Where Jon Wordsworth was once saving goals, he’s now saving lives. An old-fashioned style centre-half, who was strong in the tackle, Wordsworth now has to be strong in the mind, having recently been named Watch Commander at Borehamwood Fire Station.
A servant to the fire service for 15-years, the Northerner has worked his way through the ranks to take command of this prestigious position, all while forging a successful playing career.
Recalling his time at Meadow Park, Wordsworth began: “I first joined Boreham Wood in 2008. I moved down to live with an ex-girlfriend – ‘ex’ being the operative word – and I didn’t have a club at the time.
“I remember scoring against Watford, which featured on Sky Sports News and playing against Arsenal on Setanta Sports, which doesn’t exist anymore. In my first actual league game I got sent off for being a bit too aggressive in the tackle,” he laughed. “It was a different style of play up north, much more physical, whereas down south you passed the ball a bit more which I wasn’t used to.
“I was here for two seasons and I was actually voted Player of The Year in my first season. At the beginning we were flying and then we tailed off towards the end and just managed to avoid relegation. We had quite a limited squad, so I think we did well.
“Then the second season was a little bit more difficult for me because I ended up with a few injuries to my ankles and my knees, which took me out of the game for a couple of months.
“I went off and did a bit of backpacking before Ian Allinson convinced me to come out of retirement. I made mainly cameo appearances off the bench, but we did get promoted that season.”
His influence on the pitch may have been appreciated by the Wood Army, but it is his work off it, that most greatly benefitted the local community.
This incredible work was shown in 2004, when Boreham Wood Football Club needed them. Intruders caused more than £50,000 worth of damage to the club in the December of that year, when they deliberately set fire to our offices.
15-foot-high flames coming out of Meadow Park Road were quickly spotted and three fire engines from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue rushed to the scene to put out the blaze.
“I’ve been in the fire service for 15 years,” Wordsworth continued. “I initially started in Yorkshire and was based in Huddersfield and later Doncaster. When I moved here, I transferred to Potters Bar, whilst playing for Boreham Wood.
“Being back working in this area brings back a lot of memories. A lot has changed since I played here – the physio room was in and around the car park, and I should know as I was in there quite a lot! It’s great to see it all again, it’s actually quite emotional.
“I am still an operational firefighter, so I work two days and two night shifts a week and respond to emergency calls. As a Watch Commander, I am in charge of the watch, so during incidents it is down to me to decide what we are doing and plan the incident accordingly.
“On top of that, we have a lot of community work to do. For example, it is important for us to get into people’s houses and spread the awareness of fire safety. We fit free smoke alarms and offer advice. This is particularly important for our more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly who are statistically more at risk of having a fire. It is very important to emphasise that smoke alarms save lives due to the early warning that they give to the occupants of a house”
“We also go and visit community groups to do talks in front of people and children. There is a lot more to it than people think. I often get two views of firefighters; one is that we just sit around, drink tea, and play snooker, and the other is that we are superheroes. Neither of these are true though!”
It is the community related work that brings Wordsworth back to Meadow Park, as he continues to try and spread the word throughout the local area.
The local fire station’s advice and guidance is incredibly important and can quite literally save lives.
“It is free lifesaving advice,” he emphasised. “People don’t realise that certain things that they have been doing for years are potentially unsafe. For example, we advise against putting the washing machine on at night or when you go out. The number of fires we get from appliances like washing machines and dishwashers is staggering really.
“Smoke alarms are huge, and we offer to come and fit them free of charge. If you give us a call on our station number 020 8258 1100, we will arrange a time that’s best for you, whether that be in the day or at night, and we can come around fit them.”
Wordsworth may have been quick to dismiss the superhero tag people in his profession are often given, but the work they do really is incredible.
However, they need your help to prevent the unthinkable happening.
“We want to spread the word everywhere we can. It’s not just fire safety, we are a fire and rescue service. There are so many different scenarios that we deal with that you probably couldn’t even imagine us doing. Like animal rescues, and it is just a case of raising awareness of what we do, so that if you need our help, you can give us a call.
“We rescue a lot of children from places you wouldn’t believe they could get to. I’ve rescued a child who was sat on top of a lamppost once. He climbed up, but then couldn’t get down and he was really scared. Or recently, we had someone walking their dog across a farmer’s field and they didn’t realise that it was a slurry pit and started sinking quickly and was eventually up to his neck in it.
“Luckily, he managed to raise attention to himself and we were called in to help. Anything you can think of, we have probably been there and done it.
“It can be extremely emotionally charged. It’s one of those jobs that you don’t for the money, we do it to help people and that’s what we’re here for.”
Now that he is back working in Borehamwood, the former centre-half hopes to return to Meadow Park on a more regular basis and spread the word to the club’s growing support base.
“I would like to come down to the club and see the Chairman Danny Hunter and hopefully a few familiar faces in the crowd.
“It would be good to come down on matchdays and hand out leaflets on fire safety advice and get the message out into the community. So please look out for us.”