How could you sum up THAT Sunday? I’ll try my best. My family and I woke up that morning blasting out ‘heroes’ by David Bowie, ‘Que Sera Sera’ by Doris Day… And of course ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by our newest supporter ‘Wheatus’ (with a promotion push already in full swing, a gig at Meadow Park wouldn’t go amiss by the latter.) We drove down on the morning of the game along the M25 listening to the FA Cup draw live, waiting for that number 2 ball to be drawn. No local rivals left for the Wood to play so we knew a big game was on the horizon… Should we get past the Cherries that is. The car was silent for those 15 or so minutes before we all knew the fate that would await us… The Toffees at Goodison Park.
On the way down to the South Coast my son had made a point that there had been no giant killings that weekend yet. Kidderminster were close, Plymouth too but still no big story in the 4th Round. When we arrived in the car park there was an air of optimism in the pub, despite the weather! On the way to the stadium, the team lineup was announced and, in particular, I was pleased to see Mark Ricketts starting given the injury problems the captain has had. That sounds cliche given the outcome, but I think I could almost guarantee you that my son was the only member of the Wood Army with the number ‘4’ plastered across the back of his Boreham Wood shirt. Number 4 is also his number too when he plays (and I think he has a similar goal return to Mark, too.)
The atmosphere in the away end was bouncing. Chants of ‘Wembley’, ‘Wood Army’ and ‘Luke Garrard’s black and white army’ were ringing around the Vitality Stadium and the game kicked off. Two early chances and a should-have-been penalty went amiss before the Wood Army erupted. The clock hit 38 minutes and Mendy flew down the left-hand side before finding the Bournemouth man. Step up, that man Mark Ricketts, with the number 4 on his back. A composed, side-footed finish slammed off the post before finally nestling in the back of the net. Scenes everywhere. It’s funny listening back to Luke mention that he told Mendy to stay in their half so Bournemouth couldn’t take a quick one. How could anyone be so calm amongst the story that was unfolding?! Credit to the man because none of us cared for anything other than that goal in that moment.
As the game went on, you could feel the optimism building again in the away end that little Boreham Wood could be the story of the round… And the FA Cup! 1-0 on the scoreboard and the minutes running down with Evans, Stephens and Stevens standing firm (not to mention the rest of the team.) Then que Taye Ashby-Hammond. 9 clean sheets in his first 11 appearances for the Wood and you can see why. I have no clue how he saved the first shot, let alone the point-blank range second. That is no fluke either by the way, cat like reflexes.
5 minutes of added time that felt like 30 in all honesty. At that point you can’t even look at the scoreboard, just watching the ref for that final whistle. Then Graham Scott sounded the noise everyone affiliated with Boreham Wood wanted to hear. This was THE story. This was THE time. This was OUR story.
Marsh led the celebrations as Luke finally let Mendy enter his own half. 1,450 players, staff, friends, family and fans were and are ecstatic from the 95th minute at the Vitality stadium to the time of writing this email. In the gym, work, shops, you name it, everyone is still talking about the game. The lads should be proud as they are the talk of the FA Cup. They are the magic right now.
What does this mean to me? Firstly, my family and friends are still buzzing. This is the reason we love football. All the talk of the European Super League and anti-football suggestions need to quieten down. What Boreham Wood did against Bournemouth was potentially the first example post-European Super League situation that remembered football fans what the sport means. What made it better though, was the fact that it was my local club that made the football world remember and we are part of an extremely proud community.
Well, off to Goodison Park for us all next and a place in the quarter finals awaits… History is being written at the Wood and the pen is still on the paper…