Thursday, 30 April 2015

AFCB Player Awards well deserved

The celebrations on Monday night kind of took over the end of season awards for the players but there was plenty of silverware around Harry Arter and Callum Wilson before the match against Bolton. If you are not aware of the roll of honour for 2014-15 the winners were as follows:
Harry picks up the Supporters' Award.
Harry had a busy night.
Callum has also had a terrific season. 
Supporters’ player of the season – Harry Arter
Junior Cherries player of the season – Callum Wilson
Micky Cave-Daily Echo player of the season – Harry Arter
Vice Presidents player of the season – Harry Arter
Exiles player of the season – Callum Wilson

Harry Arter's stats for the season are pretty amazing considering how quickly he has developed over the last few years. This is his record before the Bolton game

Goals 8 (6 outside the box)
Assists 3
Tackles per game 2.6
Interceptions per game 1.6
Key passes per game 1
Dribbles per game 1 (success rate 75.9 per cent)
Accurate passes 2245 (2nd most in the league)
Stats from

I admit that it was hard to see beyond the two winners, although perhaps Matt Ritchie was a close third having scored some spectacular goals this season with his free kick against Sheffield Wednesday perhaps coming just that bit late to see him tip a few more voters his way. I did see that Matt was rated No 1 footballer in the 442 magazine of the top 50 players, but I think his International cap for Scotland he will rate slightly higher.

Let's face it though, the whole team has been amazing and for the two individuals who have been the ones credited with having the best seasons for the club they must be tremendously proud in such a historic moment. The end of season Awards evening will be the chance for a few more words to be said about the players achievements before they break up for the summer, but I already get the feeling that most of the players will be itching to get back to things when they return for the pre-season training with such amazing teams to play against. Roll on next season!

Now some of you might want to get more of a reminder about what it was like down on the pitch after the final whistle went on Monday. I advise you to listen to this BBC Radio 5 Live commentary which is available for just the next few days so do it now - click here.

Title is Watford’s to lose, but it’s Derby and Ipswich that should be nervy! I also have a preview of the last round of Championship games - pop over to The Championship Run-In to get my thoughts on how it might pan out!

Also don't forget, tomorrow we'll be releasing the Cherry Chimes' May Newsletter which picks over the top stories from the blog in April to reflect on how AFCB reached the top flight.

To subscribe to the Newsletter sign up here

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Charlton blogger Dr Kish offers you a seat at The Valley

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Charlton v AFCB
Blogger interview: Dr Kish

While AFCB fans were biting their nails last weekend wondering whether the team was about to fall out of the automatic promotion places and wondering whether the result against Sheffield Wednesday had scuppered the Cherries' promotion charge, I took a few moments to send over some questions to regular Charlton blogger Dr Kish who as more than happy to calm my nerves and provide some clarity on some of the decisions taken at The Valley this season.

CC: Charlton changed their manager this season. Do you feel that the owner, Roland Dutchatelet, is dabbling with the club and risks alienating supporters and what happened at the fan meeting in February with him?

DRK: Well, Watford are in a similar situation, four managers in 36 days for them this season, with an owner who has other clubs under his command. I'm sure Charlton fans would like to have emulated the Hornets. Though Duchatelet is accused of interfering by some fans, there's nothing to substantiate the claims. He is a businessman and does not get involved with the day-to-day running of the club.

Nobody from the club was present at the fans' meeting. Since then, the team has been in reasonable form and the worries harboured by some have eased.

CC: Charlton sit in 10th place ahead of the last two games so are you fairly pleased with how the season went for the Addicks on the pitch?

DRK: I'm a firm believer that the table doesn't lie. In September, we would have been hugely disappointed with tenth, in January we would have been delighted with it. The 14 game win-less streak ended any hopes we had of ending in the top six, consistency is the key to success in football and we didn't have it in the middle of the season.

CC: Do you see much change in the way the team has played since Guy Luzon has been manager and can you see him lasting any longer than Bob Peters?

DRK: Peeters, like Chris Powell, was a defence minded coach. During his time in charge, all the six wins Peeters achieved were by a single goal and only once did the team score more than twice in a game. Luzon is much more attack minded, we have scored three in a game on several occasions, have come from behind to win - something we never did under Peeters - and continue attacking even if we are leading late on in a game. Luzon's team is much easier on the eye and his future looks assured.

CC: Who has been Charlton's best player this season?

DRK: Our Icelandic midfielder, Johann Berg Gudmundsson. He is capable of scoring spectacular goals.

CC: Charlton still doesn't have a 20 goal striker and do you think that is the main reason why you have not made it higher in the league this season?

