Rough guide to
About this rough guide
How our predictions went
Rough guide to...Bournemouth
11 July 2003
Relationship with Division Two
Bournemouth thrashed Lincoln in the play-off final last season to get back to Division Two, which is probably their rightful home. "Too good for Division Three and not quite good enough for Division One...yet," is how one fan sees the team.
You might think that promotion to Division One as champions under Harry Redknapp would figure highly. Or even the trip to Wembley for the Auto Windscreens final against Town. But many Bournemouth fans will cite their 'Great Escape' season of 1994-95: no manager for the first five or six games; eight games to get a single point; a mere ten points by Christmas...things looked bleak. Somehow they managed to turn things around - the penultimate game of the season saw the team win away at promotion-chasing Brentford, and the following week they scored three times against Shrewsbury in the first 20 minutes. The Cherries leapfrogged Cambridge and stayed up by two points. It all sounds very Grimsby, doesn't it.
Despite my claims to the contrary later in this guide, Bournemouth fans do have a drop or two of venom for other clubs - mainly local ones. Two fingers are frequently jabbed in the direction of Brighton and Portsmouth; and "We hate Reading, we hate Reading" can frequently be heard echoing around Dean Court. That's Reading FC, by the way; it's not some anti-literacy campaign the AFCB fans have got going.
A lot of the team were born in the 1980s (Christ, how old does that make me feel), with the average age of last season's squad standing at less than 24. And you thought Bournemouth was full of pensioners, didn't you. Youth doesn't necessarily mean inexperience, however: midfielder Carl Fletcher - who incidentally made his debut at Blundell Park in 1998 while still a YT - is only 23, but has already shown enough maturity to become captain of the side. Another player with a similar old head/young shoulders combo is the highly rated midfielder Brian Stock; watch out too for 21-year-old striker Alan Connell.
The form of striker Chukki Eribenne has dipped now and again, but he consistently has the best name in the club by a mile. And Wade Elliot is worth a mention, if only for the fact that the Bewley Brothers have written a song about him. And not many second division players can boast that. Although there is The Macca-rena, I suppose. I'll get my coat.
Recent Town loanee Richard Hughes played over 150 games for the Cherries before moving to Portsmouth. Jamie Redknapp was a trainee at Dean Court before signing for Liverpool - and dad Harry was the manager when Bournemouth famously knocked Man Utd out of the FA Cup in '83-84. Matt Holland is a fondly-remembered Cherry too.
Thousands of Grimsby fans have a special place in the heart for AFC Bournemouth due to the lovely fluffy atmosphere of the Auto Windscreens final. Anyone who still thinks that English football is synonymous with mindless thuggery wasn't at Wembley in 1998. AFCB fans stayed behind to applaud the winning Grimsby team rather than flood out en masse. Not to mention the good-natured chat in the pubs, both before and after the match. What a lovely lot they are.
Maybe this good nature has something to do with the supporters' perspective on life - like someone who has a near-death experience and whose outlook becomes more mature: in 1996-97, Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic found themselves £3 million in debt, and infested with receivers. The club was a mere 15 minutes from ceasing to exist when it was announced that the supporters' trust fund had raised enough to take it over. Thus, AFC Bournemouth became the first 'community club' in Europe - and if that doesn't warm your heart, there's something wrong with your cockles. Manager Sean O'Driscoll took over from Mel Machin in 1999 and, despite a very shaky start, seems to have got the hang of things quite nicely now.
The ground itself is a bit of an oddity, currently having stands on three sides, and a nice view of trees on the other. But fear not - the search for funding will continue until such a time as a fourth stand can be built. Until then, the ballboys are going to do a lot of running around.
Finally, I have to mention that John Bailey's goal celebration at Wembley still amuses me. Though I didn't find it funny at the time, I have it on video, and it is without doubt the gayest little dance I have ever witnessed on or off a football pitch. Thank you, John.
The club started as Boscombe St John's, a team made up of voluntary first-aiders. Presumably their matches had footballers standing by with stretchers in case of injury.
In a strange parallel with Wrexham, Bournemouth's extant record attendance came in the same year against the same team: 28,799 packed into Dean Court for the 1956-57 FA Cup clash with Manchester United.
In 1971, during the club's record 11-0 FA Cup victory over non-league Margate, forward Ted McDougall scored 9 - yes, nine - of the goals himself.
Former Crackerjack (Cracckkkerrjjaacckkk!) presenter Stu "Ooh, I could crush a grape" Francis is a celebrity Bournemouth fan, as is feisty Geordie bird Jayne Middlemiss. Also listed is pop promoter Mel Bush, apparently the man behind David Essex and Vanessa Mae among others.
How will they do?
"Top ten finish" is the short and confident reply of one fan. Having looked through what looks like a promising young squad, who am I to argue. In fact I'll say sixth.
Boscombe on the Web deserves special mention for fierce independence - as its tagline says, it has "not sold its soul to the corporate devil". We're with you, brother. The misleadingly-titled The Southend is another independent site - nicely put together, and some great pages, though there does seem to be some content missing here and there.
AFCBNV is great...if you can read Norwegian. And Bas Soccer Site is by a guy from the Netherlands. How very cosmopolitan! Finally, there's a comedy page on the Rivals site as well. Told you they were a happy lot.