Today we welcome the Directors, Management, players and supporters of Kings Lynn Town FC to the LV Bet Stadium, Meadow Park. We hope they enjoy their stay with us and have a safe journey home.
Well, what can I say that I haven’t said before to our local Council, it’s Officers and Councillors, to all our present and past club partners, to my Chief Executive, my amazing Manager, my incredible staff, this group of amazing players, to our loyal sponsors and, of course, to you the ‘Wood Army’ who have stood at my side throughout both the good and bad times during my 23 seasons as Chairman of this great football club.
This week has been a week of reflection, looking back, and also looking to the future, as I become the longest serving Chairman in Boreham Wood Football Club’s history, I remember those who stood with me in those early days who have sadly left this earth too early and I thank so many others who believed in my vision, even if they thought me crazy at the time.
I hope though that you all know, that it’s been one of the greatest honours of my life, in that I’ve been allowed to serve my community, my town and you the supporters who knew that no matter what the outcome, I always did my best.
Throughout my tenure I’ve always tried to think of the bigger picture, by improving not only the things the fans wanted on the pitch but also the structures that would allow the club to thrive off the pitch, in terms of an ever-improving facility and a vision that will I hope stretch itself to one day put us in the Football League.
I hope my work here has perhaps brought back some of the love and pride that I felt when my father managed this club back in the sixties and seventies. Back then it was a great local community football club that stood for everything great in local football and has an old school community involvement. In truth I felt in the sixties when growing up around the club that we just loved it to its core because of the people who were involved back then and even now I say my prayers quietly for those great characters who shaped my life and helped build our football club albeit in a bygone era.
I hope in recent years that you have all gained a new sense of pride and love in regards to your football club, while enjoying to the max these halcyon days of success, with new friendships forged each and every Saturday, that will I know stand the test of time.
If I’ve played my part in any of that, then I’ve achieved a great chunk of what I set out to do way back in 1999 and together i now think we may have achieved that? You will often here me say in my programme notes that “god loves a trier”, and if that is true, then I feel that my town often chose to cut one of its own in myself some much-appreciated slack, certainly in the toughest of moments and in the toughest of times, when I possibly made some of my biggest mistakes.
You seemed to always recognise that I had tried my very best and, though my very best was sometimes not quite good enough, you accepted that my love and my endeavours on yours and our football club behalf, were heartfelt and genuine. So, it’s for those reasons, I feel, you showed me the patience that I needed at the time to rebuild a club that was on its knees when I walked through the door and allowed me to give it back to the people of this town – only it’s now a shiny, much improved and slicker community model haha.
When I look back to my inexperienced arrival here in 1999, I have to acknowledge that I failed to improve things on and off the pitch quickly enough in those very early years but I was I suppose trying to juggle my film prop master career, my other companies, build a Sports Education Academy while bringing up five young children – but when I look back, it was always very clear that our old school supporter’s loyalty and togetherness would help get me through that very difficult period.
In was because we all worked so hard together to overcome many of my shortcomings, that I learnt so quickly, and it’s a fact that when I did get things wrong which was often, you always stood by me because, as I said earlier, “god loves a trier” and for that you will always have my eternal thanks.
In all honesty, your support for me and the club that I’ve tried to build for you, has tested both mine and your patience to the very limit at times – but I feel it’s because you always trusted and stood with me during that process, that it was the supporter’s patience and trust, that allowed me to stand the test of time as your Chairman.
Your patience back then, and even more so in recent years, has allowed us to enjoy this incredible season to date, which has given us all the most incredible of memories that we’ve now taken into our workplace, into the cafes and into the pubs. We’ve talked about our victories in our living rooms and around the kitchen table, while even our local,shop keepers and retailers are happy because you’re all spending more time in the high street….in fact those Cup Goals and our victories are now etched in Boreham Wood Football Club’s folk law forever.
Those incredible winning seasons we enjoyed periodically since 1999 and our many cup wins, have brought us so many memories, these seasons are also now etched into the club’s history books forever. They include in my tenure us winning two incredible league titles, in us gaining two other never to be forgotten Play-Off promotions against Kingstonian and then Whitehawk, which enabled us to finally take our place at the very top table of non-league football – oh my god, those days were tearful, they were wondrous, they were also incredibly stressful but we won so they were simply magnificent – but let’s always remember it was a team effort and together we did it.
We’ve also as a club, town and community enjoyed getting ourselves to the hallowed turf of Wembley itself and walking together up Wembley Way, that was a memory I shared with so many of you. Whilst not forgetting the more local cups, in the nine Herts Senior Cup finals that we’ve played, that included five superb wins.
There are the many personal memories that involve the numerous and quite magical FA Cup 1st, 2nd and 3rd Round Proper incursions, that must now include a quite wondrous trip to AFC Bournemouth next Sunday in the FA Cup 4th Round. I can in fact report to you that our 1,390 away ticket allocation has been completely sold out and I’m told most of the hotels in Bournemouth have been sold out also – so enjoy your weekend, behave yourselves and please represent our town well and understand we all represent our club and the sporting chance that we’ve been given.
Those cup runs above have been immense and have included memorable victories over league opponents in Blackpool, Southend United and now AFC Wimbledon. However, more than any other, this FA Cup run has I feel simply surpassed them all and united our club, our town, our wider community, and both the old and new members of the Wood Army now sing from the same hymn sheet.
It feels to me that we stand here today as one, we stand here in unison, as we send Luke, his magnificent management team and our history making players to Bournemouth next Sunday with all our hopes, our dreams and our aspirations intact, but most importantly we send them to Bournemouth with our utmost respect, love and best wishes.
In truth I genuinely feel that our club, our town and our community have more than deserved this latest run in the FA Cup, as it has seen us beat our local rivals Barnet 1-0 away, beaten a good Eastleigh side 2-0, we’ve walloped St Albans City 4-0 live on TV, and giant killed a giant killer in AFC Wimbledon 2-0 and we’ll no doubt now attempt to write yet another chapter in our football club’s history on the South Coast next Sunday….but let me say for the record, if we fail, then we will fail together with pride, with honour and a togetherness in our veins, but trust me we’ll be giving you everything we’ve got and that’s a promise.
Can I also remind those of you who are going to AFC Bournemouth next week, that we want you to collect your free FA Cup flags with you to paint our end black and white….these free flags are now available on production of your ticket receipt from the club shop today or from the ticket office situated in the car park throughout next week. Please ensure that you pick up your flag, as to see 1,400 Wood flags waving when the players walk out next week on live TV will be an awesome sight.
Anyway, enough of my waffle and thank you once again for your support. Now let’s get back to today’s game and the task in hand, as we face the obstacle of overcoming an ever-improving Kings Lynn Town outfit here at Meadow Park.
Luke and the dressing room already know the problems in front of them this afternoon and they now know that with two very important cup games to navigate following today’s game, that a home win is vital if we are to keep ourselves nicely placed in the Play-Off positions.
We can now see that we will fall slightly behind with our league fixtures in the coming weeks, which then makes it difficult to catch up on until mid-March, this will then make April and May that much harder – that said, that is the price you pay for cup success and in truth myself, Luke, Charlie, my staff, players and the Wood Army wouldn’t have it any other way.
Finally, whoever you support let’s hope for an open attacking game and may the best team win.
Take care, stay safe and I hope to see you all in good voice on the South Coast.