AFC Bournemouth – Everything You Need To Know About The Cherries

AFC Bournemouth info

AFC Bournemouth are a small football team based in Bournemouth, Dorset, on the South Coast of England. There aren’t too many other local teams in the area, but Bournemouth’s nearest rivals are Poole Town (who play non-league football so aren’t really considered great rivals), leaving Southampton and Portsmouth. These of course are 2 teams who have had big success recently, and both’s fortunes have swapped places in the past year or so. Portsmouth went from FA Cup success and being a stable Premier League team to financial problems and relegation, and now find themselves in League One. Southampton meanwhile were in League One two seasons ago, but made it into the Championship then won promotion with then manager Nigel Atkins.

Bournemouth Hooligans and Rivals

AFC Bournemouth fans wouldn’t welcome the mention of arch rivals Southampton in this piece, who are known to them as “scummers”. Bournemouth and Portsmouth don’t have a massive rivalry, and both share a common hatred towards Southampton.
Bournemouth also have a massive dislike of Leeds United, in particularly due to Leeds fans behaviour in the 90’s when they came to Bournemouth and ripped the town up, for no reason in particular. Bournemouth fans have understandably not really forgiven the Leeds fans for their behaviour on this occasion, and thankfully the two teams don’t get the chance to rub shoulders very often. Leeds came into the game needing a win and for results to go their way to win promotion, whilst the result led to Bournemouth being relegated. Leeds fans caused trouble before the game, and also after it, and the trouble led to Bournemouth being prevented the chance to stage home games on Bank Holidays for over 10 years. This had big financial implications on the side.

A news report from Youtube featuring some of the Leeds vs Bournemouth riots back in the 90’s.

Football fan reputations are hard to shake, and so it seems that Leeds joins the list of clubs hated by Bournemouth, probably quite a common feature throughout the football league.

Brief History

Bournemouth used to be known as Boscombe (a nearby town which is currently very run down, but is where Dean Court, the football stadium, is located). A chant which makes use of the clubs previous name is of course “Back of the net, Boscombe!”, a popular chant on the terraces at Dean Court, despite the name change.
To this day they are official registered as Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic Football Club, but the name was shortened to AFC Bournemouth (Athletic football club Bournemouth) back in the early 70’s.

The football badge, featuring a player heading the ball with a striped background, is in honour of former player Dickie Dowsett. He was a legend of the club who played in the 50’s and 60’s. The black and red striped kit was based upon AC Milan’s own kit, but unfortunately they’ve not quite matched the Italian sides success.

The club is owned now by controversial chairman Eddie Mitchell, a very successful property developer who owns the development firm Seven, based in Sandbanks, Poole. Sandbanks is considered to be the 4th most expensive place to live in the world (its about 30 minutes away from Bournemouth by car) and is a very small area built around a sandbank, as the name suggests. Properties here cost in the excess of £10 million depending on the location, and size, and feature celebrities such as Harry Redknapp – who has very strong connections to the club.

Harry Redknapp and AFC Bournemouth

Redknapp managed AFC Bournemouth in the 80’s, taking the club into the 2nd tier of the league for the first time in the history of the club. They had a famous win over Man United in the FA cup in 1984 when Ron Atkinson was in charge of the Red Devils. Redknapp subsequently moved on to manage West Ham, who also have a strong connection with the club.

Whilst at West Ham the manager would seemingly do the Cherries (as AFCB are affectionately known) huge favours, such as playing in pre-season friendlies to help raise funds for the often cash-strapped side, and also by loaning star young players in a bid to build their experience whilst improving the quality of the side. One such star performer was Jermaine Defoe, who came to the club in the 2000/2001 season, scoring 18 in 29 appearances and breaking all kinds of goalscoring records for the club.
Other notable players to play for the club include Rio Ferdinand (again on-loan from West Ham) and George Best, who played in the twilight years of his career, making just 5 appearances in 1983.

Legends of AFC Bournemouth

You can’t talk about legends of the club without of course mentioning the honourable Steve Fletcher. A tallisman for the club for the past 2 decades, Fletcher is a towering figure, a real powerhouse of a footballer. He retired at the end of the 2013 season but is likely to continue working within the club in some kind of capacity.
At 6 foot 2 and having made over 600 appearances for the club (scoring about 103 times – roughly a goal every 6 games) made “super fletch” a bit of a superstar on the south coast.

Fletcher Bournemouth legend

Financial Difficulties and Administration

February 2008 was a difficult period for the Cherries as they were placed in administration, which of course is accompanied by a 10 point deduction (which to me is like kicking a man whilst he’s down, and I don’t entirely understand). With debts of over £4 million, the club were close to being shut down. Relegation followed this season, with the club falling down to League Two. The following season the league tried to shut thhe club down, and asked them to prove they could commit to the fixtures throughout the season. The club was given a 17 point penalty for not following insolvency rules.

In 2008 the club was bought by a local businessman Adam Murry and then in 2009 a consortium which featured Jeff Mostyn, Steve Sly and Neill Blake as well as former Dorchester Town chairman Eddie Mitchell.

The club is now owned by Eddie Mitchell and the mysterious Russian investor and businessman Maxim Demin. Demin’s funds have helped the side to become a real spending force, massively outspending the majority of teams in League One during the 2012/2013 season. Many top players were bought in to the side, and this has ultimately led to their promotion to the Championship. Former England goalkeeper David James was signed at the peak of the spending, but has now moved on to other pastures.

The future of AFC Bournemouth

It remains to be seen exactly what is in store for the football club under the guidance of the Max Denim and Eddie Mitchell partnership. Mitchell has had a famously shaky relationship with fans, at one point he insisted that if the fans of the club aren’t happy with the way he’s running the club then “they should go and support Southampton”. This went down like a led balloon, and it appears that the man in charge has about as much charm as a venomous snake.

Some view the club to be currently punching about their own weight, without the necessary fan base to backup the massive spending and attempted assault on the Championship. All of the big money signings and big wages being invested into the players could be seen as a very exciting time for the club, but you have to wonder about the long term future of the club if there’s nothing more to back this spending up. For example, what would happen if the unknown Russian Denim was to pull his money out of the club if the side failed in the Championship? What if owner Mitchell decided he wanted to sell up – who’d really want to invest in a club which struggles to get more than 6,000 fans on a weekly basis. The club doesn’t yet own the stadium it operates from, and doesn’t seem to have a great following despite the catchment area that it falls within. The club really is tiny, and has managed okay as a League One side in the past few years – rarely threatening in the play offs, more frequently flirting with relegation to League Two.

One things for sure, and that is AFC Bournemouth have got a very interesting future ahead of them. Whether they take to the Championship well or not, with the amount of money that has been invested in the past year, and with the wage bill currently present, it remains to be seen what kind of reaction will take place if the club aren’t able to avoid relegation from the division come the end of the 2013/2014 season.

By Matt

Matt is the owner and chief-editor of the Footy Blog, one of the UK's leading football news blogs.