Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Sunday, February 5, 2012

AFC Bournemouth


AFC Bournemouth are a football club who represent the seaside resort of the same name on the south coast of England, while being actually based in the adjoining town of Boscombe. The club were originally called Boscome FC. 

Although there are no exact dates regarding the clubs formation, it is believed that a club called Boscombe St. John's Lads’ Institute FC who were formed in 1890 became the basis of Boscombe FC when formed in 1899. The team started out playing at Castlemain Road in Pokesdown for the first couple of seasons before moving to a pitch in King's Park.



In 1910 the club President, Mr. J.E. Cooper-Dean gave the club some wasteland next to King's Park so they could build their own home. In return the club called it Dean Court. There were several cherry orchards in the adjoining fields, and it's from that the club nicknamed of 'The Cherries' is thought to have come.

After a decade at their new home, Boscombe progressed to the Southern League from the Hampshire League. In an attempt to become more representative of the area they changed their name to Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic FC in 1923, the same year that they became members of the Football League. The following year the Main Stand was brought from the Empire Exhibition at Wembley and erected at Dean Court.

The club played in Division Three South and then the newly formed Third Division continually for tens of years. They were eventually relegated in 1970 but won immediate promotion with John Bond having a spell as manager of an attractive team including Ted MacDougall, who scored nine goals in an 11-0 FA Cup win against Margate. The team adopted the colours of red and black rather than red and white in an attempt to emulate AC Milan's stylish look. The following year the club changed its name to AFC Bournemouth.











The Cherries were relegated once more in 1975 and it took them seven years to regain their place in the third tier of the League. The following year, AFC Bournemouth's former winger Harry Redknapp took over as team manager and gradually brought success to Dean Court. In 1984 Manchester United were dumped out of the FA Cup and two years later promotion was won with a championship to the second tier for the first time in the clubs history.

On Saturday 5th May 2000, part of a Bank Holiday weekend, Leeds United visited town for a vital game for both clubs. Leeds won with a single goal to win promotion to the top flight, while the defeat relegated AFC Bournemouth. Redknapp resigned to move to West Ham United but the effects on the club were far worse. The visiting fans caused over £1M pounds in damage around the town over the weekend and generally petrified the locals. The incidents were even discussed in parliament, such was the extent. The damage was felt for the next thirteen years by the club as the local police refused any home matches to be played on Bank Holidays, which were generally a great money spinner.

Mel Machin spent several years as manager before Sean O'Driscoll took over at the turn of the millennium. The club moved out of the ageing Dean Court, which had suffered after the Bradford and Hillsborough disasters more than most to play matches at The Avenue Stadium, home of neighbours Dorchester Town. While they were away the ground was demolished with the pitch turned ninety degrees to create more space.

On their return to traditional territory, AFC Bournemouth were relegated. The board kept faith in their boss, probably owing to the clubs precarious financial situation, and were rewarded with promotion in 2003 when The Cherries beat Lincoln City 5-2 in the Millennium Stadium Play Off Final.














Over the next few seasons the team did alright  while off the pitch the ownership of the club changed hands when a consortium headed by Jeff Mostyn took over. O'Driscoll and his assistant Richard O'Kelly left the club to join Doncaster Rovers. Kevin Bond took over but was forced to offload lots of players including star striker James Hayter to Doncaster to try and balance the books. Loan signings and free transfers came in including Lee Bradbury.


On 7th February 2008, AFC Bournemouth were forced into administration, suffering a 10-point deduction which put them in relegation trouble. AFC Bournemouth had debts of around £4 million and almost went out of business completely. Bond and his players did their best under extreme circumstances. The only bid for the club came in from Mostyn, but the administrators Begbies Traynor but it was deemed illegal. They warned that the club could close at the end of that season unless funding was forthcoming. The team were relegated on the final day of the season. Paul Baker became the new owner of the club.

