Luke Garrard has spent 15 years working his way through the ranks at Boreham Wood and on Saturday will lead the club in their first ever FA Cup third-round match.
Victories over Southend and Canvey Island set up a clash with Millwall that would have been arguably Meadow Park’s biggest occasion had coronavirus restrictions not necessitated an absence of fans.
Garrard is bullish and blunt in assessing his team’s chances, saying: “To create history against Canvey to get into the third round is fantastic. We want to go further.
“I’ve got someone in our ranks in Matt Rhead that played in a quarter-final of the FA Cup with Lincoln City, who were in the National League at the same stage.
“We’re daring to dream. We have that pack mentality of ensuring there’s everyone on board making the boat go faster. Millwall will know they’re in for a tough fixture tomorrow and we’ll do our utmost to get into the fourth round.”
Garrard, a former Tottenham trainee, was named manager five years ago, less than a month after his 30th birthday, and has enjoyed plenty of success since.
Boreham Wood have twice reached the National League play-offs, losing in the final to Tranmere in 2018, while earlier that season they beat a Football League club for the first time.
The manner of their 2-1 victory over Blackpool in the first round of the cup, where substitutes Blair Turgott and Dan Holman helped the non-leaguers come from behind to snatch a famous victory, is etched in Garrard’s memory.
“To go and score the winner in the 88th minute, I could probably recite you the commentator’s speech,” he said. “The manner we get the corner, Keiran Murtagh’s flick-on, Dan Holman taps it in back post and they pan around the stands and there’s friends and family.
“This isn’t about the money. The chairman has an unbelievable black hole, as have a lot of businesses. The FA funding and the TV money is brilliant – and trust me, we won’t be telling them we’ll give it back – but it’s all about the memories. We’re hopeful that we can create a memory and a moment.”
Turgott and Holman were the heroes that day, and Garrard hopes one or more of his current squad can write their name into FA Cup folklore.
“We’ve all been there, we all watch from afar when you see teams like Sutton beating Leeds, AFC Wimbledon playing Arsenal, Lincoln with Burnley,” he said.
“Someone’s going to cause an upset. Let it be us. And that’s what we have spoken about all week. We’ve had a very good week. I had to stop the training session today because it was that frantic.
“We’ve got personnel that can hurt Millwall and we have a belief at the minute with six wins in six. We know it’s a one-off game and, if we give our all and there’s any fear or uncertainty on Millwall’s part, we’ll play on that.
“I’ve watched them in seven games. I could tell you every one of them, their inside leg length, their eye colour, the lot. We’re ready.”
One player Millwall will have to be wary of is 21-year-old forward Sorba Thomas, who was the subject of a rejected bid from Charlton in October.
He said: “There’s a lot of talent in the team. Of course a few of us will talk about this is the time to shine, start putting your name out there, but no one’s really got an ego.
“I feel like everyone knows we’re there to win a game. You win a game, that’s when not just your name but the whole team will be out there.”
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