Boreham Wood Football Club Chairman Danny Hunter, spoke exclusively to our Media and Communications manager Craig Draycott, after yesterday’s important 2-1 home league win, against rivals Woking, and ahead of next week’s historical FA Cup trip up to Coventry City.
It was a win that has once again raised expectation amongst the Wood faithful, having taken the club into one off the coveted playoff positions; getting everyone excited about the season thus far.
CD… Thanks for sparing me a few minutes Chairman.
DH… That’s fine Craig.
CD… Well Chairman, after yesterday’s hard-fought victory, and with the team now unbeaten in twelve games, in all competitions; expectation levels are understandably rising.
Can you give us your thoughts ahead of next week’s big FA Cup tie with Coventry, and your expectations in both the league and the cup?
DH… Yes of course… My underlying feeling is one of real pride in what we’ve built and what we’re achieving here. It’s a feeling of 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’m not one to get carried away, especially in November, as you win nothing in football at this time of year. But I am hoping, with my staff, to keep improving our football club, our mind-sets, the squad strength and continue our momentum over the next eight weeks. As it’s important for us to strengthen our ranks from a position of strength, and not wait until we hit a sticky patch.
As for next week I hope the town does what it did against Blackpool and really turns out for us. I hope the players now genuinely believe in not only themselves, but in our club philosophy, regarding attitude, discipline and desire, because if they do, then we’re in for one hell of a day.
When I enquired today Craig, about Cup tickets sold and coach seats booked. I’m told that the town is mobilising for next week, and we are now possibly taking six coach loads of supporters up to the Ricoh Arena.
But just as importantly, we’re also taking up our mencap and community groups with us and that pleases me immensely…As it means everybody is involved and everyone is included. As I understand it, we’ve also got hundreds, who’ve bought their train tickets already and plenty of cars are full and will be heading up the M1, so it’s an exciting time for us all.
CD… Having been Chairman here since 1999 Danny, you’ve obviously been part of and seen so many cup campaigns, and in particular big FA Cup moments.
But, having beaten our local rivals St Albans, then a league club for the first time, in 1953 cup winners Blackpool, and now having drawn another previous cup winner in Coventry City, have you ever known anything like the interest in the club, that we are witnessing now?
DH… As a local man Craig, I remember all the previous big games, as I go back to the sixties and seventies. I remember the excitement of the Southend and Swindon Town Cup ties, as a kid especially. But to now be the Chairman of your local club, is a dream for me, as I can help create something like this.
But, this does feel like we’re going to another level, because it’s the best side we’ve ever produced, and we’re a club that’s perhaps awoken something in terms of pride, and belief within our town, and in each other.
That sense of purpose is all around me and I’m proud of our progress. And, to of overseen what we’ve built, is being rewarded, with so many of my friends, my family, and our town, all becoming so emotionally involved again with the club, through this cup run, and makes me happy and slightly emotional.
Our fans, our sponsors, local councillors, my staff, the local schools and it seems the whole community, have all bought into the magic once again of the FA Cup. They’re all so excited, to the point that everyone I speak to, seems to be finding a way to get themselves up to Coventry. I’ve got my sons, my daughter in laws, the grand kids, my brothers, my nephews, my pals and even my accountant haha travelling.
As I said, we’ve got them going up on the official coaches, up on the official minibuses, but they’re also going up in their cars, up on the trains and up on their own coaches and minibuses. So, we’ll definitely have a voice up there on the day, and if I have one concern, it’s that I’m a little worried that we don’t turn up on the pitch and do ourselves, and them all justice on the day.
But then I dismiss that one negative thought, and picture how Coventry will feel when we knock them out of the FA Cup haha.
I do believe though, that all doubts or nerves, if channelled correctly, can be a good thing. Because it focuses the mind, and we know in our position that we must control the negatives, embrace them and they must be used as part of a strong mind-set, if we are to have the ultimate conclusion to an underdogs day.
