Monday, 22 July 2013

The day Real Madrid came to Dean Court

Glamour and tributes on a wonderful day

I was extremely excited about the day when Real Madrid were coming to AFCB's Dean Court to play the exhibition match. So much talk had been made about ticket prices and why the nine times European Champions should consider coming to our small but picturesque ground that in the heat of the moment many journalist missed the point that much of the seaside town and AFCB supporters were absolutely thrilled that they would witness some of the world's greatest players doing battle against the Cherries first team. 

There really would be a football match with those special Spanish shirts running about in front of us. If I had any doubts the men trying to sell AFCB and Real Madrid scarf's at the paths leading up to the club soon let me know that this was a special day. How much for a scarf £15! But it's hot and sunny- I cried, before moving on and keeping hold of my cash.

The scarf sellers were out in force.

Turning up early at the game I still expected a big crowd and I wasn't disappointed. I managed to make my way towards the main stadium entrance only to find a throng of people making a human barrier six people deep. I had to go round the green fence and ended up in the car park, which was not so bad as I quickly opened up my special match day programme and hunted down the signatures of Simon Francis, Marc Pugh and Harry Arter, while wishing them luck for the game. The Bournemouth players looked calm and up for the challenge.

After I thought all the main AFCB players had gone in I turned round to see how many people had now filled the area in front of the Main Reception. The place was absolutely jam-packed awaiting the arrival of the Real Madrid bus. Fearing a stampede I decided to take a look around the newly extended and refurbished club shop. I had been up earlier in the morning to take some pictures, when no one but the cleaners had been around, but I hadn't been able to go inside then. Apparently the shop was opened around 2pm.

The newly refurbished club shop.
Wow, is this really AFCB I thought. Walking around the shop was like walking into Aladdin's cave for an AFCB supporter. There was so much to see and I don't just mean the onesies! I made a beeline for the Steve Fletcher exhibit, an automated mannequin that was in full running motion no doubt ready to make a strike on goal. Having got permission, I started to snap away!

The new trophy cabinet, simply gleaming - plenty of room for the
Championship trophy I reckon.

Then I spied the silver trophy cabinet. So many sparkling cups and shields were in there I had to take a picture. It will take a while to read all the inscriptions on those. Having bought my AFCB headphones (mine had broken the day before) and picked up a copy of last season's DVD I rushed out again to try and ease my way into the queue to photograph the in coming coaches. I am told Christiano was on the bus but there was nothing to see apart from some  reflections in the darkened glass. It was the noise that gave it away when the players got off the bus, a few jeers and taunts and even some welcomes. Real Madrid had arrived!

I then spotted some Tennessee shirts among the supporters and wondered what they were doing at the game. I was told they are a youth soccer team from the USA who have been invited to the game as they are playing several teams over here - AFC Bournemouth, QPR, Reading and maybe Southampton.

The Tennessee soccer team.
Before the proceedings could really get away on the day, it was time to open the hastily constructed South Stand and who better than Ted MacDougall to do the honours.

Ted MacDougall opens the South stand.

While we were all doing a Mexican wave around the ground to celebrate the stand opening, it was not long before the players came out to warm up. All eyes focussed on a certain Real Madrid No7 and he delighted in showing some of his flicks and kicks and even balancing the ball on his head, much to our great amusement.

Ronaldo's tricks are something else!

Real Madrid play run around.

It was quite remarkable to see Zinadine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti chatting to each other in front of the dug out. Ancelotti said he wanted to play some "bright, attacking football" in his era at Real Madrid, well I don't think any one will be complaining if his team plays like they did in his first game against AFCB.  Now it is up to our lads to learn from the experience and try and add some of that to their game.

Got a person's head in the way here - oops!

Don't worry, Tommy didn't take on all of Real Madrid's team on his own.

So this was the day that Real Madrid came to Bournemouth. Will it live long in the memory? of course it will. I will remember the day when I watched Ronaldo, Alonso, Modric, Benzema, Kaka and company decorate our pitch with their flamboyant skills and expertise. It will be something to pass down to next generations. But just imagine if you had been one of those little mascots running out on to the pitch yesterday. Do you think they would have noticed if I had tried to swap places with one of them? 

I also want to say a big thank you to my friend Damien Hill, in the Family Stand, who found some paper for me to write my match notes on for the Real Madrid game, after I left my pad in the car!

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