The Football League required assurances that the club could fulfil its fixtures before it allowed them to take their place for the 2008-09 season. They gave permission but gave AFC Bournemouth to start the season, but they began with a seventeen point deduction owing to financial irregularities.

By New Year 2009 Bond had left and Jimmy Quinn his replacement had been sacked. Eddie Howe was appointed as the new manager after being elevated from his role as head of the club's Centre of Excellence. He became the League's youngest manager at the age of thirty one. A local businessman Adam Murry tried to buy 50% of the club but struggled to pay for it from Baker. Meanwhile Howe and his charges performed a near miracle by retaining their League place with a agme to spare.














In June 2009 a new consortium took over AFC Bournemouth. It included Murry, Mostyn and outspoken Dorchester Town Chairman Eddie Mitchell who eventually sold Town to become The Cherries Chairman. In Howe's first season in charge the team finished second and won promotion to League One. His abilities were admired by many in the game, so it was no surprise when he left to join Burnley the following season.

Lee Bradbury took over the reigns and like Howe he lost players for transfer fees, which upset the club's loyal fans who were tired of the continual financial saga at the club. Mitchell lost his composure at a home game against Chesterfield, while allegedly imbibed, as fans voiced their criticisms.

To watch go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgAYVjUlvKM

However, Russian investors became involved at the club, which steadied the finances but led to a further embarrassment after the wife of one of them was invited into the changing rooms at half time to deliver the team talk. Bradbury struggled before been replaced by Paul Groves in March 2012. Meanwhile Eddie Howe was said to be homesick while in his role at Burnley, so in a hugely popular move he returned to the Goldsands Stadium, as Dean Court had been rebranded, as manager in October 2012.

The appointment paid dividends as Howe's side won automatic promotion to the League's second tier with a fourth stand being erected to complete the Dean Court stadium. 

Bournemouth's first season back in the second tier was one full of encouragement that ended in a mid table finish, before Howe carefully strengthened the squad in the summer of 2014.

The moves paid off as Howe's side swept all before them. A 3-0 win at Charlton Athletic on the final day of the 2014-15 season saw AFC Bournemouth crowned as Championship title winners and seal a first ever promotion to the top flight.

More signings such as Tyrone Mings, Glenn Murray, Sylvain Distin and Max Gradel came in for the new season to augment the talent of the likes of Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson.

AFC Bournemouth will play in the FA Premier League in the 2015-16 season.


My visits

AFC Bournemouth 2 Hull City 3 (Saturday 5th November 1983) League Division Three

I was at college in Borehamwood just to the north of London and an avid Hull City fan as well as getting to as many Scarborough matches as I could. A trip to Bournemouth wasn't something I was going to turn down, especially with The Tigers going well at the time.


I caught the train from Waterloo and got talking to some fellow City fans. We arrived quite early and took the pleasant long walk to the ground. It was the first time I'd ever heard of fixed odds coupons as some of the lads with me went to put theirs on. I wish I'd never found out! It was a bright clear day, if a little chilly, but Bournemouth seemed quite a nice place to me.


Dean Court was a traditional ground. I'd first seen it on Match of the Day as a youngster during the John Bond years and it seemed good to me. That said, Layer Road at Colchester didn't look bad on TV! We were stood on an open terrace called The Brighton Beach End as it once consisted of pebbles. At the other end there was a large terracing with a roof over the back. To the right was a long low covered terrace and to the left the old all seated Main Stand.



City really flew out of the traps and went three nil up after half an hour, which included a long range beauty from left back Mick Hollifield. Bournemouth got one back before the break. At half time the old England mascot Ken Bailey walked round the pitch in his full regalia. He apparently lived locally. On TV he always looked impecably dressed, but close up he was a bit of a mess if truth be told.

Ken Bailey
The home side grabbed another in the second half and we went through a few anxious moments before full time. I went straight back to the station alone and was soon on a train back. A friendly home fan got on at Pokesdown station and we had a good chat. It was nice in those days to be able to meet a friendly fan or two on your travels. Plenty weren't. He was very honest saying that City deserved to win, while he bemoaned the standard of his British Rail pork pie.

