Friday 11 February 2022

AFC Bournemouth - Fitness First Stadium

AFC Bournemouth
Fitness First Stadium
Dean Court
Kings Park

01202 726300
Official Website

Ground Number: 65
Saturday 16th February 2002
AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2


1:  The club was formed in the autumn of 1899 out of the remains of the older Boscombe St. John's Institute Football Club. Originally known as Boscombe, they changed their name to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic upon joining the Football League in 1923 and then to AFC Bournemouth in 1971. 

2:  Following a spell in the Southern League, the club was elected to the Football League in 1923 as part of the new Third Division South. They've remained in the league ever since and have played in all four tiers of the league. They had a couple of second-bottom finishes in the Third Division South but would go on to be good enough for the Third Division when regionalisation was scrapped in 1958. They'd suffer their first-ever relegation in 1970 when they went down to Division 4. Their worst ever finish in 2009 in the fourth tier was down to a points deduction but the club recovered well. They posted their best-ever finish of 9th in the Premiership in 2017 but have since been relegated to the Championship.

3:  In the FA Cup, the club has reached the Quarter Final twice. In 1957, they lost 2-1 at home to Manchester United and then in 2021 they lost 3-0 at home to Southampton. They exacted revenge on Manchester United with a famous giant-killing in 1984 as they won 2-0 in a 3rd Round tie. They've been on the receiving end too - losing to the then Non-League Wycombe Wanderers in 1974, Accrington Stanley in 2003, Tamworth in 2005 and Blyth Spartans in 2009.

4:  In the League Cup, AFC Bournemouth reached the Quarter Final in 2015, losing 3-1 at home to Liverpool. They won the Football League Trophy in 1984, beating Hull City 2-1 but would lose the final by the same scoreline to Grimsby Town in 1998. 

5:  At first, their home ground was in Pokesdown at Castlemain Avenue before they moved to Kings Park. In 1910, a ground called Dean Court was established adjacent to it. It was named after the benefactor, local businessman JE Cooper-Dean, who made it possible. At first, they developed a 300 seater stand, gradually adding to it over time. Various fixtures and fittings were added over the years and the records attendance of 28,799 came for a 1957 game against Manchester United. In 2001, the ground was completely rebuilt, with AFC Bournemouth sharing at Dorchester Town for a while. For a while, it was a three-sided stadium with a capacity of 9,600. A couple of temporary stands filled the vacant end. IN 2013 something more permanent was added but the capacity of 11,364 is still the smallest in the Premier League.

6:  On 24 February 2004 Bournemouth's James Hayter scored the Football League's fastest-ever hat-trick at Dean Court, scoring three goals in 2 minutes and 20 seconds during a 6–0 victory over Wrexham. Astonishingly, he had only come on as an 84th-minute substitute.

7:  Steve Fletcher holds the record number of appearances for the club with a huge 726 over two spells. He is also third in the all-time scorer chart with 122. The top scorer is  Ron Eyre with 229 goals in 378 appearances between 1924 & 1933. The record purchase is midfielder Jefferson Lerma who cost £25m in August 2018. Their record sale is Nathan Ake who was sold to Manchester City for £41m in August 2020.

8:  In February 2008, Bournemouth were forced into administration, suffering a ten-point deduction which put them in relegation trouble. Bournemouth had debts of around £4 million and almost went out of business completely.[16] The off-field uncertainty continued throughout the season, with only one, ultimately unsuccessful, bid for the club accepted, and the club ended the season being relegated to League Two.

Ahead of the 2008–09 season, the team's future in the Football League was put into doubt when the league threatened to block Bournemouth's participation in League Two, due to problems with the club's continuing administration and change in ownership. The league ordered both Bournemouth and Rotherham United to demonstrate that they could fulfil all of their fixtures and find a way out of administration, eventually allowing the club to compete with a 17-point penalty for failing to follow the Football League insolvency rules. The new company was also ordered to pay unsecured creditors the amount offered at the time of the original CVA (around ten pence in the pound) within two years. It took until June 2009 for the situation to be fully resolved when a consortium of local businessmen took over the club after long negotiations. 

9:   A huge number of players have played for both AFC Bournemouth and Wycombe Wanderers. These include Jordan Ibe, Nmandi Ofoborh, Trevor Aylott, Kevin Betsy, Steve Claridge, John Delaney, Steve Jones, Brian McGorry, Keith Scott, Justin Skinner, Ryan Allsop, Lionel Ainsworth, Nicholas Bignall, Stephen Cooke, Michael Duberry, Scott Golbourne, Steven Gregory, Stephen Henderson, Jo Kuffour, Franck Rolling, Adam Smith, Marek Stech and Nico Yennaris.
10:  Famous AFC Bournemouth fans include Harry Redknapp who played 101 games for the club and managed them for 457 games. Other fans include actress Jayne Middlemiss and Blur's Alex James.


