“I’m tired of telling the story, tired of telling it your way” – Sharleen Spiteri.
Down the years I have covered my journey to becoming an AFC Bournemouth supporter more times than I ever imagined. I never realised that people would have to justify which football team they support. In countries I backpacked, wearing a Cherries shirt often raised such ridiculous questions. Curiosity chilled the chat…
“It’s the Bournemouth boys (girls) making all the noise, we’re Premier League”.
But then again, I once met a “Manchester United” supporter in China who had never bought a Manchester United shirt, never been to Manchester, never been to see Manchester United play and had never heard of Duncan Edwards, Norman Whiteside or George Best. I Brian Kidd you not!! If you want to read my chaprer known as Ulster Cherry, it is in Volume 1 of my Backpacking Centurion series, available here –
Aside from telling the story too many times, here are just four of the main reasons why I support AFC Bournemouth –
1.AFC Bournemouth was George Best’s last English club
George Best is my hero. I went to his funeral and I’ve been to his house, as well as the fact that he grew up round the corner from my Granny in the Cregagh Estate in Belfast. He played for my three teams – Glentoran, Bournemouth and Northern Ireland. His last English league club (and in fact his only English League club in my lifetime) was AFC Bournemouth. It had to be my club. George Best appears on the Wall of Fame at Boscombe’s Dean Court.
2.Colin Clarke scored Northern Ireland’s last World Cup goal as a Cherry
One of my first football memories was watching Northern Ireland v. Spain in the 1986 World Cup. Our goal that day was a header scored by Colin Clarke and was memorable to me. As things stand in 2020, it is still Northern Ireland’s last World Cup goal. At the time, Colin Clarke was plying his trade for AFC Bournemouth. In fact from the 1986 World Cup onward, there would always be at least 1 AFC Bournemouth player (past or present) at every World Cup. Glentoran didn’t always get that. Colin Clarke also appears on the Wall of Fame at Boscombe’s Dean Court.
1986 – Colin Clarke, Jimmy Quinn
1990 – Gerry Peyton
1994 – Efan Ekoku
1998 – Darren Anderton, Rio Ferdinand
2002 – Matt Holland, Ian Harte, Rio Ferdinand, David James
2006 – Artur Boruc, Ian Cox, Rio Ferdinand, David James
2010 – Adam Federici, David James, Jermaine Defoe
2014 – Maxi Gradel, Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana
2018 – Jefferson Lerma, Nathaniel Clyne
3.I visited Bournemouth in 1994 on a family trip, and that was it
It must have been love at first sight when I first visited Bournemouth in 1994. I had just finished watching a World Cup that Northern Ireland weren’t in. I was becoming disillusioned with the money element in the local game. Around the same time, three Northern Irish players were at AFC Bournemouth – Neil Masters, Keith Rowland and Here’s to you, Stevie Robinson. An even freakier coincidence might be that in 1994, we stayed at the Heathlands Hotel on Gervis Road in East Cliff. 10 years later, I was the barman there! I worked there!!
4.I have spent more of my adult life in Bournemouth than any other place in the world!
And of course, I spent 6 years living in Bournemouth and many more visits since I lfet there in 2009! It felt like home and I still love my trips back there…
To read more about my Bournemouth story, I shared it in the following places
1.In Chapter 31 of “Don’t Look Back In Bangor” in 2020.
2.In The 8.44 To Waterloo Fanzine in 2004.
3.On the AFC Bournemouth Website in 2020.
You can view my journey on the AFC Bournemouth website here.