DRK: Not really. When Cardiff and Hull went up a couple of seasons back, their top scorers netted eight and nine goals respectively. Inconsistency and an overly cautious approach earlier in the season are the main factors behind us not being higher in the table .

CC: Charlton have only lost three of their last 10 home games so this is not going to be an easy game for the Cherries is it?

DRK: It will be an open game, Eddie Howe worked out that scoring more than the opposition - rather than trying to concede less - is the key to success. Two talented wingers, good strikers, pace and speed of thought have served you well. Luzon will also attack, both sides will have chances and it is down to who has the composure to take them on the day.

CC: How has Stephen Henderson been in goal and do you think he is one of the better keepers in the Championship?

DRK: Stephen missed 14 games in the middle of the season and it is no coincidence that we did not win any of them. He was also out for a short spell earlier in the season. He is a top keeper at this level and key to our chances of success next season. I have not seen any keeper in the Championship I would swap him for, but as you guys know, he is injury prone. But for that, I think he'd be playing in the Premier League.

CC: The Addicks were a bit reluctant to give AFCB more than 2900 tickets for the final game of the season but conjured up another 1400 after AFCB chairman Jeff Motsyn pleaded with Charlton Athletic to release more tickets - any reason why can think why Charlton were so slow to agree to a bigger allocation of tickets for AFCB fans for such a special game for our supporters?

DRK: A few words on the figures to start. The Jimmy Seed Stand (the stand behind the goal which will house the Bournemouth fans) has a capacity of just under 3300. Watford, Millwall and Leeds have all brought well over 3000 fans. I assume the 2900 figure you quote is because the club (Bournemouth) had to reserve more than usual for players' families etc, given the importance of the game. Also, despite both clubs announcing the release of an additional 1400 tickets, I believe the figure is actually closer to 1500. There was never any reluctance to allocate more tickets, but there were a number of issues that had to be resolved. The Met Police are strict with segregation at London grounds and this is the first time that The Valley in its current form, has housed away fans anywhere but in the Jimmy Seed Stand. For the FA Cup ties with Brentford and Leyton Orient a few years back, the end two blocks of the East Stand (the one to the right of where you guys will be sitting) were given to the away fans. This was relatively easy, there were no season ticket issues, the stand has turnstiles at both ends and the two blocks have their own toilet and catering facilities. This season, Charlton sold season tickets in the end block for £150 and sold it out. I'm not sure of the legalities involved in moving season ticket holders but there is not enough room in the East Stand to relocate them all. The Upper West, where your extra tickets are, gives a fine view of the action and is normally fairly sparsely populated in the blocks you have been allocated. However, there are a number of season ticket holders in these blocks and Charlton contacted them all individually and gave them food vouchers by way of compensation. Also, the Met are unhappy about housing away fans above home fans and I believe the local council had to be contacted regarding the safety certificate. I think (correctly) both clubs did not want to say anything until all the issues had been resolved. I think Katrien Meire (Charlton CEO) deserves credit for making the release of extra tickets possible, and also Jeff Mostyn , for paying the considerable additional costs incurred.

CC: Do you think Charlton fans would be pleased to see the trophy at the ground should Bournemouth win the league and do you think such scenes could help inspire Charlton for next season?

DRK: Bournemouth's elevation to the top flight is a modern day fairy tale that any true fan will enjoy. The lifting of the trophy would not be the inspiration, you have already given that with the season you've had. A few years back Bournemouth were in the bottom tier of English football with a 17 point deduction. Now you are on the cusp of the Premier League, you have no debt, a summer spend of just £3.5m (and I guess most of that was recouped by the sale of Lewis Grabban?) and you have the smallest capacity in the division. If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is.

CC: What do you make of Eddie Howe's talent?

DRK: One of my favourite 'if only's' is how different things might have been had Eddie come to The Valley back in 2011. Fantastic manager who gets his teams playing the right way. Eddie's a cunning so-and-so, the season we signed Simon Francis he had been in dispute with Southend and missed most of pre-season.

First game of the season, we were at home to AFCB and Francis' fitness level being below par, a young Chris Solly played at right back. Eddie isolated Brett Pitman at the far post with Solly and exposed his lack of height.

Francis was ushered into the team before he was ready and had a poor season and had the crowd on his back. Eventually Franny left to fulfil his potential with you guys. Say no more.

CC: What is your score prediction for the game?

If both teams play like they did in their weekend games, Bournemouth will win in a canter! I'm hoping Charlton will be back on form and Eddie and the boys spend the week celebrating! I think there will be a few goals in the game.

I would like to thank Peter for giving me the opportunity to answer theses questions. I am typing these final words whilst watching the celebrations after the Bolton game!

