Boreham Wood Football Club are pleased to announce that they will be taking up the contract options on ‘keeper Ryan Huddart, defenders Jamal Fyfield and Femi Ilesanmi, our skipper Mark Ricketts, plus teenage talent Sorba Thomas and young striker Bradley Ash, for next season.

The Wood Chairman Danny Hunter and Manager Luke Garrard feel this announcement shows the confidence that they both have in our present squad. While, acknowledging that the team will be allowed to evolve and to progress, with more time, patience and investment being sought and put in place to improve the squad.

It’s an announcement aimed at creating a settled environment – and takes away the unsettling nature of both this and the next two transfer windows and hopefully dispels any disruption from player agents… It will allow our players to fully concentrate on the rest of what is still a very important season, knowing that their futures are now very much sorted for both this and next season.

It also ensures that our anticipated squad rebuild over the next six months, will be a much smaller job than we’ve had to encounter over the last few years and will allow for our recruitment to be based more on player quality.

The club’s long-term planning strategy has long been underway, both on and off the park. That has been shown in regards to our new North Stand planning application being approved and with a number of quality players already contracted to us for next season.

These signings include club captain David Stephens, as well as Keiran Murtagh, Tom Champion, Ricky Shakes, Kane Smith and Danny Woodards…

Wood Chairman Danny Hunter said: “In truth, you sometimes have to be both good cop and bad cop, while remaining a realist. For a club of our size to remain at this level is hard enough; simply staying at National league level is success to a football club of our size – but we will try to achieve more, as that’s our nature, and no matter what, in the end it will come down to good recruitment, good management, value for money, and what we can afford…

“It’s been clear to me for some time, that some of our newer supporters either don’t understand or appreciate the strength in this league, and I sense their frustration at our very respectable league position, but that is based on last season’s successes and not reality.

“I do have to chuckle, when our newer and younger fans expect us to challenge on average home gates of just over 700 supporters, and pretty much all of our new support base is built because of our incredibly cheap season ticket offers… That is not a basis that would ever allow us to expect to challenge at National League level without further investment on my part, an amazing cup run, or without me creating an improved business model with even more diverse income streams, and to that end I’m trying…

“If you asked any of the big clubs we are up against like Hartlepool, Barnet, Halifax, Maidstone, Aldershot and Chesterfield, who all sit below us in the league, and are historically much bigger clubs than us – other than perhaps Barnet – who have plenty of games in hand – those clubs above would all like to swap league positions with ourselves…

“I believe for a club of our size, we are seen as a pretty successful and well-run non-league club? A club who does look to improve itself without breaking the bank… As such, the players we are moving forward with, all know me, Luke Garrard, the club, and our ethos well – because of that, I’ve got great faith in this very loyal, and hard-working group of people. That group includes my young gaffer and his assistant Cameron Mawer, who are also incredibly hard working and ambitious individuals.

“We are lucky to have a loyal if small long-standing fan base, a loyal group of long serving day-to-day staff, and an ever-improving medical department and backroom staff. As such, I’m more than confident that our structure still works, it’s been built up over many years and it will I hope, keep us moving forward… 

“I know we’ve been inconsistent this season, and I know we’ve lacked a cutting edge at key moments. But, this is a new squad, it’s a squad that’s been crippled with injuries all season and we’ve tried to play that down. This squad has had to be versatile, because we’ve also carried just 15 or 16 senior players, plus four or five from our academy all season, to remain within budget…

“Other than Braintree, Maidenhead, Havant and perhaps Gateshead? Our budget is smaller than all of the bigger clubs, and trust me, we’re still some way behind the Aldershots, Maidstones, Barrows and Halifaxs of this world – that is a fact, but as each season goes by, we are getting closer to their budgets, albeit slower than I would want… 

“So, I feel after four seasons as a National League club, that we are still thankfully pulling up trees just to compete at this level. I cannot emphasise enough, what Luke, and Cameron achieve, what my staff within our structure and academy achieve and what the loyalty of our long-standing sponsors actually gives us… As, it’s not only my investment but our structure, our partners and our academy success, that helps me underpin our playing budget and allows us to compete and achieve.

“So, I will continue to work hard for our club, our community and our town, and I have nothing but admiration for this dressing room, my staff, and players, for what they’re giving me, giving our supporters, and giving this town as an underdog club, not only on a day to day basis, but season after season…

“My job though, is to ensure I now create an improved budget that ensures we don’t drop into the pack of clubs fighting the dreaded drop this season. And, I believe if the boys continue to be competitive in the short term, then there are ways and certain contracts that I’m signing off on, that will improve our club… 

“These contracts, these builds, and these agreements will further improve our site, improve our income streams and further improve our budget for next season. And, if I can complete just a few of these new deals in the next 12 weeks, then I can grow our structure further, and get our budget improved for next season in a sensible way, in what is going to be a talented, hugely inflated, large budgeted and cash rich division…

“If possible, I’d like to give Luke a budget to bring in four or five real bits of quality to enhance our already hard-working dressing room. And, if we can find the right type of players, then who knows where that could take us?? But to do that, I’ll need to see if local people are going to back the club by taking us up on our amazing season ticket offers. If they do that, then it would convince me to invest more and if that happens, we might just surprise a few like we did last season…

