A tribute by Peter Smith, Boreham Wood FC Director 

 Along with Danny and all at Boreham Wood FC, I was saddened to learn of the death of another of our legendary players – “Gentleman Jim”, Jimmy Howard. 

Boreham Wood supporters of a certain age will remember Jimmy during his long and illustrious playing career here at Meadow Park, although I wonder how many also remember he also had a very brief spell as Assistant Manager – more on that later.  

Jimmy played a total of 214 games for the club over a period of many years and his first game was 57 years ago on a Thursday night in Edmonton on 13 April 1967. 

In the 1968-69 season under the brilliant stewardship of Micky Hunter, Danny’s Dad and legendary Boreham Wood Manager, Jimmy played 14 games in the Athenian League Division Two championship winning season. 

Although it was actually several years after that debut that Jimmy became a first team regular it was undoubtedly Micky’s influence that set Jimmy on the way to his excellent career in non-league football. 

He made only a handful of appearances in the following seasons although playing many times for the reserves we ran back in the day. 

Indeed, Jimmy briefly left the club in the early 1970’s for a spell at nearby Wembley, but soon returned and then became an integral part of the hugely successful teams in the mid-1970’s making 53 appearances in the 1975-76 season, 51 the following year when we won the Isthmian League Division Two championship, and 46 in season 1977-78. 

When Jimmy’s playing career finished, he had a very successful spell as Watford Youth Manager in the 1980’s working alongside the legendary Tom Walley. This was in the Elton John and Graham Taylor era at Vicarage Road and I believe I am right in saying Jimmy was part of the Youth team set up when Watford won the FA Youth Cup in 1982 beating the hot favorites Manchester United 7-6 on aggregate (with the equalizing goal for Watford in the second leg which led to the aggregate victory, being scored by Jimmy Gilligan who 20 years later was briefly our Manager in the early days of Danny’s stewardship.) 

Jimmy did try his hand at being a Manager in 1989 when he took the reins at St Albans City for a season. It was at that time his son Matthew (Matt) started playing in non-league after a brief spell at Brentford and he played the whole season there for St Albans. 

When he left Clarence Park Jimmy was regularly seen back at Meadow Park and his son Matt then joined us to take over the right back spot previously occupied by his Dad! 

It was in 1993 that Jimmy had his brief spell in the dugout here at Meadow Park when he became Assistant Manager alongside then Chairman Phil Wallace, who took temporary charge of the team following the dismissal of Manager Micky Dingwall. 

Bob Makin was appointed Manager shortly after that brief spell however and Jimmy remained with the club helping on the Youth Development side. 

His direct connection with the club then ended but he was never far away and became a regular supporter at Meadow Park when his lifelong friend Danny brought the club in 1999 and became Chairman. Indeed, I will leave Danny to add his own words about the enduring friendship over many decades enjoyed by the Hunter and Howard families. 

Moving on from the mere facts of Jimmy’s time at Borham Wood I must mention his renowned wicked sense of humor with many examples not being appropriate to record here. 

However, I think I can make reference to a chapter in our Club President Bill O’Neill’s book “The Story of Boreham Wood Football Club” about an end of season trip to Ostend in May 1977 for 20 players and club officials. Fortunately, I was not on the trip but Jimmy apparently caused considerable confusion with a life-like revolver and very nearly ended up in a Belgian Police station. The true facts are probably lost in the mist of time from nearly 50 years ago but knowing Jimmy some of what I was told was certainly true! 

Jimmy’s sense of humor is perhaps also well demonstrated in this picture of him hijacking a chairlift at Lincoln City with Danny close at hand. 

I was privileged to know Jimmy very well and although it involves another sad occasion, I must mention how very helpful he was to me in1977 when manager Micky Lennon’s wife died suddenly – most of the other club officials were on a trip abroad and Jimmy helped me and John Sneddon steady the ship until they returned. Indeed, in the first game after that traumatic time Jimmy scored a last second equalizer to share the points for us at Hampton.

And so, Jimmy has sadly now joined the other Boreham Wood FC legends from back in the day in the dressing room in the sky. I can only imagine some of the conversations taking place with Micky Hunter, Micky Lennon, John Sneddon, Micky Jackson, Steve Waller, Ray Kierstenson and many others as they look down at our stadium which is so different now to when they were playing and managing us. They are, though, such an integral part of the history of our club and will never be forgotten.

Although Danny will be adding his own tribute in Saturday’s programme for our upcoming league fixture against Gateshead. I must finish by saying on behalf of Danny and all at the club that we send our sincerest condolences to Jimmy’s wife Eileen and their children, Sarah, Karen and Matt.




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