My first visit to AFC Bournemouth came in February 2002 and came at a point when we were just outside the playoff zone in Division 2. I remember very little about the day, aside from that it was quite warm and sunny for the time of year. It would be a third win in a row for Wycombe with Sean Devine giving us a 67th-minute lead with a real poachers goal. The lead would only last eight minutes however as their future boss Eddie Howe headed home from a corner. We'd not had the greatest of records against Bournemouth but Jermaine McSporran headed home a 94th-minute winner. Bournemouth had a right to feel hard done by. Wycombe only had three shots on goal, scoring two of them. Even worse, Michael Simpson, who set up the winner should have been suspended but owing to an administrative error from referee Jeff Winter, who sent in paperwork late, the suspension would not start until the next game.

Bournemouth was always a very pleasant awayday with a decent amount around the ground. I usually visited the nearby pavilion for food, but we would lose my remaining two visits. The first was in March 2004 when Wycombe were at the foot of the table and en route to their worst points total in their Football League history. Under manager Tony Adams, Wycombe were enjoying a brief renaissance with the team unbeaten in four games, but this time, Bouenmouth would get lucky. Wycombe edged the game and Danny Senda hit the bar but the Cherries won the game thanks to a wonder strike from Warren Cummings. Bournemouth were chasing the playoffs at the time and Wycombe would go on to be relegated by early April.

My third visit would see both teams fortunes reversed, with Wycombe top of the league and Bournemouth sitting second-bottom thanks to a 17 point deduction for financial irregularities. Wycombe had lost to another relegation candidate. Grimsby Town the previous week at home. As has been so typically Wycombe down the years, we often rolled over to help out stricken teams. This game was a case in point and despite Matt Harrold giving Wycombe a 9th-minute lead, they would go on to lose 3-1. Wycombe's goal was only down to an error by Cherries' on loan keeper David Button who tried to dribble the ball around Harrold rather than simply booting the ball away.    We'd only test the keeper once more and the players spent more time arguing with the officials, rather than actually trying to play the game. Brett Pittman would hit a 24th-minute equaliser from a free-kick and Bournemouth would take the lead from a corner with the Wycombe defence arguing over the marking. The final touch came off  Blues Chris Zebroski and the game was sealed when Jake Thomson's deflected shot sealed the 3-1 result. It was Eddie Howe's first-ever game as manager and things would go on to much better things under him. Despite these losses, Wycombe would go on to remain six points ahead at the top of the table but their flaky performances continued and they would go up, but only on goal difference. Eventual winners Brentford would go on to finish 7 points ahead of the Chairboys which shows how patchy results were.
PL CUP: AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Southampton 11/02/22

When I started my blog in 2011, I rushed the first 165 or so entries, just wanting to get them up on the internet as soon as possible. I now regret this and wish I had taken my time more. Over the last few years, I've been going back and improving blogs by revisiting grounds, or during the lockdown, going back and rewriting some of the more recent efforts. There were still 9 that I was not happy with though and I resolved to revisit these. I had a great time at the likes of Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic, but some, such as Bournemouth, were proving tricky. I remembered very little of my visits here but getting tickets for games was tricky because of the small capacity. It was near the top of fellow hopper Colin's list and way back in September, he earmarked this game as one to do. It might have only been a second-string game, but it was a good opportunity on a Friday night. I made all the plans and dug up some match reports of the three previous games that I'd been to. By the time I'd done this, I'd typed a lot more than I thought I would and maybe I could have made a blog earlier. There were plenty of options on this Friday night including a couple of local ones, Wick and plenty in Wales. Maybe if I'd been on my own, I'd have headed elsewhere but I'd promised Colin I would take him and didn't want to let him down.

The day of the game came and although work was busy, I easily got away at 3. I met Colin and we were on our way. There were a few delays, what with it being Friday night but we were there by 5.15. Parking at the stadium was free, rather than the usual £3 50 which was nice. We made our way to Christchurch Road where there were plenty of takeaways and I had salt and chilli chips and Thai Green Curry from a takeaway called China Dragon. It was around a tenner all told and was spot on. We eat it on a bench near the ground with plenty of time to kill until kick-off. We walked back and the stadium looked fantastic in the dark. The whole club was really friendly and it was a nice relaxed atmosphere. Southampton absolutely dominated the game and they took the lead on 36 minutes when Olaigbe fired into the bottom left-hand corner from just inside the area. They made it 2-0 on 55 minutes when Small shot on the turn and found the top corner from around ten yards. The first half was poor but the second half was more competitive. The Bournemouth #10 had a goal disallowed on 67 minutes for offside. They eventually pulled one back on 82 minutes, a well-worked move being finished off by  Jake Scrimshaw. A minute later, the same player netted a penalty to complete the most unlikely of comebacks. Both sides had chances to take the lead including a huge scramble where Southampton were unlucky. But there were no more goals and so in the end, Southampton can feel a bit hard done by.


THE FITNESS FIRST STADIUM was built on the site formerly known as Dean Court. The original stadium was completely rebuilt in the late 90s - Bournemouth even shared at Dorchester Town's Avenue Stadium for a while, while this work was completed. Now they have a brand new stadium. Well, 3/4 of a stadium at least - one stand was just rubble behind one of the goals - though there was temporary seating there for a while and then a full stand added at a later date. Now the stadium is in the Premiership following a meteoric rise but is one the smallest in the league with an 11,300 capacity. Being a new one, views and legroom is good and there is plenty of places to eat and drink around the ground.