Garrard Gets Wood Fired Up For FA Cup Trip To Everton

Six years ago, Luke Garrard was thrown into the deep end of football management with Boreham Wood staring relegation in the face.

Garrard, then just 30, took the hotseat after Ian Allinson left the club.

In a dramatic relegation scrap that went to the final day, Garrard kept the Wood in the National League with a 3-0 defeat of Welling.

So did he ever picture a scene where he led the club deep into the FA Cup? It was way off.

“Seven years ago, I was in a relegation battle with a new-born and caring for my mother and I nearly quit.

“I went into the chairman’s office and told him I wasn’t ready for this. It was hard then so when people say this is pressure, it’s nothing.

“This could have been my first and last job. Back then, could I have envisaged us to be where we are in the National League? 100%. Could I have envisaged us being in the fifth round of the FA Cup? Not in my wildest dreams.

“We know how tough it is to replicate this kind of season year on year. We’re smart with it, we spend our money in the right areas on staff and infrastructure and it gives us a platform to build on.”

In a better place years later, Garrard says particular moments from their incredible FA Cup run this season give him shivers.

But it was a message from Everton boss Frank Lampard had him feeling ‘giddy’ after their win over Bournemouth.

“I got wind that the PA of Frank Lampard wanted my number,” Garrard beams.

“Like a giddy little kid I rang the chairman because I know he’s Chelsea mad and he jokingly said ‘why doesn’t he want my number?’.

“He [Frank Lampard] then messages me so I called the chairman again and he was all gooey – that’s the best expression I can use.

“For him to see one of his idols on the side of the pitch with one of his managers is incredible for him.

“I look through what he achieved as a player and a manager. He texted me after the Bournemouth game.

“Just to have five minutes with him before or after the game is something I’m looking forward to. We can talk about his amazing playing career but to do what he did for me is incredible and it shows the measure of the man.”

Whether they’re celebrating or commiserating later this evening, Garrard admits he doesn’t think it will sink it for some time.

“I adore this club and the fans, and I adore this town,” he said.

“I believe we will not understand the magnitude of this cup run until we sit down and have a beer in the summer. It’s unbelievable. Boreham Wood are going to Everton in a competitive fixture in the FA Cup fifth round. That’s what dreams are made of.

“This is a club that has been building to do stuff like this and I honestly believe this has been a longer process off the back of what the chairman did two years ago.

“There’s no special emphasis on things because it’s Everton. Walking out at King’s Lynn, Maidenhead and Eastleigh is slightly different to Goodison Park, I get that. But we have to have a focus on the job in hand.”

One of the more light-hearted questions put to Garrard was the issue of players swapping shirts.

Other teams have banned players from doing it in previous rounds – something Garrard isn’t buying at all.

In fact, he’s eyeing up a special memento of his own.

“What we’ve achieved this year has gripped the nation’s hearts,” Garrard says.

“There are things I have in my head now from through the rounds that will live long in my memory. All I want is one moment. That’s all I want and if we can achieve that then we’ve been successful at Goodison.

“I’m taking his shirt off his [Frank Lampard’s] back. I’ll take his tracksuit and his pants. If the lads can get a shirt, I’m getting everything.

“The priority is the league. We set out to get out of the National League.

“But my lord that feeling if the final whistle goes this evening and we do the unthinkable I would be an absolute wreck.”

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