, to greatly modernise our current infrastructure, our player recruitment, our ground and facility, which has improved the football club hugely and enhanced every fan’s matchday experience when they visit our Meadow Park home.
In 2017 he secured further investment of £1.8 million building a new training facility, laying a new DESSO pitch of Premier League quality, installing new floodlights and dugouts.
Our facilities are now 90% utilised on a daily basis, 52 weeks of the year. The club houses the largest sports education programme in the whole country, which has now been established for well over a decade. It is a programme that boasts over 600 scholar/students for the next academic year and 2018/19 season.
Optimism in our future has long returned to Meadow Park and we hope it will now lead to greater home support, greater sponsorship and, of course, further investment as we continue to progress. After the incredible infrastructure overhaul and huge facility investment in recent years, the club has never looked in better shape. We now have the excitement of another National League season to enjoy and the future of Boreham Wood Football Club has never looked brighter throughout our 70-year history.