THE HISTORY OF BOREHAM WOOD FOOTBALL CLUB
PART 2: The Build Of The Main Structure
By Bill O’Neill
The first sections of the main structure (dance hall end) went into position at 8.30pm on Saturday, 7th July 1962, at last after four months of hard work there was something beginning to take shape.
We had now reached the third week in August 1962 and another football season had started (or so they told us). The heavy gang were convinced that the BBC started the “Match of the Day” programme to keep them in touch with the game.
The next fourteen weeks were spent labouring for the bricklayers, knocking up “muck”, carrying and stacking bricks, erecting scaffolding and keeping the site tidy.
The starting time for Saturdays and Sundays was 7.30am so as to get “muck” knocked up for the brickies, after a few weeks of this we were all calling out “muck-up” in our sleep. During this period the drain runs into the building were taken out and the pipes and fittings connected up to the man holes. With these two major jobs being carried out at the same time it made life very difficult and sometimes dangerous, the drain trenches were open for 30 weeks! Other jobs were also being attended to, such as making door and window frames, fixing down pipes from the guttering, putting the floor in the tower for the water tanks and a dozen other jobs.
We were now approaching Christmas 1962 and the weather was getting very cold, at weekends we were starting and finishing work in the dark and taking two hours to thaw out when we arrived home. Home? Where was that? The brickwork for the bar store were roofed in by Christmas weekend, Christmas Day and Boxing Day were declared Holidays by the odd vote. It was to be 10 weeks before any outdoor work was possible, the winter of 1963 being one of the worst on record. We were putting the corrugated asbestos roof on the bathrooms on a Saturday morning and it was freezing. I asked George Thompson to go across to the Club Bar at Eldon Avenue and ask Harold Payne to send over half a bottle of Rum to warm the working party on the roof. George returned with a full bottle saying there were no half bottles so could we send half back!!! Half an hour later I had the happiest working party of the project with George Thompson wondering how to explain to Harold, who was on Bar duty, that we had drunk the bottom half first.
The Start of 1963 found us knee deep in Snow and the first week of the New Year was spent clearing snow to gain access to the building. For the next 10 weeks we moved inside and made a start on the interior, the lighting voids over the bar were built and erected, the darts board lighting was designed and fitted, the electrical switch gear installed in the boiler house (the earthing alone took two full weekends to complete), the kitchen was shelved out, the telephone box was built and the switch panel over the bar was fitted and wired up. All of the electrical switches and lamp fittings were completed and dozens of other smaller jobs were done, all of this work was carried out with the aid of lead lights and floodlights. The decorating started early March, all woodwork being primed, filled, rubbed down, undercoated and finished. The ceilings were sized and the two coats of emulsion applied the main hall and members bar ceilings were finished during the first week in April.
Messrs Charringtons finished the bar off, the toilets, were tested, the lighting checked and we were ready for the opening. The Un-official opening took place on Wednesday evening 8th August 1963, it seemed very strange after all this time of just seeing the working party there to have all these people “in our front room”, it took me ages to get used to it.
We were very proud of our new club and ground, the work had been very hard and demanding, also at times frustrating but at all times very enjoyable, I think that there was even a little bit of disappointment that it was finished and the working party would eventually break up. For the record, there were three groups who worked on the project. The first group who worked non-stop, the second who helped as they could, plus those who did the odd job or two.
The regular group were: Pat Howell, his son, Mike Howell, George Read Snr, Mac Wyrill, Stan Ogden, Tom O’Neil jr, Percy Payne and your truly (plus my then 6 year old son). The second group were Ted Rickett, George Thompson, Jim Leggatt, George Fitzhugh, Johnny Gant, Les Kelly, Tom McComb, Jim Harrison.
Others who worked on the job at various times were; Peter Hancock Snr, Ted Higgins, Alf Bristow, Henry Stewart, Bill Condon, Bill Brady, Freddy Fane. Among those who helped with the interior decorating were; Bert Flint and Harry Stone. A special mention here must also go to Joan Howell who kept us supplied with Tea throughout.
The building of the new club was a once in a lifetime experience and I consider that I was privileged to have been in charge of the project. I have in recent years been involved in the planning and building of other football clubs as a business and they were built by professionals, but at the end of the day the end results were the same.
I also feel that by being so involved with the building of your own club you have that much more feeling for it and I am sure that this was one of the main reasons that the new club got off to a good start and has maintained this atmosphere throughout the years.
I also feel sure that my pride in the achievement Is shared by all those who worked on the project in other directions for the club at that time, because as I said previously, people like Harold Payne, Alf Bristow, Les Fitch, John Gilmore, Vinny Cook, Micky Hunter and Tom Cook, not forgetting the ladies, kept the old club going. The end of the 1962/63 season came without us realising it, I can’t write much about this season as I do not remember much about it as I only saw 2 games all season.
Next Week: Taking the Chair and Progress through the leagues.
The History of Boreham Wood Football Club, will be a weekly article that will run on this website and is being written by Club President and Founder Bill O’Neill. You can keep upto date with all the articles by visiting the “65 Years of Boreham Wood Football Club” under the First Team tab.