Firstly, can I thank my management team, our players, my staff and of course our supporters; the ‘Wood Army’ faithful, from the bottom of my heart.
Can I also thank the town, my sponsors, our counsellors and our incredible academy structure for all coming together. What a game football really is, and it is truly amazing when a local club can unite a town and find a way to take its whole community up Wembley Way and so very close to a place in the Football League, and of course dream world.
Hindsight will of course ask questions of us – Did we freeze on the day? Did we perform to the levels we know we can? Did we ultimately not have the squad strength to see the play-offs through?
In truth, none of that matters now. We did incredible things along the way, but ultimately came up short on the final Saturday of the season at Wembley Stadium. But, as long as lessons were learnt – as they must be, and trust me, they were – then the experience was, for me anyway, worth every sleepless night, every penny spent and every sacrifice I’ve ever made over the last 19 years here as Chairman.
But as a club, with my staff, we have built a special club and our progress is built on small steps going forward and we will continue in that vein for as long as I am Chairman.
Trust me, I feel this season has taught me and my talented young manager Luke Garrard so much it’s untrue, about life, about each other and about what we’re trying to achieve together. This has perhaps been both our proudest moment in football and in truth, possibly the most heart-breaking moment as well.
But we know it’s not about what happened yesterday anymore – it’s now about today, tomorrow and the future, and I believe our future looks bright.
I’m told today that we’ve gone through the 500 mark for 2018/19 season ticket sales for the very first time in our 70-year history and that’s up over 80% already on last year’s sales – bearing in mind we’re still only in mid-May – that’s not too bad…
So I’d really like to thank each and every one of our supporters both old and new for that. I’m also told last week, that we went through the one million hits mark on our website – that’s inside the first 10 months and at one stage, our whole website crashed, through the sheer volume of people who were trying to view it.
So as we say goodbye to last season, I must now try to manage everyone’s expectations for next season. And I ask that people accept that we are still the smallest club in the National League, that we’re still an underdog club with the smallest support base – albeit with a fan base that’s quietly growing all the time – and that we are realistic in our expectations.
Myself and Luke must firstly ensure we put a squad together that can keep us in this very difficult division next season. Secondly, that we continue our year-on-year progress both on-and-off the field and thirdly, and possibly most difficult of all, find a way to challenge for a play-off spot in a division that simply gets harder each season.
Trust me; myself, Luke Garrard and all the staff, will be working overtime over the summer months to give you all another exciting season and I promise – if the council sign off on our lease extension haha – to finally build you all a brand new covered stand in the home end to keep you amazing fans dry for the first time in over 70-years.
In truth, I’m just so sorry that we didn’t quite give you the fairy tale I dreamt that we would do and trust me, I’ve shed more than just a few tears over that in the last few days. But, it’s also now my job to man up, lead by example, and keep building and investing in our town, our community and our structure, while improving the club and our community department.
It’s equally important to support local good causes, my wonderful young manager Luke Garrard, his talented dressing room and all my staff. Because, for them to be able compete at this incredibly difficult National League level, means they will need resources.
So I ask you to please keep buying the discounted season tickets, please keep your humour, perspective and faith. And please keep supporting a club with a newly found community togetherness. Saturday surely showed us all what unity can do – as a local man in my 56th year, it simply felt wonderful to walk up Wembley Way and to be a part of it, and I’d like to think we could all one day experience it again.
So enjoy the summer, enjoy a break away from my waffle, and we’ll hopefully see you all in pre-season when we welcome our very good friends from Arsenal, Brentford and AFC Wimbledon to Meadow Park.
Thanks again for your support and of course patience over the years.