Elated Jewish fans celebrated as non-league Boreham Wood FC had a stunning FA Cup upset of championship high-flyers Bournemouth last weekend.
Bournemouth are third in the Championship and one of the favourites for promotion to the Premier League this season. Boreham Wood, fifth in the National League, will now face Everton in Liverpool next month in the fifth round of the cup.
Bar mitzvah teacher Laurence Turner, 58, of Radlett, recalled how “there was disbelief on what we were actually seeing” during Sunday’s game. “Because it’s such a small club from a small town that everyone knows each other and it was just amazing. Absolutely amazing. Still on a high from it,” he added.
The club had in recent years become “more than football. It’s social as well.”
“Where we sit, everyone around us we’re either from Radlett United, Radlett Reform, Borehamwood and Elstree. We always get much more than a minyan there.”
He hoped the results of Sunday’s game would attract even more followers to games.
“The more the merrier. What the flags normally say is that we’re a small town with big dreams so the more people that we get, the more chance we get at fulfilling those dreams.
Die-hard fan Brett Lewis, 48, said the atmosphere among fans was “as good as I’ve ever seen.” Though it was also quite tense at times. “I haven’t got any fingernails left.”
Fourteen years ago when he first began supporting the club after moving to the local area, home games had an average of around 200 supporters.
“Our support base now is probably 800 to a thousand depending on the game. And I think a lot of the difference seems to be made up by Jewish supporters. That’s my opinion.”
Mr Lewis came up with the idea for the club’s officially merchandised kippot bearing its logo and his book "Amazing Journey" about Boreham Wood came out in 2016.
He attributed the club's increasingly Jewish support partly to Borehamwood’s local demographics and frustration over Arsenal and Tottenham’s ticket prices.
“And you’ve got the kids at Yavneh College, who seem to make up probably more than half of the children that go and watch the games, so if the children go, the adults are going to go.”
Borehamwood and Elstree shul’s senior Rabbi Alex Chapper was also among those watching the game.
He told the JC: “We live very close to the stadium and always hear the crowd cheering when they score – it's usually during Shabbos lunch! We won't be making a special prayer for them because last time, when they were hoping for promotion, we did and they didn't win!”
The shul’s chair Sam Franklin extended a “mazel tov” to the team.
“We were all on the edge of our seats yesterday as Boreham Wood held on for a famous victory. I know everyone connected with our community was so proud of the performance and we can’t wait to see how the boys do against Everton. Congratulations from Borehamwood and Elstree United to Boreham Wood FC,” he added.