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A tribute to Boreham Wood FC president Bill O’Neill
By Peter Smith, Club Director

All of us at Boreham Wood were saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved club chairman Bill O’Neill last Wednesday, at the ripe old age of 96.

It is impossible to overestimate the role Bill played in our history, and indeed he was a founding member of the club in 1948. Danny has transformed the club over the last 25 years and we have reached heights no one could have ever dreamed of . back then, but he is the first to acknowledge that none of it would have been possible without everything Bill did for the club throughout his life.

It’s hard to know where to start in documenting everything Bill did, but I think the best place is to go back to the summer of 1948, when he led a meeting in the sanctuary of All Saints Church in Shenley Road, when the two existing local clubs in the town merged and Boreham Wood Football Club was formed. Bill even played in the very first trial match played on a field in Theobald Street, which had been the Polish Army camp during the war and had ended just a few years before.

Bill was instrumental in requesting our first real home base in Eldon Avenue, but while there are so many stories about that time (including Bill playing for the team and then managing the team), I feel we should move on to the moment we started playing on our current team. land in Broughinge Road in August 1963.

Bill was again the main architect of the move here and it was at that point that his design skills and hard work really came to the fore. Only followers of the club of a certain age (myself included) can remember the club as it was then, but we were all very proud of our facilities back then, remembering it was over 60 years ago!

Bill had been on the Management Committee for many years and was the driving force behind the various construction works that were underway as we gradually started building our new stadium. He was elected club president on June 28, 1968, a position he would proudly hold until December 6, 1990.

With all due respect to the many other people involved with the club over that long period when Bill was “in charge”, no one will dispute that he was the mastermind of everything that happened. Personally, I have many memories of digging holes, laying foundations and building brick walls in the clubhouse, mowing and marking the field, and even finding time to work with our team managers of the day, including of course Danny’s father Micky.

I can remember many times returning from away games with them, both with happy smiles and laughter (we had won) and extremely foul language (we had lost). Funny enough we all used to complain about referees, just like now, some things don’t change!

One of the great joys of my life associated with the club has been sitting next to Bill on so many of the special occasions we have enjoyed over the years – both our Play Off victories, including promotion to the National League, the first times we defeated a Football League club in the FA Cup, and especially when we achieved the dream of playing on the hallowed turf of Wembley in the National League Play Off Final on 12 May 2018.

If I may, I would like to add a few sentences of a personal nature here, as my late wife and I spent many happy evenings with Bill and his dear wife Thelma in their beautiful home in Cowley Hill at their legendary dinner parties. Despite apparent reluctance on his part, Bill always turned on the piano at the insistence of his guests. Bill couldn’t read a note, but he was a brilliant pianist and could play any song you asked him to! So many happy memories.

However, it would be wrong not to conclude with a further reference to his life in service to the club. In summary, Bill was instrumental in forming the club, building the new ground here at Meadow Park and setting us on the path to the glory we have achieved over the last 25 years.

Bill told me more than once that his proudest moment was when he was appointed club chairman, a fitting tribute in honor of his lifelong service to the club and a role he held until his death.

On behalf of Danny and everyone here at Boreham Wood FC, I would like to send our love and sincere condolences to Bill’s daughter Amanda, son Chris and all the family members. The club will of course be well represented at Bill’s funeral, in honor of his lifelong love for our club.

He truly was the original “Mr Boreham Wood FC”.