After Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 home defeat against Sutton United, played out in front of a paltry crowd of just 407 that included 130 away fans, our club shop and away travel club manager Grant Morris, caught up with the Boreham Wood Football Club Chairman Danny Hunter for his observations on both the game and on the sparse crowd.
GM… Thank you Chairman for sparing me a few minutes after today’s defeat.
DH… No problem Grant.
GM… After starting the season reasonably well, after being unbeaten at home until today and after the great away performance and win at Dagenham on Tuesday, what did you make of today’s game and the 1-0 defeat?
DH… I’ve not got much to say really on the game, two hard working teams who in the main cancelled each other out. Sutton were I feel slightly better than us and if I had a criticism, I’d say we never played at a tempo that you’d possibly expect from a home side.
But football and team selection Grant, are questions really for Luke and his management team. As In truth we seem to have much bigger problems to deal with after just 407 people turned up for today’s game and 130 of those were Sutton United fans.
GM… You sound very disappointed Dan in regards to the lack of support today. What do you put that down to, as the crowd was extremely poor. Could it just be the school holidays, people being away or other local league clubs maybe taking away the floating supporter?
DH… Oh do me a favour Grant, we’ve been finding excuses at whatever league we’ve been playing in and there aren’t any excuses left. If you look at the averages we are already over 500 supporters less than the next worst supported club in the National League.
No the truth is, other than the bigger games against the big clubs who carry large away support, we are after 5 years at National League level, clearly still no bigger than a Ryman league or Southern League Club.
Today’s abysmal crowd just makes me feel sad, as so much hard work goes into making this club over achieve every year and we just want a bit more support for those efforts. I suppose if you want an excuse, the lower than normal crowd could be put down to three hundred Adult and OAP £99 season ticket holders, who took up our offer but never bothered to turn up and support us.
But it does feel that the Town will turn out for the bigger cup games and a derby against Barnet, but then seem to want to support the club from their front rooms, from the local pubs and bars who on a Saturday show illegal Premier League games that kick off at 3pm and get themselves updated on social media.
You can put it down to whatever you like Grant, but there’s nothing more that I can do here. I’ve tried everything and if we’re honest with each other, whatever I do or try to do to increase home support nothing seems to works.
GM… I have to say Chairman, I do actually agree with you on this and I think others share your frustration. I felt after the 3-0 win at Dagenham on Tuesday and because we took over 80 supporters to Victoria Road that we were on the up and could of gone up to 8th tonight – so I also expected a far better crowd today.
DH… Look Grant, I’m probably just feeling a bit sorry for myself, but 407 as a gate attendance at our level is laughable. So I can’t keep making the same excuses to myself about the lack of interest anymore, I can’t keep spending on ground improvements and increased first team and staffing levels if nobody wants to come and watch us.
Most of that was done on crowds that I could fit into my back garden but you would expect them by now to of really improved.
I still consistently subsidise away travel, I still put on the free breakfasts, I’ve done the Q and A’s and I feel that I’ve tried pretty much every initiative known to man and even created the £99 season ticket for people. That offer in truth is daylight robbery and works out at a little bit more than £3 a game and still people don’t come in their numbers to support us on a consistent basis.
I have again tried to push myself, push my staff and push the present budget to the max and we’ve gone and got new players because we knew we were poor in certain areas both on and off the park last season.
I’ve personally spent another half a million since February and along with the £330k from the Football Foundation, £150k from the Town Council and £100k from Arsenal we’ve spent close to 1.2 million pounds over the summer on a host of facility upgrades and a brand new North stand.
As I said, I’ve increased the first team budget and all I seem to hear in every boardroom I enter, is that Arsenal pay for this and Arsenal pay for that, which is a long, long way from the truth. They are a long standing partner, who also expect an awful from us lot for their money which I’m OK with. But we’re certainly not where we are are because of Arsenal or any single partner, we are where we are because we’re a well run, well managed club, built from the bottom up and have great staff.
You more than anyone know, all I’ve heard of from our fans in recent years, was that if I built them a covered home stand that would improve things and the Wood Army would have the place rocking. Well if 407 fans is improving things and if that’s rocking, then they’ve all led incredibly sheltered lives.
The same fans also told me for years, that if I could find a way to give them more affordable season tickets that would also improve things, like it has at many other clubs. Well I’ve done all of those things and then some of these people don’t even bother to turn up – so after this season that £99 season ticket is dead in the water.
So I need to get real and I must also recognise what my family needs, I need to look at what I’m actually getting back in terms of terrace support from everyone, as I cannot be all things to this club any longer.
As I said I’ve improved the club structures across the board, I’ve just put in a new club shop, I’ve invested again in the new ground toilets and I’ll invest further in both our schools and community programme but will it improve our support of course not. For over twenty years and even with a lack of support, I’ve tried to improve things for local people, with the work we do within our community. But our crowds just never seem to improve in the way that I see at other local clubs like Sutton, Bromley and Maidenhead and it’s demoralising.
For me today was a real low point and I admit I do feel really low. But wouldn’t you, If you took out the 100 odd adult season ticket holders who actually bothered to attend yesterday, if you took out the players and boardroom guests and took out the media and away fans, we had just 46 home Adult and OAP fans turn up and pay on the day for a local National League fixture.
so I’ve now got to re-assess what more I can actually do here, as the Town clearly doesn’t want to consciously support its club, so it can challenge at National League level or support us at getting to the football league and I don’t want to just make up the numbers, as I wasn’t brought up to sit on the back of the bus…
GM… This is in all my time here the angriest I’ve ever seen you but I can’t really argue with anything you’re saying, as it seems no matter what you do or have done nothing seems to make a difference.
DH… Grant I’m not in the least bit angry, so please don’t misinterpret me being upset or demoralised as anger, as they’re very, very different emotions.
But I am enormously upset, because after 21 seasons in the chair and after four or five promotions, after all the school and community initiatives, and even after budgeting for the losses of the ridiculously priced early bird season tickets, nothing has changed.
The players are still running out to an empty stadium, though we now have 100 or 125 supporters residing in the new home stand. Our support levels are frustrating the life out of me, as I get people on at me about us challenging the Wrexham’s, Notts County and Chesterfields of this world, who all get four or five thousand fans and peoples expectation of what there £99 brings is completely bonkers.
I feel after today, that It might simply be the right time to re-evaluate my own ambitions and consider downsizing my year on year investment here and get rid of a few of the white elephants in the room. It feels that it might be the right time to accept that the current attendances and current support is the best I can hope for?
If we can all accept that, then we can I feel enjoy what’s been achieved here as an underdog club on the crowds that we previously got and now get.
It’s perhaps now time for the loyal Wood Army to accept like me, that we’re only ever going to get around three to four hundred home supporters for a normal league game and the rest of the crowd for those type of games will be made up of away fans.
GM… Finally Dan, I’m sure you’ll bounce back like always, as it’s not nice seeing you so deflated but have you got a message for our old and new fans, as a lot of them are equally unhappy with our support and the Wood Army all share your frustration.
DH… No I don’t have any message, there’s nothing left for me to say anymore that they haven’t already heard.