Tomorrow, Wood travel down to Somerset to take on Yeovil Town for the first time in 22 years. The last time the two sides met was back in August 1997 in the Isthmian Charity Shield at Yeovil’s then newly constructed state-of-the-art Huish Park, where the Glovers came out on top winning the game 1-0 from a Warren Patmore goal.
The game came about after the Glovers were crowned Isthmian Premier Division Champions during the 1996/97 season, whereas the Wood were winners of the Isthmian League Cup, with all proceeds from the game being donated to charity.
The game was the fifth and final time the two sides were to compete against each other following a two-year stint as counterparts in the Isthmian Premier League following Wood’s promotion from the Isthmian Division One in 1994/95, whereas Yeovil were relegated from the Vauxhall Conference that same season. Meaning this currently is only the third ever season the Wood and the Glovers have been able to call themselves league equals.
Across that period, despite finishing a single place and three points above Yeovil during the 1995/96 season (the only time in our history we have finished above Yeovil Town in the football pyramid), it is fair to say that the Glovers had the upper hand in terms of results. Of our club’s five meetings to date, our record stands at one win, one draw and three defeats, scoring just a single goal whilst conceding six in the process.
However, what is most interesting when looking back into the archives is that of the Yeovil Town side that had the advantage over the Wood during that period, four of their team would go onto manage at Meadow Park in years to come, namely Graham Roberts, Mickey Engwell, Lee Harvey and Steve Browne, all bringing success to Meadow Park in one way or another.
Former Spurs, Rangers, Chelsea and West Brom defender Graham Roberts took the reins at Yeovil Town in 1995 as Player/Manager and would oversee the Glovers quick return to the Conference following relegation in 1994/95. Graham didn’t take his playing duties lightly during that spell and in fact played and started in all four of our league match ups during the 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons.
Our paths wouldn’t cross again for a few years, but in 2000, our then youthful Chairman Danny Hunter at 39 years old appointed Graham as the First Team Manager at Meadow Park following relegation to the Ryman Division One in 1999/2000. Roberts’ spell as Manager of the Wood would last a single season, but it was a memorable one, as he guided the Wood to the Ryman Division One title at the first attempt compiling an extremely talented squad whilst doing so, including (you guessed it) two of his former teammates and players, Mickey Engwell and Lee Harvey.
Local Borehamwood boy Lee Harvey would have a brief spell as joint Manager alongside counterpart Mickey Engwell following the departure of Tommy Sampson, but his main contributions to the Wood were as a player, helping guide the Wood to two FA Cup First Round Proper ties against Torquay United and Blackpool in 2002/03 and 2003/04 respectively, as well as captaining the Wood to the Herts Senior Cup title in 2001/02.
As mentioned, Lee Harvey and Mickey Engwell’s joint Managerial stint would only be brief before Mickey would later take sole charge of managerial duties from the beginning of the 2002/03 season. The season would end in heartache as Wood finished 3rd from bottom in the Ryman Premier Division and were relegated into the Ryman Division One North, however Engwell would guide the team to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup away to Torquay United. Despite the heavy 5-0 defeat, it was a weekend on the south coast that lives long in the memory of the Chairman, then management team, players and supporters alike.
At the end of the 2002/03, Engwell would depart the Wood as Manager, but would later rejoin the Club as First Team Coach on two separate occasions, firstly ahead of the 2005/06 season and secondly ahead of the 2017/18 season.
The 2005/06 season saw the Wood win the Southern League Division One Eastern title, as well as reach the semi-final of the FA Trophy as a step four Non-League outfit, still to this day the lowest ranked side to ever progress to that stage of the competition, losing to Conference side Woking over two legs.
Later rejoining ahead of the 2017/18, it is one that goes down in records as our most successful in the Club’s history. As a part of Luke Garrard’s backroom staff, Wood would beat a Football League side for the first time in their history when defeating League Two Blackpool 2-1 in the FA Cup First Round Proper, whilst also finishing a Club record 4th position in Non-League’s highest division, before reaching the play off final at Wembley against Tranmere Rovers. It is safe to say Mickey Engwell goes down as a true Wood legend, both as a player and a part of the Management team in various roles, and can be called a true friend of the Chairman and the Club.
As Engwell left the Manager’s post at the end of the 2002/03 season, in came another former Yeovil Town player as Manager, Steve Browne. Steve’s spell at the Club was a short one, but during that time he too guided the Wood to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, drawing Blackpool away but again being beaten comfortably. Sadly, Steve passed away in 2017, losing his battle with cancer, and as always, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
As with most squads up and down the country, there still remains a connection amongst the Glovers and the Wood within our present playing staff. Glovers centre back Luke Wilkinson enjoyed two loan spells at Meadow Park between 2010 and 2012, making over 50 appearances for the Wood whilst on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge and becoming a firm fans favourite. Whereas, Wood midfielder Keiran Murtagh returns to Huish Park where he spent two seasons between 2008 and 2010, making 53 appearances and scoring three goals, before departing for Wycombe Wanderers.
Wood return to Huish Park tomorrow for the first time since 19th August 1997, should any Wood fans wish to make the journey to Somerset to cheer on the team, places are still available on Wood’s away day travel coach. If interested, please contact Grant Morris on 07703 658 554. The coach will be departing at 9.00am and a complimentary breakfast has been put on by Chairman Danny Hunter in the Gallery Suite.