For Luke Garrard, it was all about creating a moment, a rush of joy, something to remember for ever and, given the odds against his Boreham Wood team in the FA Cup fourth round at Bournemouth on Sunday, the manager would have taken anything – and especially a goal.
Garrard got that and what a story it was for the captain, Mark Ricketts, at 37 years young, when he threaded home a low sidefoot on 38 minutes to give the National League side the lead. Ricketts had not trained from Tuesday to Friday and he did the bare minimum on Saturday as he nursed an injury that needed an injection last Monday.
“Mark was still feeling it after the session on Saturday,” Garrard says. “I said: ‘I don’t care. You’re walking us out at Bournemouth. I don’t care if it’s 15 minutes or 20 minutes. You deserve that.’”
Garrard wanted the moment for his players, particularly the stalwarts such as Ricketts; for the fans; for the chairman, Danny Hunter, who has done everything since his takeover in 1999 and, yes, for himself. Why not? “When we scored the first goal, I would probably have taken a 5-1 loss … just to have a moment,” Garrard says.
Garrard and everybody connected to the club ended up with so much more and the scenes after the final whistle, when little Boreham Wood had hung on to win 1-0 and set up a fifth-round tie at Everton, featured plenty of people taking leave of their senses.
At 11pm the previous night, Garrard had received a FaceTime call from a member of the club’s staff who was already in Bournemouth at a hotel. “There were 30 or 40 fans [outside the hotel] and they were singing my name … incredible,” he says. After 17 years at Boreham Wood, initially as a player and as the manager since October 2015, his bond with the support is unbreakable.
Garrard was in tears at full time, partly because he had his wife and two young sons at the stadium, along with other family members and friends. He stayed back at first to allow the players to celebrate in front of the away end but, a little later, he had his moment alone with them. There was a touch of the Jürgen Klopps about his fist pump and their cheers.
Boreham Wood, whose players are full-time professionals, have earned roughly £240,000 in prize money from the Cup run. They collected £110,000 in TV money from the Bournemouth tie and, when their shares of gate receipts are factored in, it is believed they have made about £500,000 – with more to come at Everton, particularly if it is televised.
“This will fill a small void in a big black hole,” Garrard says, as he reflects on the impact of the pandemic on the club. “But I’ll tell you now that the chairman would pay half a million to have a moment like this. Because he’s saying that he’s coming towards the later stages of his life.
“Money is money. He says it to me every time. Don’t worry about the money. He never puts pressure on me to go on a Cup run. But to create those moments …”
Garrard is asked whether he shared a moment with Hunter after the match. “I’ve made a fat man happy,” he says, smiling. “And that’s not me … I sound so rude. He says it in his interviews. ‘You make a fat man happy.’”
He can be familiar with Hunter, he can poke fun, because they are so tight. “It’s not a chairman-manager relationship. He calls me his sixth son. I just love the man.
“There is a pandemic but he paid everyone at the club 100%. He gave everyone £100 a week to pay for their [online] food shopping so they wouldn’t have to go to the supermarkets and risk bringing Covid back to their homes. I was getting unbelievable steak every week. He remortgaged his house [in March 2020 to put the money into the club].”
Garrard was impressed by the Bournemouth manager, Scott Parker, who came into the dressing room to congratulate them. “I have to say: ‘Who does that?’” Garrard says. “For him to have that about him after a defeat is incredible.” He has asked Parker whether he can shadow him in training for four or five days at some point.
So now for Everton. Now for Frank Lampard and his assistant manager, Ashley Cole. “I’m an Arsenal man so to see Ashley Cole … I probably won’t know how to put two words together,” Garrard says. “Frank Lampard is an England legend, a Chelsea legend. But I’ll be asking him the same thing I did with Scott Parker. ‘Can I come in and shadow you?’ He’s unbelievable. Hopefully he keeps the score under 10.
“My players deserve this. They deserve to walk out at Goodison and hear the [Z Cars] music. The hair on the back of my neck has just gone up thinking about the music.”
The Boreham Wood story has got all the ingredients for a film so perhaps the nearby Elstree Studios should give it some thought. “That’s nice,” Garrard says. “I’ll have Brad Pitt. He can play me.”