Wood centre back Dean Wells, who arrived this season, and made 18 appearances for Luke Garrard’s side, as part of what was proving to be the manager’s ever-reliable back three, has had to retire.
Wells had quickly become a fan favourite with the Wood Army, and was also involved in the PASE Academy’s elite coaching setup.
However, he has had his career cut short, after a coming together in the Dartford FA Trophy replay with an opponent, that ended with an anterior cruciate ligament tear. An injury that has resulted in the centre half now requiring surgery.
The Wood Chairman Danny Hunter stepped in and offered to pay for the operation, and look after the player, during what would be a year-long rehabilitation programme. However, after a consultation with both chief therapist Megan Reid and the operating consultant, the defender has, as he nears his 33rd birthday, decided against having the operation.
The 32-year-old, who only joined the Wood in the summer, following three-years with Stevenage, where made 97 appearances and scored seven times, is understandably devastated.
Wells began his career with boyhood club Brentford, but would later depart for non-league Hampton & Richmond Borough.
The defender enjoyed success with Hampton, helping the side to promotion into the Conference South, as they won the Isthmian League Premier Division. Following this, Wells would climb his way back up the divisions, with spells at Staines Town, Braintree and Stevenage.
Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard said: “The defender will be greatly missed around Meadow Park, both on-and-off the field.”
Garrard continued: “It is sad news with Dean, I felt that he came into this football club, not only as a player whose strengths I knew, but I knew what he had done as a player in Non-League, let alone in the Football League, with Stevenage.
“I feel that he brings a presence, he brings a knowledge, a nous, and he was colossal in terms of our unbeaten run. I feel for him and I have been through the injury myself, so I know what it takes to recover from it. He has made the decision that he is not going to go along with the operation and we support him in that.
“I just want to thank him for all of his efforts once again at the club, and by all means he is welcome to come down at any time, because I feel that in his short space of time here, he has played a massive part in the progression of this squad.”
Wood Chairman Danny Hunter said: “I’m absolutely gutted, it’s been a hugely difficult time for Dean, and he was playing so well, he was settled, he was very much one of our big players and he was a leader. For me, the team was always so much better with him in it, and he was I feel, along with Stevo, and Champ, a catalyst for our unbeaten run.
“Unfortunately, I was told the bad news prior to Christmas in terms of his injury, but I asked the medical staff and Luke to say nothing to ensure that Dean could enjoy his Christmas and new year, with his family and friends, in blissful ignorance of what I knew we were going to have to tell him.
“Unfortunately, in these moments, someone has to sit down with a player and spell out their options, and in Deans case that was myself, with both Luke and Megan Reid in attendance. Trust me when I say, the medical cost didn’t come into it, whatever Dean needed, whatever he wanted, he would of gotten here, as I have a duty of care to our players.
“Dean simply listened, went off and discussed his options with Megan Reid, the consultant, his family and no doubt battled with his conscience. After that, he simply felt as he neared 33, and after having the op – that he would then of had a year’s rehab to overcome. Even after all that, there was no certainty that he would get back to the level he’s been used too.
“As such, he made a tough decision based on his family and his future and I applaud him for that. Trust me when I say, he’ll be sorely missed by me, Luke, my staff, the dressing room and the fans. He is a man’s man and he says it as it is. I’m currently arranging a leaving dinner in his honour, but we’ll really struggle to replace him both as a player and as a man.”
Everyone at Boreham Wood Football Club would like to wish Dean the very best in whatever the future holds for him.