The Bournemouth identity: Three unsung heroes who helped create it


Bournemouth’s rise through the leagues is nothing but a well-documented fairy-tale.

Every news website, every podcast, every radio station, and every sports broadcast has nothing but lauded the job of Eddie Howe and his staff for the miraculous turnaround in fortunes at Dean Court.

We all know the tale. We all know the story. But only few know the men really behind Bournemouth survival, revival and evolution.

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19th January 2009. Eddie Howe, aged 31, took over from ex-player Jimmy Quinn on a permanent basis with Bournemouth ten points adrift at the bottom of the ‘Coca-Cola League 2’. Just days before, local businessman Adam Murry purchased 50% shares at the club but missed the deadline to purchase the majority share.

Murry (right) is one of three unsung heroes in this feature, who’s investment and consortium changed the fortunes of A.F.C. Bournemouth’s future. In the penultimate match of the 08/09 season, Steve Fletcher scored the goal in a 2-1 victory over Grimsby which achieved mission impossible. A 4-0 win over Morecambe a week later ensured they passed with flying colours.

He completed the takeover in 2009 and immediately the Cherries secured promotion to League One. Although Howe would leave for Burnley the following season, they would continue on an upward trajectory into the playoffs under another former player Lee Bradbury. They finished in the playoff places only to lose out, and finish 11th the following season.

Guess who’s back? Back again? Real slim Eddie (Howe) returned in 2012 after a less than inspiring attempt to play tiki-taka at Turf Moor and immediately re-settled, guiding the Cherries away from their early season relegation battle to gain promotion to the second tier.

During the 2012 January window they signed a player who never, in my humble opinion, receives the recognition of his credibility that he truly merits. Steve Cook arrived from Brighton and Hove Albion for £150,000. A solid defender in his time with the Seagulls, he made only 3 league appearances for them after five loan spells (including one with the Cherries).

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He made 20 appearances that season but the reason I believe he is left under credited is simply because of the players around him. Simon Francis, club captain. Marc Pugh, exciting winger in his day who has left the club a legend.

But Cook, absolutely pivotal in their two promotion campaigns and a regular fixture to this day, is simply not mentioned enough. He has to be in the reckoning for an England call-up if his ball playing and defensive skills continue to pirouette on the Premier League dancefloor for years to come.

2013/14 was a breakthrough season for Howe and his staff. After a tough start to life at this level, the goals from Lewis Grabban and superb creation from Matt Ritchie fired them to tenth position in the Championship, a club record.

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They say a picture says a thousand words. Well this one says one. ‘Champions’.

Bournemouth’s 2014/15 campaign saw them promoted in style, flare and glamour, scoring 98 league goals including eight at St Andrews against Birmingham City.

Vast amounts of goals came from four key players. Callum Wilson, now an England international (23), French target man Yann Kermorgant (17), Ritchie (15), and one club legend in Brett Pitman with 14.

The third and final unsung hero in this list, Pitman was a Cherries academy graduate having arrived from Jersey aged 16. He made 197 appearances in five years, scoring 62 goals and helping the club to avoid relegation and climb into the third tier.

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Pitman then moved to Bristol City in a rumoured £1m deal in 2010, before returning to the Cherries to resign and score 19 goals in their promotion campaign in 12/13. Two years later it was the next level and he banged in 14. He would never play in the Premier League for Bournemouth, and that is why he isn’t recognised by those not in the Bournemouth camp. He now plies his trade with Portsmouth.

So the story is somewhat complete. Bournemouth’s ‘Great Escape’ turned itself into Bournemouth’s great rise. They had reached the Premier League from nothing and broken club records along the way.

2015/16 provided a good foundation for them as they finished 16th, and 16/17, after the big money arrival of Jordon Ibe and the terrific form of Josh King, saw the Cherries finish an incredible ninth. Second season syndrome? I think not!

2017/18 and 2018/19 provided jitters but yet again Howe’s consistent philosophy made for good reading at the end of the season. Bournemouth are becoming the perfect Premier League model.

A.F.C Bournemouth. Revolution. Evolution. Always finding the perfect solution.


About Author

Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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