Boreham Wood Football Club Chairman Danny Hunter, spoke exclusively to our Media and Communications manager Craig Draycott, after last night’s 3-2 league win against rivals Dagenham, and ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy trip up to Gateshead.
It was a win that has once again raised expectation amongst the Wood Army, as it has taken the club back into one of the coveted play off positions, and has gotten everybody excited again, about the rest of the season…
CD… Thanks for sparing me a few minutes Chairman.
DH… My pleasure Craig.
CD… Well Chairman, after tonight’s hard fought, but thoroughly deserved win, and with the team now on a run of just one league defeat since September 23rd, expectation levels are understandably rising.
So, can you give us your thoughts on sitting fifth in the league, your feelings ahead of Saturday’s big FA Trophy tie up at Gateshead and your expectations for both the league and the Trophy??
DH… Yes of course… It’s very similar to how I felt when we knocked St Albans City out of the FA Cup. My underlying feeling is one of great pride in what we’re quietly achieving, real pride in my young manager, real pride in our dressing room, real pride in my staff, real pride in our supporters and real pride in our town.
I think that after 19 seasons here, I should know how to run a football club. So, I’m certainly not going to get carried away in early January. But, we are now at the very beginning of the so-called ‘run in’, and the finishing line does start to get nearer each week.
We all know, and it’s cliché, that you win nothing in football at this time of year. But if you don’t react to injuries, react to the transfer window and react to loss of form, you can fall away at this time and fall away quickly… I don’t think that will happen to us, because we have improved the club across the board this season, we have improved our mind-sets, we have improved our squad strength and if we can maintain our momentum over the next eight weeks, then we’ll be bang in this play off, or title race, if Macclesfield slip up…
After tonight’s win, Luke and the players won’t need me to tell them, that it’s now only about Saturday and the FA Trophy. But for sure, tonight will of given us enormous confidence in what we’re doing, confidence in each other and confidence in what we can achieve together, and that’s going to be important as the pressure starts to build.
That’s why it’s important Craig, that we try to strengthen our ranks intelligently from what is presently a position of strength, and why we are not waiting until we hit a real sticky patch, which we of course will…
So, when the January transfer window shuts for the pro clubs in three weeks’ time. I hope we’ve worked smart in that market. That we’ve done our business quickly and I also hope that those pro clubs don’t come calling and leave our players alone, as many of our lads could play at the level above in a heartbeat.
As for the Trophy game this Saturday, I hope the town doesn’t start thinking that the Trophy isn’t a big competition, because for me it is. If we win at Gateshead we’re just three rounds from Wembley, and it’s no secret that it’s my dream to take our club and town up Wembley Way.
So, I hope the fans can do what they did for us in the FA Cup and really turn out. But I of course understand that Gateshead is the other end of the country, it’s not cheap to get there, and it’s just after Christmas. So, whoever can make the long journey up there, they will be hugely appreciated and I’ll even pay for their entry.
As for your question Craig, regarding my expectations in the league and the FA Trophy. Well, with my present staff and dressing room, I know we love a challenge, I know we’re focused, I know we’re difficult to beat. I know the players believe in themselves, and I know everyone has bought into the club’s philosophy of attitude, discipline and desire before ability ever shines.
So, if we continue with what we’re doing, then I believe we’re in for one hell of a run in. I genuinely believe in what I’m doing here and what we’re building together, but I expect more than a few setbacks before the season ends. But I also know, we’ll not allow anybody to get carried away, because if they do, then we’ll sink… But if I can manage expectation intelligently; and trust me there will be no pressure on any of us, as we’re little Boreham Wood simply having a go; then I genuinely fancy Luke and the dressing room to be ready and to perform in the big games, and if they do, then we’ll make the play offs.
CD… Chairman, you’ve often said that, through the website and social media, we must manage people’s expectation, as things can often turn sour if we get carried away.
But, the way that the club is now performing on-and-off the pitch, plus the fact that Luke and the dressing room are so confident whoever we play, has everybody, even the staff, believing that there is still more to come.
After tonight, everyone will be excited with how our league campaign is going, and with reaching the FA Cup Second round, sitting fifth in the National league table and being in the last 32 of the Trophy.
I asked you after the St Albans win, was it foolish for us to believe that the play offs, or promotion, was remotely possible, or whether we were getting carried away and in a false league position??
