This story truly began in the fall of 2012. A club from the south west coast of England, a tourist heavy destination by the name of Bournemouth was about to start something special. The town didn’t know that it was necessarily going to happen as soon as it would, but there was a feeling with the return of young and successful manager Eddie Howe that their footballing ship would be righted. Meanwhile across the Atlantic ocean in a small town of Brantford, Ontario a friend of mine by the name of Lewis and I were hard at work trying to start a Fifa franchise. This ended up having me cross paths with Bournemouth AFC for the first time while we took a good run through the English leagues. It wasn’t much of an introduction, they were league one level, not exactly a very promising club in terms of youthful talent or overall expectation and their start to that years campaign had been dreadful. The real expectation was we would see this club in league two soon enough in next year’s game and if we were to look lets say 3 years down the road, they may not even be in the game anymore.
Now, fast forward to present time August of 2015, which is a full three years later and this little club from the largest town in Dorset has turned some heads. Bournemouth is no longer just the regional center of business, but the regional center of footballing success.
To better understand how impressive their rise is, here is a short look at who this club is and where they had been up until 2012-13:
- formed in 1899 as Boscombe F.C. out of Bournemouth
- 1923 -1971 named Bournemouth and Boscombe AFC and starting in 1923 playing at Dean Court
- 1972 onward have been named A.F.C. Bournemouth
- Were a non-league team up until 1924 having played in the Bournemouth junior league
- Then played from 1924-1975 in 3rd Division (minus 7 years due to world war 2), as well as from 1983-1987, 1991-2001, 2003-2007 and of course 2010-2012-13
- Played in the Fourth Division from 1976-1982, then for 2002-03, and then the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons
- They have reached as high as the second division for just three years from 1988-1990 and never been as high as first division now referred to as the the premiership
- In numbers they had three seasons higher than league one level in their history and have only ever had to perform in league two for nine seasons, while 2012-13 was their 69th football season in league one.
Their worst time came during February of 2008 in the midst of a relegation season from league one to two. The club was forced into administration, a 10 point deduction also helped seal their relegation to league two, but the positive to come from it all was somehow they saved their beloved cherries from extinction. After hiring the youngest manager in the game Eddie Howe at 31 he promoted the club within one year back to league one before leaving for a higher level. Then two years of ups and downs followed and the club seemed to settle in league one slightly. Then came the awful and disastrous start to their 2012-13 campaign leaving their manager sacked by late October and Eddie Howe, now free from duty, to be re-hired to work his magic.
This is again where their rise began. Howe would take the club from the clutches of relegation and somehow have them play so successfully they rose from the bottom of the 24 to 2nd in the league for an automatic promotion campaign that had the Cherries returning to the now named league championship for the first time since 1990. Just two short years later, he has finished one of the more successful league championship title winning seasons, thus promoting Bournemouth AFC into their first ever premiership season with a squad that is in form and playing with extreme confidence.
So why must they stay/stick around this season within the premiership for the betterment of English football should be clear. They give the little clubs hope, clubs that may be down in league two and one and even further down within the leagues of the English game, they have become that shining hope that your club can too build a winning form and breed a successful run that can take you to the top flight. Its never easy to reach the highest level with the promotion and relegation system that has always traditionally stood strong within the English game. Traditionally its been even harder for the minnows of the English game to make their movements consistently successful in order to continue up the rankings, especially considering the financial aspect that always seems to play such a major role in the game today.
However, through these pratfalls, Bournemouth has still found a way to remain frugal and resilient to overspending for talent, but willing to put the financial backing behind their squad and club to still compete with those around them at the top flight of England. This kind of spending, mixed with their talented manager has combined to form a formidable minnow. Players added to the club in recent years such as Matt Ritchie, Callum Wilson, Harry Arter, Artur Boruc, and the list continues has helped the club to take that next step forward with little extra spending, instead investing in players with the potential, or the past at the highest levels of football.
Lets hope they can shed the minnows title and not only continue to expand Dean Court, but expand their history with some successive and successful seasons within England’s top flight, giving some of the other minnows a peek at what could be in store if they just set their sights on the mountain top.