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Non-league Football

Boreham Wood

About Meadow Park
Boreham Wood
Meadow Park is a nice non-league ground with a large park on one side and houses on the other.  It is a mix of the old with some of the darkest and dankest toilets known to man, and the new with a nice main stand.  and decent club house.  It is also the home to the Arsenal Ladies team (FA Women’s Premier League), and Watford Reserves (FA Premier Reserve League South). It has a capacity of 4,502. It consists of one seated stand with a capacity of 500, one covered terrace along the western side of the pitch and two un-covered terraces at either end of the pitch.

How to get to Meadow Park
Boreham Wood
From M25 (Junction 23, South Mimms) Follow A1 south (London bound) Take first exit (marked Borehamwood A5135) Follow towards town centre (past BP Connect) Pass Shell garage and Police station on left Take 3rd exit (right) at Studio Roundabout into Brook Road, Take first right Broughinge Road, (just after Car Park) Follow round into Club Car Park (Barrier will raise when you drive up to it) .

Nearest British Rail Station is Elstree & Borehamwood (3/4 Mile) walk through High Street. Local Buses: 107,292,398,602,606,656, B76, B77, B78

How to get a ticket for Meadow Park
Pay on the door for all with plenty of room.  2009/10 prices were £9 for Adults and £4 for children and senior citizens.  I would imagine this will rise by £1 for 2010/11.

Our last visit – April 2011

Lewes’s relegation was confirmed after the 2-1 home defeat to Bishop Stortford on Monday.  Nobody at the club ranted and raved about poor decisions, bad luck or conspiracies.  Dignity was the order of the day at the Dripping Pan with preparations for the final game away to Boreham Wood.  The club wanted to end the season with a win, not just for the fans but also to try and finish third from bottom.

The reason?  In the six year history of the Conference South no team finishing third from bottom has eventually been relegated.  Many have tried such as Maidenhead United, Hayes (twice), Weston-Super-Mare, Thurrock and Worcester City but none have succeeded.  In fact even finishing second to bottom is no guarantee of demotion as only two teams have ever been relegated in this position – last season Weston-Super-Mare the latest example of staying up in penultimate place.  So where there is uncertainly, there is hope.  And what better uncertainty than in Non League football.

So it was with some hope we traveled up to Borehamwood to say goodbye to Lewes’s annus horribulus, as well as undoubtably a few of the playing squad.  Boreham Wood FC (note – this is not a spelling mistake – Boreham Wood is the name of the team despite the fact they play in Borehamwood) is not my favourite place after the Ryman Premier Play off last season.  Almost a year to the day of those dark days of football I doubted significantly that the crowd would break the 200 mark.

Whilst Boreham Wood’s first season at this level can be seen to be a success on the pitch, consolidation was always going to be the objective, you can hardly say that their promotion had set the town a-buzzing.  In fact regular attendances of sub-200 makes you wonder how they actually funded their season.  Even if everyone paid full price for admission (which of course they wouldn’t as there would be season ticket holders, comps, visiting officials etc) then they would get £2,200 in gate revenue approximately every two weeks.  Whilst the playing budgets of most team are kept under lock and key, we know enough to say that no club operates anywhere near this level.

Boreham Wood

One area where they have simply lost the plot is on pricing for Under 16’s.  I nearly choked when I was told it was £6 for Lolly, a ten year old.  Six pounds?  That is absolutely ridiculous.  Half of the clubs in the Blue Square South let Under16’s in free.  The most expensive I had come across this season was £3 at Chelmsford City.  Six pounds?  You are having a laugh.  I asked a steward if I could talk to the club secretary.  He was busy, it was a match day after all.  But the steward told me that the pricing was “fair and comparative to what other clubs charge”.  Was it any surprise that there was no other under 16’s in the ground bar the two in the Lewes contingent and the ball boys.  Hello…does that not tell you anything?

Brian Potter once said “Children are our future” (he also said that Garlic bread was but we will ignore that for now).  Premier League clubs are pricing kids out of the game, we all know that, but what else is there on offer close by?  Watford?  Luton? Barnet?  Watford charge £13 for under 16’s which is hardly a bargain.

