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Woodman delighted Bromley promoted
Woodman delighted Bromley promoted

Although it took winning a penalty shoot-out to achieve it, Bromley manager Andy Woodman finally fulfilled his ambition of taking Bromley into the English Football League.

After the match, when asked how he felt he said: “Relief is certainly the first word that springs to mind. I’m just delighted. You can see the crowd that we brought, you can see what it means to the town. It’s a massive step, for both clubs it would have been.”

“I felt that we had moments when we were good and moments in the game when I thought ‘oof, we’re hanging on here, we’re blowing a gasket’. Then we got a second wind and I felt that when it got to extra time we were fitter and stronger. Thankfully, we had the guys and the goalie that got us across the line.”

Part of his relief was due to the difficulty in getting promoted with only two clubs going up. “It’s relentless to get out of this league and I’m really going to bang the drum for all the clubs in this league because it’s got to be three (up)” said Woodman.

“It’s so hard. Solihull will feel gutted and Barnet will feel gutted because they never got out when they finished second so that’s something that I feel think really should be changed but I can’t worry about that today. I want to enjoy my team being a league two football club for the first time in their 132 year history.”

There have been opportunities for Woodman to move on from Bromley. He confirmed: “I turned down a couple of jobs in League One and League Two because I wanted to show some loyalty because I felt that I owed it to the owner, I owed it to the players, and I owed it to the fanbase.”

“I feel now that’s my job done. I’ve done what I set out to do. I’ll be the man, with this group of players, that got this team into the league. I’ve kept banging the drum to the guys. I showed them old photographs of teams last year, from 1911, 1922, whichever years and I said (to them) ‘Guys, you now hold the chance to get this team into the league. No-one has done it in 132 years.”. These boys embraced it. They embraced that we wanted to make history, our bit of history, and we’ve done that.”

“At the time that I turned down Gillingham, I just didn’t feel that it’s the right time. I felt that I owed the owner a bit of loyalty for putting his trust in me that I feel that I’ve repaid and I felt that I owed the players.”

“Also, I was on this journey myself. I wouldn’t say that I was learning because I’ve been in football a long time. Management is a lonely position sometimes. I’ve had to change the way I am as a person a little bit.”

“People know me as a joker and all of that. You’ve got to put a different hat on sometimes and it’s been a nice learning curve for me to show the other side of myself, the professional side of myself, and hopefully clubs will start looking at Andy Woodman as a professional football manager.”

During the latter part of extra time, Alex Kirk’s had a shot that came back out off the inside of the upright and Woodman might have started to have doubts. He admitted: “That came off the post, we had a header that hit the bar, I felt that they (Solihull) were struggling at that point. A few injuries, a few cramps, and you do start questioning if the football Gods are not shining down on you but we got to penalties and, thankfully, we got across the line.”

“Everyone has that fear that when you don’t make it in the play-offs the following year is going to be a disaster. We’ve seen that a couple of clubs got in there last year but they’ve really struggled this year. I was never going to let that happen. This has become a bit of an obsession for me, almost an unhealthy obsession, to get this club into the league.”

Having done that, Woodman intended to celebrate in style. He joked: “We’re going to enjoy it tonight and we are going to go overboard. Everybody says ‘keep it low key’ but we’re going to really enjoy it and I’m going to give myself a couple of days rest because it’s been relentless for me and my family.”

After the dust has settled he will start his preparations for next season, knowing that he already has a good core of players.

“The clubs that go up seem to do okay.” he said. “I’m not one of these guys who just wants to go up and just stay up. That’s not my style. It never will be my style. I’ll have to sit down with the Chairman this week and see what he wants to do.”

“I didn’t realise that Callum Reynolds has never played in the league. I didn’t realise that he’s never played at Wembley. Michael Cheek’s never played in the league. Three years ago when I got to the end of the season and released some good honest players Michael Cheek came to me and said ‘I want to leave. I don’t think we’re going to achieve and I think you’ve got rid of all the players.’ and I said ‘Trust me. I will get you into the league.’ and he stuck with me, he trusted me, he say the progression and we had a moment on the pitch when he said ‘I’ve trusted you and you’ve paid me back.’ and I said ‘You’ve paid me back’.”

When seasons end, there tend to be a few players who leave and new players who come in but Woodman wants consistency. He confirmed: “I’ve kept a core. We’ve put some good young players through this football club as well. If they’re good enough then they’ll get in and they’ll play and I’ve trusted them.”

“That was probably a little bit of my experience from working at Arsenal Football Club. Mikel (Arteta) and Arsene (Wenger) and Unai (Emery), who I worked with, they put these guys in and you’ve got to let them flourish at some point. Those boys have flourished and it’s brilliant. The future’s looking good.”

“Do you know what’s lovely about Jude Arthurs? Two years ago I left him out of the squad for the Wembley match and it’s stayed with me and it’s haunted me so I’m really chuffed for him today.”

“I’ve left two other boys out of the squad today and it’s a bit of management that people don’t always talk about. One of them has played pretty much every game for me this season and he was left out and that’s haunting me a little bit but I have to do what’s right for the team and on this occasion I have done what’s right for the team.”

When Woodman first joined Bromley, it was his first appointment as a manager and he wasn’t happy that some people were negative about the choice that Bromley’s board made.

“There were one or two doubters when I got this job.” he confirmed. “One or two eyebrows raised and that always surprises me because I’ve been in this game thirty-seven years. That’s a thirty-seven year apprenticeship to this day and I’d like to think I know one or two things about football. Hopefully, behind the joking and the smiling, people might start taking me a bit more seriously as a football manager.”

“There was a chip on my shoulder because there were some comments from people that I probably shouldn’t have listened to but I’m glad that I did because it drove me more. Why do they think that Andy Woodman, who was an ex goalie coach, can’t be a manager?”

“I spent my whole life playing football. I spent my whole life coaching football, thirty-seven years so that kind of annoyed me, particularly when it came from people who haven’t worked or coached in the Premiership so that hurt me and also I thank them for that because it drove me on. I must also mention, it’s not just Andy Woodman.”

“I’ve got good staff round me. I must mention my assistant manager Alan Dunne. He’s been absolutely brilliant since I’ve been here and I’ve got to say if you want to go shoulder to shoulder (with you), you know Alan Dunne’s football career of being at Millwall. If you want someone in the trenches with you, you know Alan Dunne’s the man. I’m delighted for him and he should really get a special mention.”

“I have chatted with a lot of managers and towards the end of my coaching when I started realising that I wanted to have a go at management, I’ve worked with these managers. I’ve worked with Arsene, and I’ve worked with Alan Pardew, and Sam Allardyce, all these managers. You go back to Steve Coppell and you look at these guys and you kind of take bits and pieces of them. I think if you’re a good human being.”

“I don’t coach my players or manage them with a stick. If you’re a good human being and your honest, which I pride myself on, I think you can get players who are honest and they will run through a wall for you and I think it’s fair to say we’re not the best team, but we’re the most honest hard working team.”

“Those boys showed that today and they’ve shown it every single game for me. There’s different ways of management and I’ve got my way and I’ve got a group of players who’ve responded to my way of management.”

Pictures supplied by Dave Budden.