Thursday, 1 January 2015

Distant Exiles: Canada calling

If you remember I invited Distant Exiles to get in touch having received a piece from Jonathan Baker on Christmas Day that I posted on Cherry Chimes. Well, we now have our second contributor. Jon Crofts has kindly offered to share his memories and love for AFC Bournemouth from his outpost in Canada. Jon has included a few pictures of his sons as well. Over to you Jon.

I remember becoming slowly aware that Bournemouth had a club of its own from around 12 years old. My family was never very sporty, but I loved football and managed to persuade my dad to take me in October '82. I remember the excitement of watching the players warm up, the smell of cigarette smoke drifting around the new stand, and arguing with my dad about how good Milton Graham was, a point Milton helped me to win by scoring twice (this was his debut). I was hooked.

From then on I wanted to go to every game, and it helped that we were in a promotion season. I remember the pitch invasion when we played Sheffield UTD, Stockport County playing in Argentina's colours (pre-Falklands) a cup game against Reading in front of 7000 or so, and promotion against Hereford Utd.

The first game I went to on my own was Cardiff City, we won 3-1 and I remember watching drunk Cardiff fans smashing in the side of a bus before using me for a game of pinball as they passed the bus stop on Holdenhurst Road, the wonderful yellow bus driver having closed the doors and left me to it!

I was in the south stand by the time of the Man Utd FA cup game, (I'd also been at the Milk Cup game when Phil Brignull broke Ray Wilkins cheek bone with a loud crack in front of the main stand) something I will never forget, along with Ron Atkinson's accusation that our fans were trying to get the game halted by invading the pitch! (They were in fact, trying to escape the Man Utd fans who had invaded the back of the stand).

I was at Fulham for promotion, and remember the 15,000 or so (officially anyway) for Middlesborough at home and many memorable away games from the mud of Devon to the smokestacks of up north.

Tom on the pitch (thanks to the groundsman at DC letting us in!).

Tom before the Charlton game.
Luther Blissett's hat-trick against Hull City stands out also, as does the day I met Brian Tyler outside the ground after a reserve game and became the first (I think) to hear that we had sold Carl Richards. (Brian seemed very happy with the deal, 30,000 I think!).

I moved to a little know Western Canadian town in 2002 (and have since met three other Cherries fans here) and have seen a handful of games since then, always timing my visits for maximum home games. On my last visit in October I was astounded by the progress of the club on and off the pitch. I have always believed that the club has huge potential if allowed to grow, and still find it annoying when people in the town suggest we are not big enough and somehow don't want success.

I now have three young sons, and they are all cherries fans who watch games with me on the net when they are being streamed live and at Dean Court when we are visiting.

Jamie Jack and Tom stopping for coffee on their way to '
Soccer Camp'.They were the only kids in Bournemouth kit!
If you wonder what Jon does in Canada here is his website.

To make these items a regular feature, I need more of you to write in from distant places. So if you are in Timbuktu, North Korea or somewhere stranger and follow AFCB we want to hear from you. If I receive four more articles we will have enough to the end of the season.

 Email me at and please send in your picture too.

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