OH, I DO LIKE TO BE BESIDE THE SEASIDE
Boreham Wood FC had already sent a packed Meadow Park into raptures with an improbable victory over League One side AFC Wimbledon in the Third Round of the FA Cup in January. As well as being one of my best days in football, it was the best I’ve ever seen a Boreham Wood side play in my fourteen years watching the club. They were unbelievable from start to finish.
It was naturally assumed that Boreham Wood would go out in the next round away to Championship highflyers AFC Bournemouth. Even had that been the case, we still had wonderful memories from the FA Cup this season including the away win at Barnet, thrashing St Albans at a packed Meadow Park and of course the win against AFC Wimbledon. However, Luke Garrard’s men had other ideas and pulled off a shock by beating Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday 6th February; a day that will stay with me and my kids, Sara and Harry forever.
We’ve all had some fantastic memories watching this club since rocking up, almost by accident. fourteen years ago. However, the win against Bournemouth topped the lot. I admit, I cried like a baby when the full-time whistle went. I can’t speak for the kids as they were elsewhere in the stand, wanting to sit with their friends, as far away from me as possible haha. The next time I saw young Harry was after the final whistle when I said word for word, “If your mother doesn’t let you take the day off school to go to Everton away, I will need to find a new wife.” A few people who heard were laughing at my comment assuming I was joking!
It wasn’t just Mark Ricketts goal or the jubilant scenes at the end that made the day so special. The day was fantastic from the moment I woke up at 9am until I finally went to bed, a bit worse for wear at 3am on Monday morning. The banter among supporters, the atmosphere on the coach, in the Christopher Creek pub and in the ground was unbelievable. On the flipside, the attempt at the Wheatus song “Teenage Dirtbag” on the way home by Coach 1 was unbelievably bad! Having a few late-night drinks at the club when we returned from the South Coast, was great. Despite having to be at work at 8:30am the next morning, I didn’t want the day to end and wanted to stay in the bar as long as possible. The left-over pizza from the players’ coach was a contributing factor, too!! It was only the pestering from my daughter Sara that made us leave at 2am.
Sharing this day with such a great group of people was an unreal experience. A lot of them, I consider friends, people I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t come to Boreham Wood FC. There were 1,380 supporters of all ages and backgrounds who made the trip to the South Coast at a far from ideal time on a Sunday evening. It was lovely to see all the kids there, too. The supporters congregated together as one, as friends, in a mood of joint celebration. I do hope we can keep some of these extra supporters. The fact that Tyrone Marsh’s first instinct was to jump into the crowd at the final whistle, closely followed by other players, is a clear indication that we’re not a bad bunch of people and may have contributed in some way to such a famous win.
It was not just about what our famous victory meant to me, or my kids, or even Boreham Wood players, club officials or supporters. It captured the hearts of the nation. We were headline news across the nation and people were talking about us. We were centre of attention on radio phone in’s and were even trending on Twitter (whatever that means.) It’s what a lot of us supporters had dreamed of. By the time I got back on the coach and looked at the WhatsApp on my phone, the message count went into hundreds, and they went 48 lines down. I also had loads of Facebook messages and messages from close family and friends, as well as people I’m not longer in touch with. Messages came from people I know all over the word, in Australia, Israel, USA and Abu Dhabi.
I turned up for work at 8:15am the next morning after three hours sleep and got a round of applause from everyone in the office. Because I’d been going on about it, they all watched the game (or said they did to shut me up.) It was as if I had something to do with the win. I got a message from a friend of mine who I have been trying to persuade to come to Boreham Wood for years. He has started coming this season and described the Bournemouth game as the best sporting event he’s ever been to!!
We can now look forward to playing away at Everton, one of the biggest football clubs in the Premier League, in the Fifth Round of the. What drama will that bring?
“The FA Cup storybook is one you just cannot put down” – Clive Tyldesley