The History of A.F.C Bournemouth
Bournemouth and the surrounding areas may be mostly known as a destination for surfing and other water-based sports, but in recent years their football team has been going strong in the UK’s topflight Premier League too. Playing out of the 11,000 capacity Dean Court, Athletic Football Club Bournemouth (to give their full name) have now spent the last five years in England’s top league. That comes after nearly 100 years of mostly mediocrity, spent bouncing between the football league’s second and third tiers – although The Cherries, as they are known, are not without their legendary moments and storied players either.
AFC Bournemouth began life in the 1890s as Boscombe St. John Football Club. That’s because the club was actually based in Boscombe and not Bournemouth proper, a situation that continues to this day. In fact, for nearly 50 years, from when they first joined the football league in 1923 until 1972, the club was known Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic Football Club. Their home ground was named after an early investor in the club, Mr. J.E Cooper Dean, who also owned a local country house with a cherry orchard on its grounds. This is supposedly how they got their famous nickname.
The club became professional in 1972, when they adopted their now iconic red and black strip – apparently based on that of world-renowned AC Milan. They yoyoed between divisions for a few years, before financial troubles in the 90s (including being a month away from complete closure) and the early 2000s saw the team plummet into the bottom tier of the league – The Conference. However, these seasons were not without some charm. In the 2003-04 season, Bournemouth forward James Hayter scored the fastest football league hattrick of all time, netting three goals in just two minutes and 21.8 seconds after coming on as a late substitute against already 3-0 down Wrexham.
From Farce to Footballing Fantasy
Things looked bleak for Bournemouth going into the 2008/09 season, with the club four million pounds in debt and on the verge of dropping out of the professional football league system. When young manager Eddie Howe took over in January, the Cherries were 10 points into the relegation zone. Eddie was a popular man around the club, and a fresh face in the post, but expectations were understandably low.
However, The Cherries were about to embark on the start of one of the most remarkable runs in English footballing history. In Howe’s first season in charge, they finished second and were promoted to league two. He left for one season, in which former player Lee Bradbury guided the club to the playoff final where they beat Huddersfield on penalties to get back to League 1. Howe took over again the year after, winning them promotion to English football’s second division – The Championship – in 2013. In 2014, they finished a respectable 10th, and the following season they won it all, clinching the league title with a 3-0 win over Charlton Athletic on the last day of the season.
This would see AFC Bournemouth into the topflight for the first time ever, where they remain (still under the management of Eddie Howe) to this day.