I have to admit that the older I get, the more hazy and faded my memory gets, so I’ll make this report as basic and true as I can remember. It was October 2007 (ignore the date on the photo above – I just thought that photo was a good way to start the report as that’s me in Dan’s flat in Charminster). I had just returned to living in Bournemouth after a random three month jaunt “around the world” (I took in USA, New Zealand, China, Russia and France on the trip, amongst other countries…) Life was back to normal and I was once again a regular at AFC Bournemouth home matches at Dean Court. I was re-united with my good mate Austin and I was living in a massive shared 7 bedroom house in the Ensbury Park area of the town (This area sits in between and flirts with Winton and Wallisdown – both areas I had lived in before).
There was an extra irony being that when I left Bournemouth in June 2006 to move to Shepherd’s Bush in London, I was living on Ensbury Park Road. This time I was not too far away, residing at 29 Beswick Avenue. I can add that to a long list of growing places I have lived down the years.
As well as Austin, and my mate Millwall Neil (who I had met up with in New York – while he was working there in July 2007) there were a few new faces on our Cherry Crew – the AFC Bournemouth regulars. They were, for the meantime at least Dan Darch, Richard Rowland and Patrick Hogan. A hat-trick of Bournemouth residents, all also former Bournemouth University graduates like myself.
My flatmates weren’t into football much. A scarf adorning Jason’s door reading Fulham FC was there more for pride than actual hardcore support, and my flatmate Jason and I rarely watched a match together. The two girls in the house, Steph and Bowyee (ironically from Hong Kong) didn’t dig football one bit. Neither did Am Panesar (a really good lad from London – and a model flatmate) or Tom Parsons (an arrogant surfer type who we didn’t really like – he never did any cleaning and left the place in a mess – a bit of a wanker and a childish guy really). Plus Lewis Clarke – a budding journalist and a Tiverton Town and Manchester United fan. I did drag Lewis along to the football for an interesting video documentary in March 2008, but for now I was the only real football fan in our house, given I was going week in – week out. The photo above ironically shows Jason in his Fulham shirt, Lewis in his Man United shirt and me in my Northern Ireland shirt.
Bournemouth had started the season rather unspectacularly, horrific home defeats to Brighton and Carlisle saw us outclassed and out performed and flirting with relegation from League One (the third division), the same division that Bournemouth hadn’t moved from since my 2003 arrival in the seaside town. So times on the pitch were tough. But times with my mates were better than ever and the football days out were immense.
The Cornish charm of Dan Darch gave me a comrade in that he was also from a lesser praised and often undermined part of the UK (Cornwall), and his flatmates local lads Patrick and Richard were to become close Cherries allies over the course of the season 2007 – 2008. A long season lay ahead…
We hadn’t a hope of survival. We were dire. Main talking point in the pub after each home match would be “can we afford to sack Kevin Bond?” The truth was, at least in my opinion that our manager wasn’t actually that much to blame. We had lost players like James Hayter, Wade Elliott, Brian Stock and Andrew Surman in the previous 18 months and just didn’t have the quality anymore. Although emerging talents were be important during the season. By the end of which we’d be saluting the likes of Maxi Gradel and Sam Vokes. For now though, our best players included World Cup star Darren Anderton (who scored against Colombia in the 1998 World Cup – 9 years later he was still playing away at Dean Court) and Jo Kuffour (who we sang “made Hayter look shite” even if that praise was a bit kind to the little striker from Torquay).
One Saturday afternoon round Dan Darch’s flat we watched football vidiprinter on his TV and as the first half began I said to him “there is no way we will beat Crewe away today!” He seemed more optimistic. I then went on, “in fact I have Tuesday night off work, if we win at Crewe, I will drive us all to Bristol on Tuesday night for the LDV Vans match with Bristol Rovers.” I wasn’t joking. My last away match had been Gillingham in December 2006, it was now October 2007…
As Dan and I sipped cider in his flat, the Cherries bombarded Crewe with goals, 1, 2, 3…before a fourth goal killed the match and we had sealed an epic 4-1 away win. It was all set then…
Dan, Patrick, Austin, Neil and myself were heading to Bristol on Tuesday night. Surely we couldn’t win TWO away games on the trot, having so far failed to even pick up a single victory on home soil. It was a big ask, but another crazy away day lay ahead for us…
For the sake of it, here’s the match report from the BBC on the Crewe 1-4 AFC Bournemouth match:
Crewe: Williams, Woodards, Jones, Roberts (Miller 72), Schumacher, O’Connor (Pope 46), Rix (Bopp 51), McCready, Lowe, Moore, O’Donnell.
Subs Not Used: Cox, Abbey.
Goals: Miller 89.
Bournemouth: Moss, Telfer, Pearce, Gowling, Hollands, Gradel (Cooper 79), Wilson, Anderton, Vokes (Pitman 87), Kuffour, Bradbury.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Gareth O’Connor, Newman.
Goals: Bradbury 37, Gradel 61, 77, Anderton 85.
Att: 4,799Ref: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear).
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