“If they don’t back us, then they mustn’t complain if I question theirs and the town’s commitment to the club, as it’s difficult for good players to perform in an empty and quiet Meadow Park… That said, next season is almost seven months away, we’ve still got a top half finish to aim for this season and I’m hopeful we can retain the Herts Senior Cup…

“I’ve also got to continue with our stadium builds and facility improvement over the remainder of this season and the summer – which is proving problematic…

“But for Luke and myself not to have a complete squad rebuild to oversee in May, June and July, does represent quiet progress, represent great housekeeping and represent intelligent planning… As I don’t care who you are – no club, no chairman and no manager with our budget, would find it easy to sit where we are, after having to replace the likes of Grant Smith, Bruno Andrade, Dean Wells, Morgan Ferrier and Jamie Turley. But that’s what we had to do last pre-season, plus we had to cope with Kane Smith’s season long injury, his operation, and his rehab after he did his ACL in the play-off game with Fylde last May.

“There’s also no doubt in my mind, that we suffered a big play-off final hangover after our Wembley loss to Tranmere, and that hangover went on over the whole summer and into this season. But, we can say proudly, that we did beat Fylde, we did beat Sutton and we did get ourselves to Wembley. So, these experiences can only help us deal with any success or setbacks that we’ll encounter in the future…

“And, it was only through our play-off success and our trip to Wembley, that we managed to attract so many new Wood supporters and hit record season ticket sales – and I genuinely hope they will stick with us, though I’ve got absolutely no idea or indicators if they will.

“If they decide we’re value for money and take us up on our even cheaper and better value season ticket offer for next season, then I’m hopeful we could well achieve record season ticket sales once again and have a positive season…

“Last season’s offer attracted Wood supporters not only from Borehamwood, but from Radlett, from Shenley, from Bushey and from Watford. In fact, they went to fans who live in Stevenage and Biggleswade and we even attracted more than a few new fans from within the North London postcodes of Wingate, Finchley, Barnet and Edgware – who are all now regularly attending…

“But, we’ve struggled to attract any sort of crowd to Meadow Park for some pretty big cup games this season. Possibly because our £100 season ticket doesn’t allow entry to cup competitions? As such, we were at a disadvantage against the likes of Dunfermline Athletic, Dagenham and Torquay United in the bigger cup competitions, as the away support outnumbered the home fans and that was a big disappointment to me and the dressing room…

“I feel many of the people took up our season ticket offer before our play-off defeat, because they knew we were potentially just 90 minutes away from the Football League and the possibility of league football for £100 was an offer too good to miss – but that’s not going to be the case this season.

“As such, we will still need every one of our old school fans, and as many of the newer members of our growing Wood Army to renew and hopefully they’ll encourage others to buy our £99 season tickets…

“If they do, it will help us to not only remain in the National League, but give us a better chance to achieve a positive atmosphere to help with our loftier ambitions… I also hope that some of our newer fans are now getting to understand our club a little more and realise that we still have the lowest average National League crowd year on year, and that stat does obviously have a bearing on our budget and it does matter…

“Perhaps we’re all guilty of expecting a bit too much, and I can understand why some are getting frustrated with our league position. However, I feel if we are sitting anywhere from 10th to 16th come this season’s end – after losing the players that we did, then that would actually show progress, as we could have crumbled…

“I’m still a supporter at heart, and even I’ve needed to take a step back recently to realise both my own and our limitations. As, I do feel people’s frustration, especially with our Southport and Blyth cup performances. But with key injuries, and such a small squad, perhaps they weren’t so bad and were on reflection more than understandable?? But, I also know that my negativity achieves nothing and my own frustrations were starting to grate on me… So, I ask everyone to stay positive, to stick with us, and to appreciate that our climb through the league pyramid and our current league position is still amazing, when we look at the bigger picture.

“We should remember, there are some pretty big ex-league clubs presently sitting in the relegation places. These are big clubs like Maidstone, Aldershot and Chesterfield – who I assume would all wish to be sitting where we are at present, and that’s the reality of where we are… 

“I believe for our club, for our community programme and for our football club to be where it is at the moment, is a real achievement. But, last season’s many successes now muddy the waters and our expectation levels are still way too high and off the scale. So, I urge everyone reading this to please get behind us and please take me up on our value for money £99, £80, £50 or £30 season ticket offers – which can be purchased by clicking HERE. 

“For your money, many of you will get a free replica shirt and all of you will get our subsidised travel club benefits, our travel club breakfast offers, quarterly newsletters and all of the other things that we offer our community over a season, and our season covers 46 games… 

“I must be honest with our fan base and make everyone aware, that I cannot see us in the foreseeable future being able to compete financially with the Salfords, Wrexhams, Orients, Fyldes, Harrogates, Ebbsfleets, Suttons, Bromleys, Chesterfields, Hartlepools, Solihulls, Dagenhams, Eastleighs, Aldershots, Maidstones, Barrows, Halifaxs and most of the others who’ll no doubt get promoted this season. But what I can say, is I’ve been here 20 years, we’ll continue with our small steps approach and we’ll enjoy magic moments as and when they come – in what is now pretty much a full time league…

“Also in the near future, I’ll be asking that the Wood Army and our current season ticket holders attend a Q and A with myself and Luke, so we can update you on our plans, on things that include our facility, our first team, our academy and our financials for next season and beyond.”

THANK YOU ALL ONCE AGAIN FOR YOUR LOYALTY AND YOUR SUPPORT

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