Boreham Wood Football Club Chairman Danny Hunter, spoke exclusively to our new Media and Communications manager Jay Taylor, about the 2018/19 season that finished just seven weeks ago, about the ongoing summer signings and facility builds that are now in full flow and about the new 2019/20 season.
It also gave our new media man the chance to ask specifically about new signings, any player targets, the clubs short term ambition, plus his thoughts on a run at the play offs or an unthinkable relegation fight.
JT. Thanks for giving up your time Mr Chairman.
DH. My pleasure Jay
JT. Well Chairman after what can best be described as an up and down league campaign, we managed to avoid relegation and retain the Herts Senior Cup. It was many felt a mixed season and with many more big clubs now coming into the National league every season, the Wood faithful’s expectations are understandably a mixture of cautious optimism and worry about what we could or should expect from the club and the dressing room next season.
Can you give me and the supporters, what your thoughts are through say the Chairman’s crystal ball, about what we should be hoping for?
DH. Expectation and reality Jay are perhaps two very different things, but you can expect the normal things from a Danny Hunter run football club and a Luke Garrard run changing room. Both will be well run, both will be organised, both will be hard working and both will be focused and competitive.
You can expect the normal fans frustrations, the normal magic moments, but most importantly you can expect more than 50 points – but we are Boreham Wood so you must always expect the unexpected – sorry to be so cliché.
The reality is it’s still only June and with the pressure on timelines regarding the new North stand and the other facility builds. I’m already tired out haha, and in truth I can’t believe July is almost upon us.
As such we’ll soon be welcoming back a full management team, a full medical team and no doubt a lively first team, plus our top end academy lads and the normal trialists. I feel even in June, that any success next season is still very much dependent on how our recruitment goes over the next six weeks. But trust me I could of spent some serious amounts of money on some very average players who were offered to us, but who in truth would sit on our bench all season, when what we need is players who will start.
Perhaps our patience in May and June, will pay off and allow us to announce some real quality in July and August. As in truth I’ve re-crunched the numbers, I’ve re-looked at where I can save a bit of money intelligently and I’ve gone and increased our budget overall once again.
But the reality is I still cannot compete with the very top end of this division at present, and because I can’t, this is the time of the year that I don’t really enjoy on the football front if I’m being totally honest.
However it is a time of year that I try to use intelligently, I try to ensure that myself and all my staffs mindsets get realigned. That way both my companies and the football clubs plan, work ethic, team spirit and underdog natures get that reality check. While I feel it gives me and my staff the correct sort of expectation levels, for what will once again be another relentless season from this August to next April and if we’re successful hopefully well into next May.
JT. A very detailed answer Chairman, Thank you. It is always good for supporters to know what a Chairman’s thoughts are and get an understanding of what’s been happening in the off season.
Chairman on the signing front it has been a pretty quiet summer to date – can you give us any news on player signings, player targets, on the mood at the club and what your feelings are ahead of what appears to be a pretty busy pre-season and on the new North Stand opening?
DH. Yes of course – I did cover much of this in my answers to your previous questions.
However if I’m honest this pre-season I feel will be a walk in the park for me and Luke after last year’s player ordeals, as this has a very different feel to it. In truth last May, June and July was still very raw after losing out at Wembley. I was always thinking about what might have been and then beating myself up in regard to recruitment and about the players that got away. I suppose the reality is that I’m always worried in May June and July.
That said, the Wembley loss is all in the past and instead of us losing say Morgan Ferrier, Bruno Andrade, Jamie Turley, Scott Doe, Grant Smith and even young Kane Smith to injury as it was a year ago, we have already signed 12 players that we wanted to from last season’s squad and we have added some good players and staff to our ranks.
JT. That’s obviously good news Chairman, but the supporters will really want to know about any new signings, especially with pre-season training and the Arsenal and QPR games almost upon us.
DH. Yes, I understand that, but we do still need to be respectful, as some of the new lads are still on people’s payrolls until the end of June. So, I feel it’s better for me to ask our supporters and media staff like you to remain a little patient, before we make our official announcements on certain players.
JT. Ok Chairman let’s move on – do you as some supporters have openly said, feel that last season after the highs of the previous season, was hugely disappointing? Or are you satisfied with what turned out to be a Trophy winning season retaining the Herts Senior Cup?
