Boreham Wood Chairman Danny Hunter gave thanks to everyone, ahead of a huge final match of the season today, against Guiseley, where the Wood could secure a play-off spot.
Today, we welcome our good friends from Guiseley to Meadow Park. May I wish their directors, manager, players and supporters a pleasant stay with us and a safe journey home.
Well, last week was a bit of a mixed bag, where we won the Herts Senior Cup against Royston Town for the sixth time, but then let a two-goal lead slip at Bromley and lost 3-2.
That defeat and what’s been a bit of a blip, has brought us to today and this has become a must win league game, that will we hope, take us into the play-offs.
I’m sure there will be a few nerves and a bit of apprehension around our stadium today, and that is perhaps only normal. But I fully expect us to see through a season of hard work with a well-deserved, if hard fought, victory.
Guiseley fans must forgive me, if I concentrate my notes today on my sponsors, staff, on our supporters, on our dressing room and on our club – but I do have an awful lot of people to thank for us sitting sixth in the National League.
Firstly, if I’m doing a bit of a recap, it’s probably prudent to begin approximately a year ago today, with our final league away trip to Chester last season and us finally finishing eleventh.
That was a day which was one of my most painful days in football and trust me, it should not have been. Why?? Because, certain individuals at the time were undermining our club togetherness, our progress as a club and in truth only cared about themselves and their very unproductive disposition of me, me, me…
I was in truth, unsure about how to deal with things at that point, so I decided to do nothing and concentrate my energies on our new training pitch build, our new floodlight system, our new dugout build and on our academy recruitment. While watching with interest, how the first few weeks of our post-season would pan out.
Like any football family, you will always have issues to deal with and our dressing room family was no different. Luckily, we skilfully, or patiently, allowed individual disruption and nonsense to leave us of their own accord, and by the time pre-season had arrived, we’d only lost two people who we really did want to keep, namely, the irreplaceable Morgan Ferrier and the ever-reliable Femi Ilesanmi.
By this point though, our building site of a facility last summer, was in full swing. The May and June builds in 2017 were nothing but pressure deadline wise, but our daytime staff, squad and backroom staff were taking shape.
We’d by now gotten rid of certain individuals, and their negativity was replaced with a different mind-set, with Dean Wells, Kane Smith, Keiran Murtagh, Tom Champion, Paul Benson, Shaun Jeffers and Bradley Ash all arriving.
We’d put together a new backroom staff of Terry Harris, Micky Engwell, analyst Charles Nichol and also promoted Head Academy coach Cameron Mawer up from within.
Luke Garrard was of course now a year older, but more importantly, possibly a year wiser and he seemed far more experienced, and who wouldn’t be after completing his first full season in the managerial hot seat.
I had, as always, ensured that attitude, discipline and desire was foremost in both my staff’s minds and their thinking. While the playing budgets, codes of conduct, processes and procedures would be followed. It was I feel with that type of mind-set, that the dressing room was sent on its first ever pre-season training camp, to my friend John Brend’s impeccable hotel in Barnstaple, to have a fitness and bonding week.
In the meantime, our incredible first team pitch was being completed with just a day to spare in pre-season, and suddenly, I felt that hope does spring eternal and the club felt positive again, as the camp returned from Barnstaple.
I also knew both myself and my day staff, couldn’t of worked any harder last pre-season and like any of you who are reading this; when you’ve done your very best, you feel good about yourself and I felt confident about what might just lay around the corner for us.
Luke and the dressing had definitely come back from Barnstaple with a different mind-set and you could just feel the energy, the closeness and of course the camaraderie within most of the group and as such, I felt it was money well spent.
We did need to add one or two bits of quality – of course we did. But, by pre-season’s end, we had lost striker Bradley Ash to a season-long anterior cruciate ligament injury and ‘Wellsy’ would also miss the start of the season with a hamstring injury. Bradley’s injury though, allowed Bruno Andrade the chance to play up front and as we all know – some 20 goals later, he has certainly taken his opportunity.
In the meantime, we signed centre back Jamie Turley on loan from Newport, while Mr Wenger and Arsenal officially opened our new Desso pitch and we were off and running in our third season in the National league, with a 2-2 draw away at Fylde.
