Ahead of Tuesday’s vital game against Bromley, media manager Grant Morris spoke to Boreham Wood Chairman Danny Hunter to get his thoughts about life in the new National League and where he feels the club sits presently off the pitch.
GM: Danny thanks for talking to me, especially on the back of three defeats. Is it fair to say that the National League is proving tougher than some people believed and is it fair to say that unless we adapt quickly it’s going to be a very long and hard season??
DH: Firstly, no the league to me is not proving any more or less tough than imagined but I do accept it has exposed our flaws in all areas very quickly. It is also fair to say though that our start might of been tougher than some of our newer supporters had imagined..
It’s why the bookies who rarely get it wrong, had us at 200/1 outsiders in July and most other clubs have us as certainties for the drop. I have been mentally preparing myself for these difficult days ever since our promotion. Like our supporters I also hate losing but understand its part of footballing life. If I’m honest I knew we’d have more than a few difficult days as we look to establish our club at the next level and that will be both on and off the park..
It’s also why I try and savour the moments and good times like the win up at Tranmere, as those days may be few and far between this season.. Success for me this season will be trying to stay mentally tough, by being smart with our dealings and simply by staying up. In truth that’s why I only wanted to sanction the signings of new players in the summer who had all played at this level or above..
As for you stating “if we do not adapt, it will be a long hard season”. Of course your spot on, if we don’t adapt then we fail and if we fail then we get relegated. If we stay up though its because we’ve evolved, because we’ve used the loan market and transfer windows well..
I accept it will also be stressful, it maybe nerve wracking and it will be joyous in parts. So we will all need a mental toughness and to show strong leadership throughout the club, if we are to succeed. In truth it has already led me to have more than a few sleepless nights and we’re only a month into our first season at this level..
GM: Are you saying Chairman that we’re not good enough at present to stay at this level and unless we strengthen we will go down?? Also how does that work with the transfer window now shut??
DH: No I’m not saying that we’re not good enough or that we won’t stay up. I’m saying that we are a new team playing at a new level and we must evolve. We have made nine new signings and as such we have to mould a good young squad into a good resilient team and patience is needed. We must stay mentally tough, we must be brave in our team selections and though it will take a bit of time, I’m convinced we’ll get our rewards..
We’ve certainly missed loan striker Jamie Lucas since his injury up at Tranmere. While some players simply haven’t adapted as well or as quickly as others to the step up. So Ian and Luke will perhaps need to remedy a few things by dipping back into the loan Market which opened last Wednesday and we may need to strengthen further when the Transfer window opens in January??
We’ve also had injuries to some big players in Charlie Macdonald, Junior Morias and Sam Cox, that has obviously disrupted Ian’s plans but thankfully the lads now seem over their niggles and injuries, so hopefully we can look to get at teams especially at home and play without fear..
GM: What are the biggest changes you’ve found by going up to the National League and are you enjoying it??
DH: Blimey where do you start?? Yes I’m really enjoying it but it’s tough with everything being so different. The quality of the players we’ve needed to sign, the transfer window closing, the travel requirements, the quality of opposition clubs and the quality of their players…
As I expected at this level our budget did need to increase quite considerably but the increase was higher than I budgeted for and is in fact higher across the board. Across the board in regards to players and staff salaries, in regards to increased travel costs and in regards to increased facility, hospitality and especially the security and stewarding costs..
The increase in our support has been nice but when you arrive at places like Tranmere and Lincoln, you really do realise what a small club we are in comparison and how we are perceived. To be competing in this division is seen by some as a feat in itself but I must stress we mustn’t be fear losing or get overawed or sustaining football at this level will be made even harder..
GM: Dan, the supporters want me to ask you the big question, can we stay up and flourish at this level or is it a step too far and are we going to be the proverbial one season wonders??
DH: Absolutely we can stay up but the club the players and the supporters have to be realistic.. We’ve lost three games on the spin so confidence and belief is down but in football you are only ever one game away from going on an unbeaten run. A win against Bromley and the belief will return and let’s be honest our first 12 fixtures could hardly of been made any tougher.
In truth we are seen by many as a small club playing at this level with poor support and if you listen to some, we are funded by Arsenal and Arsenal ladies. Whether I think that’s nonsense or not is a total irrelevance, all I would say is with any new squad, with any new group of players, that understanding, belief and confidence are always vital ingredients to succeed at whatever level you play..
To succeed we will all need to improve and improve collectively from boardroom to bar. As I need to create an ever improving budget, facility and commercial structure, to further fund our progress and I’ll do my best 24/7 to achieve that..
Our newer supporters may see things differently to me. They will see the likes of Tranmere, Wrexham and Grimsby coming to Meadow Park this season as our big games and the ones to be up for.. However for me the reality for us to staying in this division is very very different..
I know we can’t compete just yet with those big ex league clubs over 46 games but we can certainly beat any one of them in a one off. Just like the Premier league money really does talk at this level. There is a mini league within the new National league and its based simply on a clubs budget and by who’s full time and who’s part time, so we must all accept that”..
That’s why our biggest challenges so far this season, are not going to be the Tranmere’s away or the Grimsby’s at home. It will be the games against the likes of Bromley on a Tuesday night that will determine our fate. These are the games within the mini league that I talk about, that we have targeted and set ourselves achievable goals”..
GM: Dan thanks for talking with me today, have you got a message you would like relayed to our supporters..
DH: No, not a message as such.. Our supporters who have been with me these last 17 seasons are a loyal bunch and they know their football. They already know how hard this season is going to be but I can promise them that I’ll try to create a better budget, a better club and a better environment for them and our dressing room to progress and I believe come May we’ll all be celebrating by still being in this division.
I would though ask them all to show up in numbers and drag a friend with them for the mini league games and they’ll already know what games they are. The showpiece games will be great for the budget and for the town but the mini league will be the fixtures that keep us in the division and we’ll need our loyal fans for them..
46 games is a real slog and I know it’s an expensive hobby for our supporters. We’ll experience more lows than highs this season especially on the road but if the fans can show patience, if they can support the manager and our dressing room, then we’ll not finish in the bottom four and we’ll be a much stronger club next season, with a much better Chairman at the helm for the experience..
GM: Thanks Chairman and good luck to Ian and the lads on Tuesday night against Bromley..