I got back to Waterloo and made my way back to the suburbs, very happy with my day out.

AFC Bournemouth 3 Crawley Town 0 (Saturday 29th December 2012) Football League One (Att: 7,885)




I travelled to this game against Crawley Town, with AFCB embarking on a long unbeaten run and hovering around the play offs, as were Crawley since the return of Eddie Howe. I expected a good match as I jumped aboard the train at Waterloo for the two hour ride to Pokesdown station.




I had a nice chat with two rail staff who saw my Scarborough Athletic shirt and initially thought that I was a Crawley fan. One had played against Boro for Wealdstone in the past and the other had finished work early and after giving his ticket away, was now chomping at the bit. As advised I walked up to the stadium through the pleasant King's Park as soon as I arrived as the previous game had sold out to home fans. Indeed the queues were long, but I got a ticket for £22 in the wings of the Main Stand.




How Dean Court had changed since my previous call. It now had three bog standard cantilevered seated stands, which had not been designed for anyone over five foot eight. The fourth stand was promised if the team won promotion. I had to laugh on the concourse as the catering team achieved what I reckoned impossible and made the set up at Oxford look competent. They had run out of all hot food and Bovril by 2.40! As ‘Arry might have said, “They were down to bare bones”. At least they'd have offered something to suck on!




















Not to worry. I played contortionist and tried to reach my coffee from the floor in my seat as the young bored kid next to me seemed intent on replicating Billy Whitehurst for two hours, in kicking and elbowing me at will as his Dad did his best not to really give him it in public. On several occasions I had to count to ten, while behind a group of foreign visitors jabbered away mentioning scores from other games.


I wanted The Cherries to win as I wasn’t too fond of Crawley. Maybe it was time to give them some slack now that the detestable Steve Evans had moved on? I mused that was it any coincidence that Crawley and Stevenage are both horrible new towns and had Evans and the equally horrible Graham Westley as bosses? I’m not sure what happened at MK Dons as Karl Robinson seemed a decent sort, although chairman Winkleman more than made up for him I guess?


















I was immediately impressed with AFCB. Their passing was easy on the eye as they looked to open up the visitor’s rearguard. They were almost Boroesque! However, their opening goal came when a fierce cross was headed into his own net with some aplomb by Gary Alexander. Crawley got back into the game, but they weren't troubling David James in the home net. Five minutes before the interval, loanee striker Brett Pitman made it two with a free kick that skidded along the damp turf into the bottom corner.


I was relieved to be able to stand up and stretch at half time as some feeling returned to my legs. The second half followed the same course as Crawley tried to make some changes to break through, but the AFCB defence were in defiant mood. It was nice to hear both sets of fans applaud former players of their own clubs when they appeared, rather than the mindless bile which was all too often spouted at many other venues. Indeed the away fans, of who there were 380 in attendance, did their best to raise their heroes throughout.


















The scoring was completed with six minutes remaining by Eunan O’Kane, who controlled a through ball and slotted home neatly. I thought it gave the scoreline a rather lopsided look, although it was easy to see how The Cherries were on such a great run. Their defence looked watertight and they took their opportunities going forward after giving their opponents plenty to think about.


I headed away and caught the 5.26 back to London. I eventually managed some shut eye, despite the continual noise from several groups of females along the way who seemed oblivious to the copious signage around the carriage which read “Quiet coach”. You can’t have everything I suppose, and I couldn't really grumble. I’d seen a good quality game, alleviated any doubts as to whether I’d visited the current ground and hadn't wasted the time off between my night shifts. I’d also managed to buy a ticket for Swansea v Arsenal in the FA Cup the following Sunday over the phone.

Yep, it had been a really good day once again!






The older photos of the original Dean Court have been taken from the internet as I did not take my camera on my first visit









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