We know though, to follow our game plan, that we must be completely in control of our emotions, and trust me when I say this, I have such faith in Luke, our dressing room and I just know that they will be ready, come 2pm next Sunday…We’re going up there to go toe-to-toe with Coventry, and we’ll be ready to represent our supporters, our town, and I believe we’ll perform on the day.
We are now in the 2nd round proper of the FA Cup for only the second time in our history, and we like how this makes us feel. We ultimately want to be a league club one day and we know what we will have to do to achieve that. So genuine belief and planning going forward, will be our key to success.
As a club from the bottom up, we’ve been put together carefully, and trust me we’re so together, we genuinely have no fear, we’ve got no financial pressures and that means we’ll play with freedom.
For me at my age, it’s now about shared memories, it’s about the collective glory, and it’s about adding yet another chapter to our club’s 70 year history. We know we perhaps have a one in ten chance next Sunday, to give our town, our supporters, another one of those incredible Blackpool moments.
But I will take a ten percent chance, as it means we still have a chance of knocking out a Cup giant in Coventry City. It’s still a chance of taking a memory with us to the grave, and with our togetherness, and with that little bit of Lady Luck that you need, we have every intention of winning a game of football, and going through to the FA Cup 3rd round…
CD… Well Chairman, you’ve now got me believing and there’s still a week to go. But, after today’s league win against Woking, you must also be very happy with how our league campaign is going?
We’ve taken seven points in the last week, from three teams who were all above us and sitting in the top eight. Those seven points have us now sitting seventh in the National league table, and must fill you with hope, for the rest of the season?
Is it foolish for any of us to believe that the playoffs, or promotion to the football league, is even remotely possible? Or are we just getting carried away with cup fever, and currently in a false league position?
DH… Firstly, yes, we are in a false league position, as we should in truth be higher up in this league and that’s not an overstatement on my part in anyway Craig… And no Craig, it’s never foolish for you, me or anyone to believe in something if you work as hard as we do in life to achieve it, that’s how dreams come true…
We all striving to find a bit of success, a bit of happiness and a few magic moments to sustain us throughout our lives. So, whether it’s in your family life, it’s in your business life, or whether it’s life in general. We all want something to look forward to and somewhere, where we feel we belong.
That’s what this club now means to me, it gives me a sense of pride and belonging, it’s become a huge part of my world, it’s become a big part of my family and it’s become as important to me as the air I breath.
Success has come along for this club in recent years, when I’ve least expected it, and it’s come along in various guises and not just on the pitch. But for me, belief is always key to what I’m building and what I’m doing here. Belief for me, means that you, me, the staff, Luke, our dressing room, and the Wood Army, can all carry hope, carry optimism and carry a winning mind-set up to the Ricoh Arena.
Belief means we will carry a strong mind-set, which means we can get to the 3rd round proper of the FA Cup, we can make the playoffs this season, and if you believe Craig, if we believe and the fans believe, then together we can all achieve the impossible.
For me, even at my age, I find it far more foolish when people go through life without wanting or craving for those impossible dreams to come true. Without say a Leicester City having unrealistic hopes, without Leicester having unrealistic ambitions and without Leicester’s players having had that true belief in each other, and what they were doing, every day, do you think they would of ever won the Premiership??
My opinion for what it’s worth, is that we are a very good side, we’re in a playoff position because we deserve to be, and I think with belief, we’ll be there come the season’s end. I believe that because of what I’ve built, because we have a talented gaffer, because we have a talented squad, because we have talented and hardworking staff, and because we have built a club with a fantastic work ethic.
CD… Having only joined you in the summer Chairman, I can certainly vouch for the whole club’s work ethic and the values that are instilled in everyone here. But can I for one minute, park the league form, park the cup game, and now discuss your vision of how this club will look in the future?
I have obviously seen those amazing visuals, unveiled in our match day programme today. The possibility of us having two new stands, and the type of facility you intimate, is jaw dropping.
