Luke Garrard interview: FA Cup run is all about making memories, not money, for Boreham Wood

In charge: Luke Garrard  (AFP via Getty Images)
In charge: Luke Garrard (AFP via Getty Images)

Whenever Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard casts his mind back to their FA Cup run last season, the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

The National League side from Hertfordshire enjoyed a dream run to the fifth round, before their journey ended with defeat against Everton at Goodison Park.

It earned them a much-needed financial boost of more than £1million, after chairman Danny Hunter had remortgaged his house to keep the club going during the Covid pandemic.

Now Boreham Wood are dreaming of doing it all again. They are the lowest-ranked team left in this year’s competition and host League One Accrington in the third round tomorrow. But Garrard insists it is more about making memories, not money, that is most appealing to them.

Wood Wonders

Last season’s FA Cup run

Q: Barnet (a) - Won 1-0

R1: Eastleigh (h) - Won 2-0

R2: St Albans (h) - Won 4-0

R3: AFC Wimbledon (h) - Won 2-0

R4: Bournemouth (a) - Won 1-0

R5: Everton (a) - Lost 2-0

“The journey home after beating Bournemouth in the fourth round last year was fantastic,” he tells Standard Sport. “The hairs on the back of my neck have gone up just remembering it.

“If we had driven round the M25 seven times, I’d have been over the moon. The chairman was coming up every other minute and singing a song.

“I honestly believe if you had told the chairman he wasn’t going to get any money for the run, but he would get the memories he has got, he would do that twice over.”

Boreham Wood lived the dream for 57 minutes at Goodison Park, but Salomon Rondon scored twice as they fell just fell short in their attempt to become only the second non-League club to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.The impact of that run on the club was huge. They invested the funds in both infrastructure and their squad, while Garrard has felt the effect of it personally, too.

His two children, aged four and seven, have become huge football fans and his youngest now has Everton captain Seamus Coleman’s shirt on his bedroom wall.

“After the Cup run, they live, sleep and drink football,” says Garrard. “That is a big thing for me, because I want them to play football. It breeds togetherness, discipline and teamwork — whatever level you play at.”

Some players have left since last season’s run, after which Hunter funded a celebratory trip to Dubai for the squad. Garrard has specifically targeted lowering the average age of the group and has found it easier to attract players due to their FA Cup exploits.

Kane Smith celebrates beating Bournemouth. (Getty Images)
Kane Smith celebrates beating Bournemouth. (Getty Images)

Even now, the recruitment drive has not died down, with Boreham Wood signing defenders Cameron Coxe and Chris Bush only last week. The club was chasing promotion at the start of their FA Cup run last season, but after losing at Everton they won two of their next 17 games in the National League.

This time around, they are sat 13th in the table, three points off the play-offs and with two games in hand, and Garrard is determined there will be no drop-off.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we go stagnant,” he says. “We will need a massive reaction, whether we win or lose against Accrington. We are looking to add to the group. I think it’s huge that you do bring in competition, so there’s a freshness.”

The playing squad might be different at Boreham Wood this season, but one thing that has not changed is their post-match singalong.

The team went viral after their third-round win over AFC Wimbledon, when their dressing-room rendition of Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus was shared all over social media.

By the time they reached the fifth round, the band were sending them good-luck messages and they have kept the song as part of their post-match celebrations for FA Cup wins.

“After the AFC Wimbledon game, we turned the music on and it was just the first song playing,” says Garrard. “From then onwards, it was our song in the Cup. That has carried on from last year. And you know what it does? It helps you reset and pulls you back into those memories.”

Win tomorrow, and Garrard will have another great memory to look back on — and a new Cup run to look forward to.