THE HISTORY OF BOREHAM WOOD FOOTBALL CLUB
PART 1: HOW IT ALL BEGAN
By Bill O’Neill
Boreham Wood has had a football club for many years although I have no way of proving this. I was once told that there was a team formed in the 1880’s called “Tunnel United” which was started by the workers building the railway tunnel from Elstree to Mill Hill under Scratchwood.
There is evidence that there was a Boreham Rovers team playing in 1919. I would suggest being formed after the First World War, It has also been suggested that the local Scout and Rover troop had an input hence “Rovers”.
Boreham Rovers FC was dis-banded in 1939 on the outbreak of the Second World War. A junior club was formed during the war, the Boreham Wood Swifts. This was the first time the word “Wood” was used. They were an Under 18 side and played in the Mid Herts League. They took over the Boreham Rovers pitch on Meadow Road playing field as it was then known using the old council shelter with one stand pipe for washing. They played in Black and white striped shirts and black shorts. Among the trophies they won was the Mid Herts Benevolent Cup in the 1944/45 season, this was the last game I saw before going into the Royal Air Force and the Mid Herts Benevolent Shield in 1945/46 season their last.
The pitch they played on was in the position the all weather pitch is now. The present site then being grazing land with the entrance gate at the end of the Fairway Avenue where the maisonettes end.
E.J Freestone (the baker operating from the Dutch oven in Shenley Road) grazed his horses in the summer. The field was owned by Hedges farm. For the 1946/47 Season the Boreham Rovers re-formed. Most of the Swift players going into the services. Some of the Local lads who had served in the services during the war had formed a club called the Royal Retournez and played on a pitch at right angles to the Rovers, beside the old tennis courts that were there then.
Boreham Rovers played in white shirts and black shorts (or knickers as they were known then) The Royal Retournez in blue and white quartered shirts and white shorts.
At the 1947 AGM of the Boreham Rovers FC it was decided to drop the word “Rovers” and use the word “Wood” before somebody else did. It was a strange situation with members of the same family playing for different clubs and close friends on opposite sides, lots of loyalties were divided.
There were two separate AGMs held in the Church Hall in Shenley Road (which has just been demolished and is the new Museum and Library) when decisions were made to form the present Boreham Wood Football Club. The date was Thursday 24th June 1948. At this meeting I became a founder member of Boreham Wood Football Club.
I had arrived home from Germany mid April for de-mob after having served three years in the RAF. After a lot of mind searching while still in Germany – regarding whether to sign on for a five year period. What if I had? I would have possibly never been involved in the club. Some might say and so what! The answer to that we shall never know. All I do know is that I took de-mob and do not regret one minute of the 65 years involvement at the club. Another plus was meeting my wife in 1948, something that would not of happened (she only ever saw me play football once) make your own minds up about that!
We played on Meadow Road for one season before moving to Eldon Avenue behind the pre-fabs that were there then. The ground being the property of British National Film Studios adjacent to grazing land owned by Lears Farm which we knew as the backfields. It was also used as film set land for films being made at the Rock Studios and later the Douglas Fairbanks Studio, then ATV and later as still today the BBC.
The land was owned by Lady Yule who lived in Brickett Wood. The rent was agreed at two shillings per week (10p) with permission for a “temporary hut” for dressing rooms. The agreement was that we were on one years notice (but we kept that quiet) we were there for the next fifteen years and only the first years rental cheque for five pounds four shillings was presented by the studio.
In 1955 the land was sold to Associated Broadcasting Ltd who wrote to the club reminding the club that we were on one years notice and upped the rent fee to five pounds five shillings per annum. We contacted them and agreed to the conditions (we had no other option). In June 1955 we started negotiations with the Elstree Rural District Council re the possibilities of moving to Meadow Road playing fields on the area that had been grazing land and had been turned into a tip around 1950.
Negotiations kept me busy on drawing up plans etc. which resulted us starting work on our new ground on Good Friday March 1962. ATV had since taken over the ground at Eldon Avenue and wrote to us asking if we could vacate the site but keep our clubhouse etc. there by 1st April 1962. It was suggested that there could be financial assistance with the cost of our new ground. The last game we played at Eldon Avenue was Saturday 31st March 1962. We negotiated to play our games at Kenilworth Drive.
So our resources were split 3 ways. Our H.Q at Elson Avenue, Playing at Kenilworth Drive and building at Broughinge Road. What did we get for vacating the Eldon Avenue ground as requested and suggested? Nothing!
Next Week: The Building of the new ground.
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.