I’ve been told to tell you from the Wood Army, that there is now so much genuine interest and excitement from everyone about the club. But especially from the diehard supporters, who reside behind the goal on match days.
They’ve told me to tell you, that it’s clear that you’ve listened to their wants and their issues. For example, the fact that they were standing in the rain, at the end of today’s match, and that they get soaked most weeks.
So, for them to possibly be getting a new covered stand at their end, is fantastic news, and it can help them to create a real atmosphere at that end of the ground.
But, it also shows Chairman, that their support is valued and that they are listened too. It’s also pretty impressive Danny, that you are aiming to start the North stand project in April/May 2018, and then start the new East stand project, the following May in 2019.
In reality, just how realistic are those timelines?
DH…Firstly, of course I listen to the supporters Craig, but sometimes it’s more than difficult to be all things to all people. We have always had to be realistic in what is both affordable and achievable. We must always evaluate the budget without ever over-reaching ourselves. I’ve patiently, with my staff, built this club under my Chairmanship step-by-step. And as a rule, I’ve not taken too many risks or short cuts to get here. As for the projects timelines, I’ve now gone on record with them as I feel they’re all very realistic.
But, they’re only realistic I suppose Craig, if people genuinely want to believe in this club’s future and in what I’m trying to achieve here. As my dreams are not just for the football club, but for our whole community. If I can get people to genuinely believe in what I’m trying to achieve, in taking this club forward, then they will buy into the concept of improving things locally for everyone, and it’s then a win, win situation for the community at large.
The word I keep using, is belief Craig, and if you go through this interview, it has intentionally on my part, kept coming up. But in truth, its because it’s the key to everything that I want to achieve here, and if I’m going to achieve any further success with my staff, then local people, local councillors and the council planners, are going to have to believe in what I’m doing and back me.
If the town and our supporters really want sustained success, then they must stop looking for reasons to doubt our motives to improve things on our door step and back them. Trust me, getting local investment is good, improving our facilities is only ever going to be a good thing. As it create’s positive mindsets and an improved working and sporting environment.
Local investment will only enhance our community coaching initiatives, as it creates an improved academy programme, it creates a better football club, and it can only create more jobs for local people, plus it will create third party spend within our town, not just on match days, but every day.
That in turn helps our local businesses, helps our local restaurants, helps our local newsagents, our local bakeries, our local shops, our local public houses and it does reduce local crime, increases local pride and it is great for the local economy.
So, I do believe that if I can get the local residents and the council on board. If I can get our local counsellors, it’s officers and the council’s planning department to believe in me, then yes, we are going to begin the north end of the ground, sooner rather than later.
I also believe, I can get our local residents on-board by seeing the positives. Why? because there really are no downsides.
A Smart new north stand, will only help with the overall look of Broughinge Road, it would also save the houses directly behind the North end part of the ground, from any ball damage. That’s something that will solve a problem instantly, and it’s a problem that the local residents have moaned about for many years.
Plus, I plan on putting together a planting scheme, that includes a conifer landscaping plan. That again would instantly Improve the whole look of Broughinge Road and would enhance every house sight line, with a nice tree lined back drop.
This would I believe, help increase house values within the street, especially those that sit directly behind the goal at the home end. I would bare those landscaping costs, and it would in essence, hide the new stand and instantly take away, what has always been an ugly and unsightly bland perimeter wall, that I inherited in 1999, when I first got here, and its still an eyesore.
CD… Well Chairman, thanks again for sparing me a bit of time and sharing your thoughts. It just leaves me to say, good luck in the cup next week, good luck for the league and good luck with your proposed new stands and deadlines.
Keep believing, keep making us believe and let’s hope Coventry gives us all another one of those un-forgetful moments
DH… Thank you Craig and let’s hope we can achieve the impossible. Belief, as I said, is key to me and as I keep saying to you ‘this is our town, this is our club and hopefully this is our time’… if we don’t believe who will?