The players' are still running out to an empty stadium and our support levels are frustrating the life out of me, admits Boreham Wood chairman Danny Hunter
BOREHAM WOOD chairman Danny Hunter admits his club attracting a crowd of 407 against Sutton United in the National League is laughable.
The Wood are in sixteenth-place in the table, having collected five points from as many games and they travel to third-placed Bromley on Saturday (15:00), before hosting Ebbsfleet United at Meadow Park on Bank Holiday Monday, 26 August (15:00).
Boreham Wood were runners up in the Conference South when Bromley claimed the league title in April 2015 and both have been in the top-flight ever since.
The club revealed that out of the crowd of 407, 130 were Sutton United fans and the Boreham Wood chairman wants more support from its local community.
“If you look at the averages, we are already over 500 supporters less than the next worst supported club in the National League,” Mr Hunter told www.borehamwoodfootballclub.co.uk.
“Other than the bigger games against the big clubs who carry large away support, we are after five years at National League level, clearly still no bigger than an Isthmian League or Southern League club.
“Saturday’s abysmal crowd just makes me feel sad, as so much hard work goes into making this club over achieve every year and we just want a bit more support for those efforts.
“The lower than normal crowd could be put down to 300 Adult and OAP £99 season ticket holders, who took up our offer but never bothered to turn up and support us.
“But it does feel that the town will turn out for the bigger cup games and a derby against Barnet but then seem to want to support the club from their front rooms, from the local pubs and bars and get themselves updated on social media.
“There’s nothing more that I can do here. I’ve tried everything and if we’re honest, whatever I do or try to do to increase home support nothing seems to work.
“But 407 as a gate attendance at our level is laughable so I can’t keep making the same excuses to myself about the lack of interest anymore.
“I can’t keep spending on ground improvements and increased first team and staffing levels if nobody wants to come and watch us.
“I can’t keep wasting my money, if the apathy of a town continues and it won’t support a club to compete at National League level.
“It should be remembered that we’ve been a really successful community club for over a decade, we’ve come up four league’s since 2005-06 and now sit as an established National League club during my tenure here.
“I’ve increased the playing budget in that time by more than 800%. I’ve built two brand new stands, we’ve built a new pitch, added a sprinkler system, we’ve replaced the old floodlights, we’ve built six new changing rooms, twice rebuilt new astro pitch training facilities, while not forgetting that this town and club went to Wembley in a Play-Off Final.
“Most of that was done on crowds that I could fit into my back garden but you would expect them by now to have really improved.
“I still consistently subsidise away travel, I still put on the free breakfasts and even created the £99 season ticket for people. That offer in truth is daylight robbery and works out at a little bit more than £3 per game and still people don’t come in their numbers to support us on a consistent basis.
“I have again tried to push myself, push my staff and push the present budget to the max and we’ve gone and got new players because we knew we were poor in certain areas both on and off the park last season.
“I’ve personally spent another half a million since February and along with the £330,000 from the Football Foundation, £150,000 from the Town Council and £100,000 from Arsenal, we’ve spent close to £1.2 million pounds over the summer on a host of facility upgrades and a brand new North Stand.
“I’ve increased the first team budget and all I seem to hear in every boardroom I enter is that Arsenal pay for this and Arsenal pay for that, which is a long, long way from the truth.
“They are a long-standing partner, who also expect an awful lot from us for their money, which I’m ok with but we’re certainly not where we are because of Arsenal or any single partner. We are where we are because were a well-run, well managed club, built from the bottom up and have great staff.
“I need to get real and I must also recognise what my family needs. I need to look at what I’m actually getting back in terms of terrace support from everyone as I cannot be all things to this club any longer.
“For over 20 years and even with a lack of support, I’ve tried to improve things for local people, with the work we do within our community, but our crowds just never seem to improve in the way that I see at other local clubs like Sutton, Bromley and Maidenhead and it’s demoralising.
“Saturday was a real low point and I admit I do feel really low but wouldn’t you? If you took out the 100 odd adult season ticket holders who actually bothered to attend, if you took out the players and boardroom guests and took out the media and away fans, we had just 46 home adult and OAP fans turn up and pay on the day for a local National League fixture.
“I’ve now got to re-assess what more I can actually do here, as the town clearly doesn’t want to consciously support its club, so it can challenge at National League level or support us at getting to the Football League and I don’t want to just make up the numbers as I wasn’t brought up to sit on the back of the bus.
“I am enormously upset because after 21 seasons in the chair and after four or five promotions, after all the school and community initiatives and even after budgeting for the losses of the ridiculously priced early bird season tickets, nothing has changed.
“The players are still running out to an empty stadium, though we now have 100 or 125 supporters residing in the new home stand.
“Our support levels are frustrating the life out of me, as I get people on at me about us challenging the Wrexham’s, Notts County and Chesterfield’s of this world, who all get four or five thousand fans and people’s expectations of what their £99 brings is completely bonkers!
“I feel after Saturday that it might simply be the right time to re-evaluate my own ambitions and consider downsizing my year-on-year investment here and get rid of a few of the white elephants in the room. It feels that it might be the right time to accept that the current attendances and current support is the best I can hope for?
“If we can all accept that, then we can I feel enjoy what’s been achieved here as an underdog club on the crowds that we previously got and now get.
“It’s perhaps now time for the loyal Wood army to accept like me that we’re only ever going to get around 300-400 home supporters for a normal league game and the rest of the crowd for those type of games will be made up of away games.”
Visit Boreham Wood’s website: www.borehamwoodfootballclub.co.uk