DH. I sit firmly with the fans who were disappointed with the season. But I will quantify that by saying, we had some real highlights along the way in knocking Dagenham out of the FA Cup and then stopping St Albans City winning a trophy by beating them in the Herts Senior Cup final.
In truth though, I was disappointed with many aspects of our season, but we still got to the first round proper of the FA Cup and we are still without doubt, Hertfordshire’s top non-league club and still the only Hertfordshire club in the National League’s top division.
So my underlying feeling over my 20 years, is still one of immense pride in what we’re doing, in what we’re quietly achieving and I still have real pride in my young manager but he and his staff must do better this season.
I want to see a real pride back in our dressing room and I feel they must do better, I want to see a real pride back in my staff but I feel they must do better, I want to see a real pride back in our supporters but I feel we need far more supporters to attend and I want to see a real pride from our Town but we all know we need it to turn out.
I think on a personal level I’ve earned my stripes, I think I’ve proven to everyone that I know how to run a football club. As such I’m certainly not ever going to get carried away in June, but with the new North Stand being completed before our season starts. We are now I feel at the beginning of a new era.
A new era, where I hope our home support can improve, where local investment and where our player recruitment also improves and If it does, then the finishing line of the EFL will I feel start to get nearer.
We all know that you win nothing in football at this time of year, but if you’re a lazy son of a bitch in the months of May and June, you will start the season badly and you will fall away very quickly.
I don’t think with our work ethic at present, that, that will happen to us, because I have improved the clubs mindset again and our mindsets needed it. We must now improve our staff and squad strength and if we can create and maintain some momentum over the next eight weeks, then I feel we’ll be bang on course for a top half finish and a crack at the play offs.
That Jay is why it’s important to strengthen our ranks calmly and from a position of strength. It’s why I’m not prepared to pay mediocrity silly money or make desperate signings in May and June. It’s why after July and August is over and after the transfer window shuts, that I hope we would of done very good business and our decisions will make us look smart and as an underdog club, one to be wary of.
JT. That’s interesting, so without trying to push you too far Chairman, do you feel the new signings are going to excite the fans, and will they give you, me and our supporters good reason to expect a stronger season – in what looks after the relegation’s and promotions to be a very strong National league next season?
DH. Regarding expectations, well as I said it’s still only June. so let’s be unrealistic, let’s try to win the league, let’s try to win the FA Trophy and let’s try to get to the 3rd round proper of the FA Cup haha – because it costs us absolutely nothing to dream the impossible dream in June.
Everyone knows though that’s not the reality, everyone knows that winning the title is not going to happen without a million pound budget in this league. But I do know we love a challenge, and I do know both the old and the new players will make us very difficult to beat, while I hope we score a few more goals than we did last season.
I know if we do, our existing players and staff will start to believe in themselves and I know they would of bought into our philosophy and ethos re attitude, discipline and desire. So, if we can start well, if we can believe in ourselves and if our newbies can settle in quickly, then we could be in for an exciting season.
I genuinely believe in what I’m doing here and what I’m building, but I know I must not get carried away. But if I can find an extra few bob, if I can manage expectation and apart from getting relegated, then there will be no real pressure from me – as we’re still little Boreham Wood.
However if we can get recruitment right, then I fancy Luke and the dressing room to improve on last season, perform in the big games and be ready to compete again.
JT. Chairman you’ve often said on record, that we must manage people’s expectation, if not things might turn sour. But the way the club is now run, plus the fact that the club, Luke and the dressing room are settled, whoever we play especially early doors, has me believing that we will certainly be competitive.
Also after we’ve opened the new North Stand and after completing the summer stadium works for the upcoming home Arsenal and QPR games. You must be quietly excited with how the summer builds and facility improvements have the stadium looking.
DH. Yes, I am quietly content, and I often talk about managing people’s expectation levels simply due to our home support and what people who buy the £99 season ticket expect for £4.30 a game. I told everyone last season when we beat Sutton 4-0 away to go 7th that we were in a false position. Not because I wanted to dampen expectation but I knew we would miss the quality of Bruno Andrade, Grant Smith, Kane Smith, Morgan Ferrier and Jamie Turley.
But the aim for this season is to be in the top half of this league by January, thereafter be in a 10 team race for the play-offs. So quiet belief and great recruitment is key and as always January becomes a crucial signing month at this level.
