It came as a lovely surprise when the club were informed that our long-serving volunteer, Peter Smith or “The Viscount” as he is affectionately known, had been honoured by the Football Association with a medal and badge to commemorate his 50 years as an officer of Boreham Wood FC.
You have to go back to the summer of 1966 when a fresh-faced teenager who lived just round the corner from the ground, joined the committee of Boreham Wood Football Club as the Press-Officer. Back in those days Boreham Wood had coverage in the sports pages of three weekly local newspapers and an evening paper. One of Peter’s earliest tasks was to telephone the result of the day’s match to the evening paper, so the result could be included in their Saturday edition. For many of you, this will seem quite alien, but the club had a payphone in the corridor between the clubhouse & dressing rooms. As soon as the final whistle went, Peter would race to the phone & get the score to the evening paper. At a quarter to five, Peter would try to get through and once he had, the score would be put in that evening’s paper and was in the shops in Shenley Road just after 6pm the same night. Peter would then have the match report to write up, get it typed three times;- one for each of the local papers, then post them on Sunday morning. He would also phone each paper on Monday just to check they had received them.
Peter continued in this role for several years, before moving on to the job of programme editor. This meant typing the content, getting updated league tables and team line-ups then putting it all together, printed (on a fetching shade of green or blue paper) and ready to be taken to the club to be sold before the game. Remember this was in the days before mobile phones, the internet, PCs, ink-jet printers and the like.
Peter also took on a number of other roles around the club, which had a very thriving social section in those days, with the clubhouse being packed every Saturday night where members could be entertained by singers, bands etc. I may be mistaken but at one stage I’m sure it was either Peter’s job to book the bands for Saturday nights, or he was the Bingo caller on a Monday evening. I’m sure he’ll tell us if I’ve got that wrong! Perhaps he even did both!
On the footballing side of the committee, Peter had two spells as Club Secretary and at least one stint as Fixture Secretary. I first really got to know Peter in the late eighties as we both had our preferred viewing spot of behind the goal that Wood were attacking. Just before kick-off, Peter would leave the sanctuary of the Boardroom having feasted on tea & biscuits, to join the riff-raff behind the goal. Once there, goals were celebrated, near misses groaned at then at half-time it was back to the Boardroom for Peter, more tea & biscuits (sometimes even cake!). The rest of us then changed ends for the second half and Peter would return suitably refreshed for the next 45 minutes. After a couple of seasons I was invited to join the Management Committee so became part of the tea & biscuit brigade, but still watched the games from behind the goal with Peter and the other die-hard fans who had trekked to Barking, Marlow, Staines or wherever we happened to be playing.
During the “naughties”, I was Youth team and or Reserve team secretary and found Peter, who by then was Club Secretary, to be an enormous source of knowledge of football admin and I frequently turned to him for help. Indeed now in my own second stint as Club Secretary, I still do!
Nowadays we tend to watch games together from the sanctity of the Directors Box, although still occasionally venture behind the goal at some away games to recapture the atmosphere and act like kids again! I will always treasure the sight of Peter at Whitehawk after he had celebrated at the final whistle with the players in the corner of the ground. Hugging the mud-soaked players to congratulate them on their hard fought victory, then returning to his original position, his light brown raincoat now covered in a considerable amount of the contents of Whitehawk’s pitch! Peter was unperturbed and after a visit to the dry-cleaners, was back at the next game as smart as always.
Peter wouldn’t want to make too much of a song & dance about the award (although he is quite partial to a musical so perhaps I’m wrong!) but his service to the club rightly deserves recognition from those outside of the club, as those of us privileged enough to be on the inside already know how much he has done for us.