And how many under16’s live in the estate surrounding the ground?  A couple of hundred?  Simple business idea here – let kids in free as long as an adult pays, thus kids will drag parents along, who then spend money on beer, sweets, etc etc.  Am I being too sensible here? Don’t any of the officials of the club look around the empty terraces and think “where are all the kids?”  Do they not look on with envy when they go to clubs like Lewes and see smiling happy kids wearing replica shirts, spending their pocket money at the club?  Obviously not.  The club shop at Boreham Wood sat open without any customers on this sunny day. What is the marginal cost of letting under 16’s in free?  How many resources do they take up?  The answer is zero.  It is 100% profit so why be greedy?Reap what you sow.

Boreham Wood 3 Lewes 0 – Meadow Park – Saturday 30th April 2011

Boreham Wood

Despite the poor attendance it was good to see bigger than normal Lewes travelling contingent.  My one main criticism this season has been the fans have been too quick to get on the back of the team and management based on a view from home games alone.  It has been the same dozen or so faces at most away games but for the last game a few more faces had come out into the sunshine. And with the game just a minute or so old they nearly had something to cheer about as a Wheeler free kick was flicked goalwards forcing the keeper to make a fantastic one handed save.

Lewes actually played quite well for long periods of the hot first half.  Talisman David Wheeler, undoubtably playing his last game for the club as he heads back off to college in West London for next season, kept sending the balls in for “The Unit” aka Danny Buckle, but the Boreham Wood back four looked quite solid and surely but slowly the home team got into the game, striking the woodwork in the twenty fifth minute from a shot from distance.  With time running out in the half and the bar seeming the best option for us, Boreham Wood took the league.  A corner was floated into the Lewes box and the defence were obviously concentrating on their half term oranges as Risbridger headed home.

Boreham Wood

Half time scores were looking good for a third from bottom finish as long as they could turn around this game.  But they couldn’t.  Wilkinson doubled the lead with another header from a set piece in the 68th minute and three minutes later Garrard added a third.  It was harsh on Lewes but on many an occasion since Christmas they had been put to the sword by teams in the second half of games.

So the referee brought an end to the game, and Lewes’s season.  Where we will end up is now completely out of our hands.  Rumours are rife about clubs up and down the pyramid who are looking for a way out of their current financial situation by taking a voluntary relegation.  But that is for another day.  The team sat on the pitch in a circle as manager Tim O’Shea debriefed them.  How many would be in a similar situation in just three months time?  We can but speculate.

Boreham Wood

We said our goodbyes to David Wheeler, our David Wheeler who has shown commitment to the club in the past three years and he looked genuinely sad that he was (probably) leaving the club in such a circumstances.  But he has to move on.  After all Football is a business, right?

More photos from the disappointing afternoon in the sunshine can be foundhere.

May 2010

1st May 2010 should go down as the most memorable date in the history for Boreham Wood FC for the reason they finally won promotion to step 2 of the non-league football pyramid.  Unfortunately it wont, or at least by the vast majority of the 1,100 fans who were in the neat and tidy Meadow Park ground on Saturday.  It will be remembered for an assault on the Kingstonian captain, Francis Duku after a fan ran onto the pitch in the 50th minute.

Boreham Wood

I do not know what is worse.  The fact that this individual felt he could and should take such action, or that the club have so far simply glossed over the fact.  A look on their home pagesimply mentions the win that elevates the club to their highest league position in their 62 year history, yet nothing about the incident, or the number of fans who continued to encroach onto the pitch before the final whistle.  It is also quite a while since  I have heard songs such as “No Surrender” sung at a domestic game in this country, quite what the group of “fans” were trying to achieve was beyond me.  One can only hope for the sake of the club that the crowd yesterday, swelled by nearly four fold, contained the elements that wont be returning next year. It was interesting to see that the club had used segregation in the ground and the police presence was high for a club of this size, as if they expected some incident.

