Since the inauguration of our youth scheme in 2000, which has now evolved into the Boreham Wood PASE Academy, many of our academy players have now stepped into the professional game.
The first two to progress into the pro game were Lee Hodson and Matthew Whichelow, both were snapped up by Watford, and graduated to play first team football for the Hornets.
Following a three-year spell with MK Dons, full-back Hodson was brought by Rangers in the SPL. Lee is an ever present in the Northern Ireland senior set-up, and was a part of their Euro 2016 squad.
Matty is now at Wealdstone, having spent a period back at Boreham Wood, where he was a member of the squad who gained promotion into the National League in 2015.
In 2012, Premier League giants West Ham United snapped up Pelly Ruddock from our youth academy, after a successful trial. Having impressed Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce, Pelly put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
Pelly, who had signed his first contract with Boreham Wood only months earlier in the season, was in his third year at the club. The midfielder had enjoyed great success in the PASE Academy, winning Youth League Titles and National Cups.
Pelly had started a total of nine games at just 17 years of age in the Conference South. He became a fundamental player in the Hammers’ Under 21 and reserve teams, and was awarded with a first team debut in the Capital Cup against Burnley. Pelly played 90 minutes at centre-back, partnering James Tomkins, in a 2-0 victory.
Pelly has since been sold to League One outfit Luton Town, having impressed then Hatters boss John Still, following a loan period at Kenilworth Road. Pelly has since become a firm fan favourite amongst the Luton Town faithful and is a regular in the side.
Calaum Jahraldo-Martin, also of the PASE academy joined Premier League side Hull City in 2013. Signed by Steve Bruce, the manager said of him: “He’s been a breath of fresh air, we might have just unearthed a little gem.”
Calaum went on to become a permanent fixture in Hull City’s development squad, and made numerous first team appearances in the FA and League Cups. The forward has since had a period with Newport County, before joining Billericay Town.
Kyle Vassell, who grew up in nearby Mill Hill, was with the Wood youth system from Under 12s, before being signed by Norwich City. The forward failed to gain a scholarship while with the Canaries, and returned to Boreham Wood.
After another successful spell at Meadow Park, he was snapped up by Brentford and spent several years in the Bees academy, before dropping back into the non-league game.
After prolific spell at Bishop’s Stortford, where he netted 16 times in just 17 appearances, Peterborough came calling. Kyle has since signed for Blackpool and Rotherham and became a key member of their forward lines.
Inih Effiong has had three separate spells at Boreham Wood, having started in the club’s famous PASE Academy. Now at Dover Athletic, following a spell in the SPL with Ross County, the forward remains intent on breaking into the higher divisions.
Effiong has had numerous trials in the Football League, including Grimsby Town, Barnet and Stevenage. He was offered contracts with both Grimsby and Stevenage, but was forced to turn them down, for health reasons. Inih now leads the line for Dover and has set his sights on the Football League once more.
Simeon Akinola came through the Boreham Wood PASE academy, and made his first team debut in January 2011. Following spells with Harrow Borough and Braintree Town, he was snapped up by Barnet in 2017 and he made his Football League debut against Plymouth Argyle just a day later.
2016/17 PASE academy captain Ben Goodliffe was signed by Wolves in the summer of 2017, following a successful trial. Ben made National League appearances under Luke Garrard, before his move to Wolves and became the latest academy success story. Ben went on to captain the now Premier League side’s youth team, before earning himself a chance at first team football, with a loan spell at Dagenham & Redbridge. The centre-back has become a regular feature in the National League side’s first team.
‘One of our own’ Sorba Thomas has made the breakthrough from the PASE Academy into our first team this season under manager Luke Garrard. The winger played a bit part role in the first team last season, while continuing his development in the under 19s side. His big moment came in the National League Promotion Final at Wembley Stadium, where he came on as a substitute for the Wood, against Tranmere Rovers.
Sorba then impressed in his first pre-season with the first team, earning himself a chance in friendlies against Crystal Palace and Slough Town. He has since become a regular feature in Garrard’s side, impressing with his direct running style and skilful footwork. He scored his first Wood goal in the Herts Senior Cup, against St Margaretsbury.
Boreham Wood has over ten years' experience in placing and loaning players to various clubs in the non-league pyramid. These loans are often set up to help a player gain more experience, or to gain match time to enhance his chances to play in the BWFC first team.
BWFC's contacts throughout football enable the club to help individual players to play at a level that best suits their abilities. The club also monitors players to check progress. Over the last 5 seasons approximately 100 players have improved to the point where they are now being paid to play football within the non-league pyramid at step 6 or above.
Boreham Wood is proud that a number of players who have gone to the United States on soccer scholarships, combining football and academic talents nurtured at Boreham Wood PASE Academy to help them fulfill their dreams. These players have won full and partial scholarships to study within the American college and university system, and continue to play football. Players who have gone on to scholarships in America include: –
KAYO OKOT – FC London (University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma)
FRANCIS OTIRA – Northern Illinois University
JON CLEMENTS – Fairfield University
CHARLIE HUNTER – American University
KORAY KARAKAS – Grand Canyon University
DAN LOVEDAY – Marymount California University (Santa Barbara Community College)
MATTHEW HODGSON – Neosho County Community College