Ulster Cherry: My Story on Becoming An AFC Bournemouth Supporter

“I’m tired of telling the story, tired of telling it your way” – Sharleen Spiteri.

Watching AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court in Boscombe, England

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 making all the noise, we’re Premier League”.

Sheffield Wednesday away in 2004.

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 –

Backpacking Centurion Volume 1 – Don’t Look Back In Bangor

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.

George Best playing for AFC Bournemouth in 1983

George Best playing for AFC Bournemouth in 1983

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.

By the George Best and Colin Clarke photos on the Wall of Fame at AFC Bournemouth, England

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!!

Heathlands Hotel Bar in Bournemouth Dorset 2004

Working Wednesdays: Relaxing with Dennis, one of the “regulars” in the Heathlands Hotel Bar in Bournemouth in 2004

Heathlands Hotel Bournemouth Dorset

From the exterior – Bournemouth’s Heathlands Hotel in East Cliff.

Jonny Blair at Heathlands Hotel Bournemouth England

Working Wednesdays: I was once the barman in the 3 star Heathlands Hotel in East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

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…

AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Sunderland (first ever home Premier League win)

AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Sunderland (first ever home Premier League win)

Back with the lads in Bournemouth.

At Bournemouth University

Up the Cherries! Watching Bournemouth at West Ham, London

Up the Cherries! Watching Bournemouth at West Ham, London

Graduation from Bournemouth University (2008)

Graduation from Bournemouth University (2008)

My red AFC Bournemouth tribute for George Best’s funeral in 2005

Trophy Cabinet, Bournemouth, Dorset, England

Another AFC Bournemouth away day with the lads – Richard and Dan on route to Hereford away, 2009

Local celebrity spotting with Eddie Howe, manager of AFC Bournemouth.

Local celebrity spotting with Eddie Howe, manager of AFC Bournemouth.

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.

Global Cherries: From Bangor to Bournemouth to Boruc Land

Ulster Cherry: My Story on Becoming An AFC Bournemouth Supporter

Ulster Cherry: My Story on Becoming An AFC Bournemouth Supporter

 

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