Boreham Wood

So Boreham Wood, assuming the FA will do absolutely nothing about the incident, will take their place next season in Blue Square South alongside the likes of Ebbsfleet United, Dover Athletic and local rivals St Albans City – which I am sure will be a quiet affair.  Ian Allinson’s team deserve credit for their recent form that had taken them into the play offs and then pulled off a shock win away at form team Aveley in the semi-finals.  Kingstonian can look back at a season where for so long they had been in second place with some pride as well, considering they were only promoted 12 months ago.

Boreham Wood 2 Kingstonian 0 – Meadow Park – Saturday 1st May

Boreham Wood

With so much riding on such games, they are rarely any good.  I have to say that this one was the exception.  Both teams went on the attack from the first minute and I would not have liked to have had a bet on first team to score in the opening period.Boreham Wood, despite finishing the season one place above the visitors,  had not beaten Kingstonian this season.  Yet they should have taken the lead when Chris Watters header flashed narrowly wide as too did the very impressive Ryan Moran.

A rare half time treat was a visit to the “Burger Bar”, which amazingly when we arrived had run out of burgers.  However, our tattooed and pierced hosts soon conjured up some more non-league delights including some handy glass bottles of J2O – nothing like adding petrol to the flames.  By this stage we had moved from behind the goal.  The growing ban of Burberry and Stone Island is not an uncommon sight at games in England, but to see it here was unusual.  as we have mentioned, this is a club who get an average attendance of just over 250.  Yet here was a group who “hated Barnet” – who actually hates Barnet?  How can anyone hate Barnet?  A small, almost non-league club themselves (well they could be in a week’s time!) who are hardly known for saying boo to a goose.  The goading of the opposition keeper is a ritual at non-league games.  They poor individual has nowhere to hid and it is obvious that the comments are directed at him.  But these were bizarre.  One group of fans kept calling him “Sweetheart”.  I assumed his name was something like Darling, but how do you get Sweetheart from Tolfrey?  Normal service was resumed when a young teenager next to me informed him that he (the kid) had “Shagged your mum up the arse and then your Dad tried to suck me off”…As a responsible parent should I call Childline?

Boreham Wood

The second half was barely five minutes old when the main talking point occurred.  From a Kingstonian corner the ball ended up in the net, but the referee ruled that Duku had fouled a Boreham Wood player.  To many this “foul” seemed to actually be a deliberate elbow and the referee was ready to take appropriate action when a “fan” hurdled the fence and appeared to punch the Kingstonian captain before trying to escape. Boreham Wood’s keeper, Tucker tried to catch him and the linesman quickly pointed him out to the Police who immediately arrested the chap.  Sympathy can therefore be the only reason why the referee did not issue a red card.

Boreham Wood did get their just reward though in the 68th minute when from an Allinson freekick Ryan Moran headed home at the far post.  Queue another pitch invasion, all be it one of delight.  One so nearly became two a few minutes later when Noto’s shot was well tipped over.

Boreham Wood

The home team began to take control of the game but were lucky to finish with eleven men as Seanla got involved with theKingstonian full back minutes after getting a yellow for verbally abusing the linesman.  Again we can only assume the referee felt it may cause further issues with the crowd.  With the clock ticking down Kingstonian threw everything forward, hoping to force extra time andDuku came close but for a fine save by Tucker.

The game was wrapped up in the final minutes when Dewayne Clarke, who appeared to be going nowhere down the right flank cut inside and unleashed a shot and a half from twenty five yards into the top corner.  Of course we had another pitch invasion, this time led by one of the Boreham Wood substitutes and it took at least a minute of the ineffectual stewards to retain control of the pitch.  Four minutes of injury time were run down by the home team and the final whistle at last meant that Boreham Wood had reached the Blue Square South.

Boreham Wood

Next season will be a tricky season for Ian Allinson’s men.  The likes of Ebbsfleet United and Forest Green Rovers have applied to join the Blue Square South, and added to teams such as Dover Athletic,  Dartford and Havant it will be a strong league.  We are all for teams creating a passionate home following but if they allow such incidents as those from this game to continue they will win few friends at this level.

More pictures from the day can be found here.


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