By September, we’d played well at times, but thrown away a number of points. We’d lost five times and at that point we were in danger of settling for mid-table. Thankfully, October and November brought the FA Cup and after seeing off our local rivals St Albans City 3-1 and subsequently Blackpool 2-1, our league form improved accordingly, and we were now bona fide play-off hopefuls.
Our brand-new training facility build had gone down very well with both the community and our local football clubs, while our PASE Academy had hit record recruitment numbers for the 15th straight year. It was a year in which we actually had five of our lads selected for the England Colleges squad – what an honour!!!!
On the business front, things were going well for me, so it allowed me to give Luke a little more in the budget and that in turn allowed Blair Turgott and Dan Holman to come in to strengthen our ranks – didn’t Blackpool get the brunt of those two decisions haha, as they both scored in our historic win…
Christmas came and went, the pitch had never looked better and most of our new staff had I felt settled in nicely. Declan Robinson and our new apprentice Conor Liddell were, alongside our normal groundsman Daniel Hunter, producing a playing surface to die for and the improvement was there for everyone to see.
Craig Draycott, our media and communications manager, after a nervy start, was doing great things with the website, social media and departmental communication. And, it felt like our supporters were enjoying the better communication and service, that we were providing?
Luke’s backroom staff seemed content and my thoughts were quietly turning to us being a real promotion team with a chance of a title push. It was clear to me though, for that to happen, I needed to re-raise the budget a tad and we would need our recruitment to be at its best from January until the end of March to stand a chance.
We would of course need to be lucky with injuries and suspensions, but I was confident that a top three finish was possible, with a little bit of Lady Luck.
The gods it seemed were shining down on me, when due to some mismanagement at Dagenham & Redbridge, the opportunity arose to re-sign our star striker Morgan Ferrier.
It took myself and Luke about a millisecond to agree, that I should spend a few bob on bringing ‘Morgs’ back here. Luckily, Morgan was also adamant that he only wanted to come home, and wanted to fire us and himself to either promotion or the play-offs – so please beware Guiseley defenders today, as ‘Morgs’ is coming to getcha haha.
Off the pitch, I had already started to re-evaluate my day-to-day staff, plus re-look at the club and my ambitions for next season. And, I finally managed, after burning the midnight oil, to get through our North Stand planning application in February after a year-and-three-months of red tape.
I had endured meetings about meetings, I’d altered plans, visuals and of course suffered the necessary quiet negotiations – no matter though, the application was through and I could finally give my supporters that covered end they had waited 70 years for and now deserved.
On the field, the FA Trophy dream came and went, while another two-goal lead was given away up in Gateshead. That said, our league form was still holding out and the hope was, that we could still mount a title or top three challenge.
The U19s academy elite were going along nicely, but I felt they perhaps lacked the strength of the group from the year before, and the chances of them being double National champions again this season, simply wasn’t realistic.
By now, the tenders were coming in for the new North Stand build and the meetings with myself, The Football Foundation, the Safety Advisory Group, Planners, Stand Contractors and league officials was all in full swing.
The meetings were in the main productive, but in truth very boring, and as we stand presently, they’re still not concluded, but obviously still very much a priority.
With a month of the season left, we had suddenly hit third in the league, albeit very briefly, and for a fleeting moment, the impossible was being talked about. Three weeks later and a defeat at Bromley had people doubting that we would even make the play-offs – but that’s football…
By now, my belief in this club, in what I’m doing, in my staff, in my dressing room and in my business partners, is still total and absolute. Today I can say, without even one doubt in my mind, that we will win, we will march into the play-offs and come 5pm, we will be either fourth, fifth or sixth.
So, can I say to my sponsors, to my day-to-day staff, to my dressing room and my management team, to my stadium caterers, my hospitality staff, my kit staff, gate staff, stewards, ball boys, ground-staff, cleaners, club shop, 50/50 sellers and above all, to you our very loyal supporters…
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your help this season, for your patience over the years. Thank you for believing in me and what I’m trying to achieve here when so many others doubted me and thank you all for your humour and togetherness.
Remember just how crazy this is, because we’re just four monumental wins away from the Football League… Of course, nobody expects us to do anything and nobody will give us a prayer. But let’s hope that come 5pm tonight, that it’s down to three monumental wins and the play off dream is still alive…
If it is – buckle up and enjoy the ride haha, as who the hell wants to play little old Boreham Wood in the play-offs??
It’s over to you,