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The AFC Bournemouth story

September 30, 2009
Time to smile for Eddie Howe

Time to smile for Eddie Howe

There are a lot of things you won’t know about AFC Bournemouth. Some of you may not know that they once held the longest name in the Football League – Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic Football Club Limited. Perhaps you don’t know that their red and black kit, introduced in 1971, was based on the old AC Milan strip. The 1970’s was also the era that Ted McDougall (I have a picture of him scoring a diving header against Aston Villa on my wall – that’s how good he was) scored 9 goals in an 11-0 victory against Margate. These are all things of the past, but it’s the present that the Cherries’ fans will be most happy about.

At the beginning of the last League 2 season Bournemouth were deducted 17 points for entering administration by the authorities. It was a bleak time for the club, who already had a very small squad, made up of seasoned veterans and raw schoolboys with not much inbetween, and it was clear that it’d be a big struggle for a club who have not lost their Football League status in 85 years.

Kevin Bond was the manager at the start of the 08/09 season, but was a man under pressure. Having been assistant to Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth, and then Martin Jol’s first-team coach at Spurs, Bond came with a big reputation, but failed to deliver the goods. On the 1st September 2008, Bond and his management were sacked. Jimmy Quinn, another big Footballing name, was named as his replacement but only lasted until early December. A 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Barnet confirmed his dismissal. It was after this latest event in an episode of awful affairs for the Southerners, that their blessing in disguise appeared.

The sacking of Quinn allowed Eddie Howe to be named as caretaker manager, and despite losing his first two games, Howe was pronounced Bournemouth’s permanent manager until the end of the season, with a view to extending his contract. This made Howe the youngest manager in the Football League, at just 31 years of age. It was the first good decision the Bournemouth board had made in a very long time.

From when Howe was given the permanent job at the Fitness First Stadium, Bournemouth won 8 of their 13 games that season. That record was enough to keep them in the division, a remarkable feit for a club who were very close to completely folding just 12 months earlier.

In the Summer of 2009 a consortium, including former vice-chairman Steve Sly, completed their takeover of AFC Bournemouth. This backing has given them great stability, perhaps not financially but at least as a Football League Club and now, as the new season is well under way, the memories of last year’s trials and tribulations seem very distant indeed.

However, any club who have been through what Bournemouth have been through recently would struggle to rebuild in any quick time, as Bournemouth have found out. Despite securing their status as a League Club, and entering the new campaign with no burden or penalty against their name, no money has been available to purchase players, not since January this year. The situation has got so bad recently, that in their last home League match, amongst the Bournemouth substitutes was assistant manager Jason Tindall, 15-year old Jayden Stockley, and only one other player – Alan Connell. Bournemouth still won the game 1-0, but one has to wonder whether they can keep up such performances with such lack of squad depth. It’s doubtful.

For the time being all people associated with the seaside club will be thrilled to see them top the League 2 table, and to have put all the problems behind them. None more so than my Father, who’s an avid Bournemouth fan, and even I, as a neutral, am delighted to see such a turn around in fortunes for a real community club.

A dozen or so years ago each of my family registered themselves to have a brick engraved, with a word/phrase of our choice. My choice was ‘calcio’ (Italian for ‘Football’), perhaps ironic in the face of such unfootballing matters. Unfortunately I’m yet to re-visit the stadium to see my brick in the flesh. I get the feeling it’d be a great day out, to visit a club so many people hold in high regard, and to see the improvements made in the past decade.

Things are at a high right now, and there’s even talk amongst fans and pundits that in the not-so-distant future Harry Redknapp will attempt a takeover of the club he once played for, and managed in his younger days. Harry still holds residence near Bournemouth, in the seaside town of Poole, and has never fallen out of love with the club he grew up supporting. Such a takeover would rival that of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s at Notts County, but for differing reasons. Pride and joy would be the motivation for Redknapp, whereas money has spurred Sven and the guys in Nottingham to press for Premier League status within 5 years. A shame really. There’s no romance in that.

It’s stories such as these that puts the growing wealth of Football into perspective. A club with no money has managed to survive and rise to the top of it’s division due to a tightly-knit community and bunch of players, passionate support and real drive for success. If only we had more AFC Bournemouth’s in this world.

If any of you get the chance to visit Bournemouth this season, I’d be very grateful if you could report back with your feelings, opinions, and views about the club.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2009 2:18 am

    Great post! All fans of that “underground football” will love it.

    If Redknapp ends up taking charge of Bournemouth, well…it will be a great signing for a team performing in that Division, but remember he’s nothing more but a general manager – I mean they need players, experienced ones, those who know how to deal with League 2, instead of old-famous managers.

    And yeah, I don’t like Harry, I won’t ever see him as a good coach.

  2. Neil permalink
    October 1, 2009 10:27 am

    Another great article George. I notice that Bournemouth had to take an emergency loan from the football league this week. Now that debt in football is taken for granted this shouldn’t be too worrying a development. The fact that the league felt comfortable giving this loan may even be a good sign.

    I must take issue with your remarks relating to Notts County and in particular Sven. Whilst I have little doubt that the financiers of the Notts County takeover are money oriented, the man himself could walked into many a job of a very well paid nature. Notts County are a serious challenge for a football man like Sven and I am sure he is relishing that challenge, probably more than the £££.

  3. Spectre permalink
    October 1, 2009 12:56 pm

    What a great article, George. I enjoyed reading it.

    I have been an avid supporter of AFC Bournemouth on and off for twenty years now. I remember being taken to matches by my father, who would sneak me in as he was a match official. I remember meeting several famous players and managers of the day including Harry Redknapp, and Graham Taylor who at the time managed Aston Villa. I still have a program from a Bournemouth home game against Watford from the 88/89 season, when Harry Redknapp was in charge, Luther Blissett was a player, and the club was going from strength to strength. Looking through the program I can see the names of a number of high profile Premier League clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City who, at the time, were battling it out with Bournemouth for promotion in the old Division Two.

    I do feel its unfair that teams have to suffer point reductions for going into administration. Its a rather cruel punishment to hand down to a team. I bet if one of the big four clubs ended up in the same predicament they wouldn’t get such a harsh reprimand. Bournemouth struggled last season but managed to cling on and survive to the end. This season they are a transformed team, sitting four points clear at the top of League Two. It’s been a pleasure to follow them so far, despite last weekend’s setback at Hereford. I also support Liverpool and have done so ever since childhood. I can safely say that Bournemouth have out performed the Merseyside club and they don’t have half the money of a premiership team!

    And if Mr Redknapp does decide upon returning to the sea-side club, I would more than welcome the move.

    Nathan Baron

  4. maserati4200 permalink
    October 1, 2009 5:43 pm

    I used to watch Bournemouth in the 60s and 70s and witnessed the Ted MacDougall years and the great battles against the likes of Aston Villa and Brighton. I saw MacDougall score his 9 goals against Margate. Ted’s diving header against Villa in front of full-house at Villa Park was truly awesome – it won the Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season.

    I also saw the FA cup games against Liverpool and Burnley (who were then bristling with Internationals). Both games ended in draws and Bournemouth were well beaten in the replays.

    I have an autograph book signed by the European Cup Winners Cup champions, West Ham, who played Bournemouth in a friendly in the mid 60s. World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were amongst those who signed my book, making me a very proud 12 year old!

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