“I think I’d be marched out of town if I suggested Luke Garrard was not the right man for the job”.
TT asked season ticket holder Steve Pye about his team before the FA Trophy tie this Saturday:
Hi Steven thanks for responding to my tweet! Before we talk about your team, tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you supported the men from Meadow Park?
I attended my first Boreham Wood match in May 2015, the memorable Conference South play-off final against Whitehawk at Meadow Park. I’ve been an Arsenal fan for 35 years, and my son followed in my footsteps, but getting into Arsenal matches on a regular basis was proving too expensive, so I turned my attention to non-league football. My parents met in Boreham Wood, and I spent a lot of time there visiting grandparents during my childhood, so I asked my son (who was 8 at the time) if he fancied going to some live football, and fortunately he jumped at the chance.
Before you knew it, we were travelling down from Bletchley every other week. In 2017 we purchased our first season tickets – mine costing just £100 and my son’s £30 – and the whole experience has been great for both of us. We get to do that father/son thing of going to matches most weeks (without bankrupting the family) and in a way it has made me see why I fell in love with football in the first place.
How seriously do you think the team will take the FA Trophy and were you happy with the draw V TUFC?
Boreham Wood will be right up for a decent FA Trophy run. Reading the programme notes of Danny Hunter (chairman) and Luke Garrard (manager) it is plain to see that both want another chance to walk up Wembley Way, and with the team currently in mid-table, hopefully the match on Saturday will be the start of progression to the latter rounds in the competition.
But I’m under no illusions about Saturday. Initially I was happy with the draw against Torquay, but then I heard a Gary Johnson interview on Talksport, and discovered what a great job he is doing. It’s a home draw, though, and you can’t ask for more than that.
How agonising was that play-off loss to Tranmere and have the team found it difficult to bounce back this season?
I experienced so many contrasting emotions relating to the play-off final. To get there was a major achievement when you consider the resources available at the club, and to watch Boreham Wood at Wembley was beyond our wildest dreams.
But when the dust settled it did feel like a missed opportunity. Playing against ten men for basically the whole match meant the defeat was hard to take. But the Wood were slightly below par – not helped by the absence of three key players – and you have to give full credit to Tranmere, who were superb on the day.
Bouncing back was made that much harder when a number of key players departed – Grant Smith and Bruno Andrade (Lincoln), Morgan Ferrier (Walsall), Jamie Turley (loan ended) – and inevitably with so many new faces coming in, the team has been inconsistent this season. I don’t like the term “transitional season”, but I said to my son that 2018/19 will probably end up being a campaign of consolidation.
How’s Boreham’s recent form been and what’s been your highlights of the season so far?
I’m going to have to use the term inconsistent again. Recently the team has struggled; the FA Cup first round defeat at Southport was an eye opener, and the home loss against Dover was as bad as I’ve seen the Wood play all season. But the 1-0 win over Leyton Orient demonstrated that this team is capable of beating anyone on their day. Hopefully that will be the start of something good.
The highlight for me this season was the 4-0 win at Sutton. In truth I wasn’t expecting much when I got on the train – I’m a half glass empty kind of bloke at times – but the Wood blew away a decent Sutton team that night. I was also excited that the team played in the Scottish Challenge Cup, although I was gutted we couldn’t go to the match against Dunfermline due to my mum organising her 70th birthday dinner on that day!
Which key BW players should we look out for this season and why?
A favourite player of mine is the midfielder Keiran Murtagh. He’s so comfortable on the ball, and seems to be able to create space around himself. Forwards Gozie Ugwu and Josh Umerah are both loanees, and have shown in the past that they can be a handful for teams (they turned the match when they came on against Bromley). I’m not sure if Umerah is fit for Saturday, though, so we might see a repeat of Bradley Ash and Sorba Thomas flanking Ugwu, a system that worked well against Orient.
Have you got the right man in charge and what sort of tactics does he employ?
I think I’d be marched out of town if I suggested Luke Garrard was not the right man for the job. What he has achieved in his managerial spell at the Wood is remarkable. Keeping the team up in 2015/16 was an outstanding accomplishment, and since then he has gradually stamped his mark on the team, and given us so many happy memories. It’s easy to forget he’s only 33!
The majority of the time has seen Garrard play with three centre backs, two wing backs, three in midfield, and two up top. I’m not tactical expert, but I sensed a slight change against Orient. It looked like a 4-3-3 at times, but it was probably different depending on whether Orient had the ball or not. Generally we do like to get the ball down and play if we can, but our centre backs are not opposed to launching the ball clear if needed (thankfully).
What’s Meadow Park like for visiting fans and how’s the atmosphere like at games?
I’ve heard a lot of away fans complain about Meadow Park before, mainly moaning about ticket prices. But the ground itself is decent, with the West Stand providing covered seating for the away support, and an uncovered terrace behind the goal catering for those who want to stand. Danny Hunter is currently trying his best to get planning permission through for improvements to the home terrace, and eventually the away end and East Stand, but this is proving difficult to say the least.
The Wood Army are often in good voice, but the small numbers in the ranks sometimes doesn’t help. You can always rely on them for a few witty songs, although Ebbsfleet keeper Nathan Ashmore didn’t seem too impressed recently when he jumped into the home end for a word or two with the home support. It did liven up what had been a very boring afternoon, though.
Where’s best for pre-match refreshments for the travelling Yellow Army?
I don’t get to venture to pubs too often on my trips to Meadow Park, but when my son isn’t with me, I normally go to the Hart and Spool Wetherspoons on the main street in Boreham Wood. I’ve been there for a few midweek matches, and it normally has a number of away supporters in there. It is a 5-10 minute walk to the away end, so it is ideally located.
You currently sit mid-table in the NL, are you hopeful of still challenging for promotion?
Realistically it looks as if Boreham Wood will finish in mid-table this season; not good enough to challenge for the play-offs, and hopefully not bad enough to go down. The recent win over Orient has provided a bit of hope – if we can win against a team as good as that then we should fear no one – and only time will tell if that was a one-off or a turning point. There is a small part of me that hopes that the Wood can sneak into the play-off picture, but it is usually the hope that kills you.
United have been on a great run of form inspired by Gary Johnson, what’s your prediction for Saturdays match?
I don’t like sitting on the fence, but I think it will be very tight on Saturday. The optimistic part of me feels that the win over Orient should provide the template for the future, and instil a bit of confidence in this team. My pessimistic side thinks that Torquay are flying and will arrive in Hertfordshire with no fear. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a draw, but I’ll be positive for once, and go for a 2-1 Boreham Wood win. That’s brilliant Steve, I have to be honest the Trophy is not high on my list of priorities for TUFC but it should be an entertaining game regardless – thanks for talking to us – Dom