As for this year’s summer builds, I’m very proud of how the place is looking. We have managed for the last decade, year on year to remain competitive while rebuilding the training pitch, changing facilities and improving the floodlights. We’ve built new dug outs, built and improved our toilets, created and furnished new classrooms, created a million pound new desso pitch, built a new west stand and, now the new North Stand and rebuilt the first team changing block – the whole place in my opinion is giving local people a new mindset in regards to their local community club.
So like the Wood Army, I will of course carry hope into the season – but emphasise again that it’s unrealistic to think we should be play-off contenders with the level of support that we receive on the terraces and within the Town. But I also believe that with decent recruitment and a bit of luck that we can get very close to the play-offs and win the FA Trophy.
We now have a more than experienced gaffer, we will have an improved and talented squad, we will have an improved and hard-working day to day staff. And I believe that all the hard work behind the scenes, will give us a real platform to progress and perhaps get to the next level in the years to come.
JT. So that leads me nicely into my next question Chairman. Let’s look to the future and your vision of how this club could perhaps look in a few years. We’ve now been to Wembley, you’ve now built the North Stand, we were perhaps 10 minutes from being in the football league and we’ve all seen those amazing visuals and heard about your positive meetings with the council.
Are we any closer to having a new East Stand or South Stand built in the next two or three years – are those still a realistic target??
DH. Regarding going to Wembley and the new North Stand, I gave my word we’d walk up Wembley Way together and that I’d build our supporters a covered home end. In truth it took far longer than I’d hoped to achieve, and it cost far more than I thought it would but I’ve kept my word.
I don’t though now feel either the South or East Stands are very realistic targets anymore, as the councils decision makers and asset management, don’t I feel believe in what we’re trying to achieve here for the community, and what I’m trying to do in taking this club forward.
I believe If the Town and our supporters really do want league football and if they really do share my ambition. Then we all need to create a different mindset amongst each other and they can help me create an improved support base.
As I’ve said many times, I’ve improved our club, improved our community coaching department, I’ve improved our academy, I’ve improved our football team, I’ve created more jobs for local people, and we’ve created third party spend within the Town and that in turn genuinely helps the local economy – so I do believe the Council should back what I’m trying to achieve.
Because progress to the football league is reliant on us achieving a ground capacity in excess of 5,000 and with the present council and asset management plans not including us, we simply cannot achieve that, which is a huge worry.
I have always said, only if I can keep the officers, asset management, our local counsellors and the council’s planning departments on board, could we ever contemplate building at the South end of the ground. But our future is incumbent on the council’s own vision of turning much of the old bowls club into a car park, but included in that vision, giving us a slither of land to increase our capacity to 5000, which at present doesn’t appear to be an option!
However things can change, but I feel I will need as part of our argument to the local council, Asset management and the football foundation. That our average support not only remains over 700 but continues to rise year on year. Then of course our local residents will have to agree with me, then and only then can a smart new South Stand be designed and built, as it will have everyone’s consent. If that was achieved perhaps a new East Stand could then follow in 2022/23.
JT. Finally, Chairman as i said there’ is a really positive feeling around the club at present, and people are quietly thinking that the impossible is possible, but what happens if it all goes wrong and we do get relegated – after all we are the bookies favourites?
DH. Well the bookies rarely get it wrong nowadays haha so we’re doomed. This new season though is my 21st as Chairman, and if it goes wrong we’ll need to dust ourselves down and thank everyone for their effort – but trust me that won’t happen.
However If we’ve fallen short but still remain in the top division, then with everyone’s help we’ll dust ourselves down again and get ready for the next season, knowing we’ve surpassed nobodies expectations.
If we don’t go up Jay so what, this is a fantastic league for a club with 500 home fans to be a part of and with our support levels and resources its quite ridiculous that we can even compete like we do. So to be competing with the likes of Notts County, Wrexham and Chesterfield’s of this world is a fantastic achievement for us and I genuinely love that were competing at National league level.
JT. Thank you for your time as always Chairman, and let’s see how the season unfolds in what is predominantly a full time league.
DH. My pleasure Jay – recruitment and belief will be key, as will good staff, good team spirit and hopefully with a bit of luck, the impossible really can become possible but don’t hold your breath haha.