DH… Yes, I remember the question well. And I told you then that I felt we were in a false position, and that we should of been higher in the league. For me, that’s still the case, though now the league has become possibly an nine-team race to the title, and we’re still one of those nine… So belief is going to be key, and the January and February months are always crucial months, regarding a promotion push or a relegation battle.
So like the Wood Army, I will of course carry hope in the league and up to Gateshead in the FA Trophy. But as I said, I do believe in this dressing room, and as such, the play offs are possible… My opinion though Craig is not rocket science, we are in a play off position because we deserve to be and we’ve lost once since September 23rd, so with a bit of Lady Luck, we can be there at the season’s end.
Luke is now, after more than two years in the job, a more experienced gaffer. We now have a much-improved back room staff and a better squad. We now have an improved and experienced day-to-day staff. And I believe that our stability, hard work and focus will give us the platform to progress, and get to the next level in the years to come.
CD… That leads me nicely into my next question chairman; let’s look to the future and again touch on your vision, of how this club could look in a few years.
We’ve all seen those amazing stand visuals, the 70-year anniversary video and heard about your very positive meetings with the council. But after those meetings, are we any closer to having the two new stands in the next two, or three years?
You have said that you are hoping to start the new North Stand project in May 2018, and then build a new East Stand the following May in 2019, is that a realistic target??
DH… Yes I think so, especially in regards to the new North Stand Craig… I feel the North Stand is a very realistic target. But again, only if the council, the residents and the supporters genuinely believe in what I’m trying to achieve here, and believe in what I’m trying to do in taking this club forward.
I believe, that with a bit of patience, the Football League is genuinely not beyond us in the years to come. But firstly, we have to begin to build a sustainable league infrastructure and the next stage of that must start now.
I believe if the town and our supporters really do want league football, if they really share my ambition, then they must help me to create a different mind-set amongst the towns folk, and if they do, they help me to create an improved support base.
As I’ve said many times, we’ve improved our club, improved our community coaching and improved our management structure. We’ve improved our academy structure, we’ve improved our football team, we’ve created more jobs for local people, and we’ve created third party spend within the town, and that in turn helps our local economy.
So as I keep saying, if I can get the residents, supporters and council on board, if I can get our local counsellors and the council’s planners on board, then we are going to begin building the North Stand and that end of the ground, in May.
But, I still need as part of my argument to the local council, and to the Football Foundation, an average support base that remains over 700 people. So, I need people to understand that they need to help me in this area. Then if all parties agree, and I expect them too, a smart new covered North Stand for the home fans will most certainly be built.
Again, these things will need people’s consent, but I feel that the East Stand re planning will be far more problematic. But with proper consultation and productive meetings, we hope to begin in May 2019, or May 2020, if we are held up by red tape.
I genuinely feel that our on-site improvement at BWFC, creates a win win situation for everyone local. As, it will also increase house values within the streets that surround the football club. Why?? Because it tidies things up, because the landscaping hides the new stand, because it encloses the stadium on all sides instantly and because an ugly wall is then replaced with a tree lined back drop.
CD… Finally Danny, as I said before, it’s really feeling positive around the club and the dressing room at present. People are quietly thinking that the impossible is possible, but it is football, so what happens if it all goes wrong?
DH… Well after nearly 20-years as chairman here, if it does go wrong we’ll dust ourselves down and go again. We’ll thank everyone for an amazing effort over the season, and if we’ve fallen short, we’ll get back on the horse and get ready for next season. We can do that knowing we would of surpassed most people’s expectations, but perhaps not ours.
Craig, everyone has to remember, this is such a challenging league to be a part of and to be sitting fifth with our support and resources, is for me, dream land ridiculous. So just to be competing in a National League with the likes of Tranmere, Wrexham and Leyton Orient, is an incredible achievement, from my staff, our dressing room, our supporters and our sponsors
In truth, I still have to pinch myself that we’re not just competing at a National level, but we’re now challenging at a National level.
CD… Thank you again for your time and your candour Mr Chairman, and like you said, it’s amazing that we sit fifth in what is predominantly a full-time league, and the Wembley dream lives on.
DH… My pleasure Craig – remember belief in what we’re all doing is key, good recruitment is also key, and good staff and players are essential. Hopefully with hard work, hard work, hard work and of course a bit of luck. The impossible you speak of really can become possible, but please don’t quote me on that and please don’t hold your breath haha.