Congratulations to everyone connected with Bournemouth. Enjoy the euphoria, the party at The Valley on Saturday, the summer, the sleepless night before the fixtures are released on 17 June and then you will know for sure it's not a dream. I will miss my favourite away trip next season but hope to witness a little bit of history on a sunny afternoon in August 2016, when Bournemouth entertain Charlton in the first ever top-flight clash between the two teams.

Good luck to you all, enjoy the Premier League! You will - like us for a few years - be everyone's second favourite team.

CC: We couldn't have asked for a much better farewell from the Championship than some of the kind words spoken by Dr Kish there. I think I can speak for most AFCB fans that we have thoroughly enjoyed being in the Championship and should the Addicks do an AFCB, and score a bucket load of goals next season, I am sure we will remember the day we are about to have at the Valley, especially the 1400 who already have Katrien Meire down to receive the first congratulations when the Addicks come up to join the Cherries!

As for the trophy I don't suppose SkyBet has a helicopter and a heli-pad at Charlton and Watford - it could be a bit of a hard decision where to land at half time on Saturday. Make sure you check out Dr Kish's site which has some excellent views on matters Charlton and Championship chat.

Tomorrow we'll be releasing the Cherry Chimes' May Newsletter which picks over the top stories from the blog in April to reflect on how AFCB reached the top flight.

To subscribe to the Newsletter sign up here

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Has it sunk in yet? AFC BOURNEMOUTH Premeir League!

The 'glitterary' as Jeff Mostyn calls them are going to be well aware of what AFC Bournemouth have achieved and will not be handing out any special favours when AFC Bournemouth take their place in the Premier League. Jeff was very excited and believes that the calmness of Eddie Howe and the team stopped the team from imploding during the run-in and now they will have to turn that Great Escape spirit that has served the club so well in the past into a Dean Court fortress that is capable of withstanding some of the world's best players when they come visiting from next August.
It was a great atmosphere at Dean Court with inflatables and red and black colours.
There might be plans in place for alterations to the stadium and we may not like everything about the new level where AFCB are going to be plying their trade, but to increase your turnover from £4m to somewhere near £120m in a season in going to have a massive impact on just about everything associated with the club and fans are just another factor who will have to get their heads around that very quickly.

AFCB is lucky that it does have a manager who will plot a clear course through the media hazards and other difficulties on the pitch that the club have yet to face. It won't be at all easy, but this club never knows the meaning of easy. Graft, passion and a love of football can carry AFCB a long way and now they have a fair bit of talent as well on their books.

When the players step out next time at Dean Court in a league fixture it will be a different outlook that everyone will probably need to have. AFCB deserve to be where they are headed and with the tools they have it will be our pleasure to see them take on clubs that have some big advantages, but many that will find the Cherries well capable of raising their profile and their standard of play yet another level - that is the goal now and it is going to be very special to see how the club now evolves.

Tomorrow we have the first of two Rival Lines and Cherry Chimes seeks to Dr Kish find out what were the problems with Charlton releasing more seats to AFCB fans for the match on Saturday - all is revealed!

I have also put a number of the latest reaction videos up on the sidebar pannel as Sky Sports interviewed Jeff Mostyn, Eddie Howe and Matt Ritchie outside the ground yesterday - enjoy!

What a great time to be a fan of the Cherries!

I know that everyone is still in a state of shock and that is just the supporters at AFCB. Now the whole world is waking up to hear the story about this amazing football club on the south coast of England that has surmounted incredible odds to land, slap bang, in the Premier League where who knows what will happen next?
Eddie Howe pre-match with fan.
Jeff Mostyn speaks to BBC Radio 5 live. 
It has been a good 24-36 hours and more since the Cherries reached their historic milestone and the sense of realisation is just starting to settle on matters. There are some big decisions for the club now to take regarding seating arrangements, media coverage and sorting out budgets for the coming season, let alone dealing with an influx of calls regarding season tickets and their administration as well as what Eddie Howe and his management and scouting teams needing to arrange and discuss about player contracts and possible new signings.

The club has released a special batch of audio commentary interviews from Monday night and have grouped them all together on a dedicated page called Bournemouth make history. You can also listen to the interviews down the side of Cherry Chimes in the right hand panel.

The buzz is simply not going to stop or at least the phones won't stop ringing now right up the start of next season and I am sure that the Bournemouth Tourist industry is already getting ready for what could be a bumper summer in the seaside resort with all this new interest in one of the town's greatest assets - AFC Bournemouth. I am guessing that Mr Parry of TalkSport is already limbering up in his Cherries' swimming trunks ready to take his plunge off of Bournemouth Pier!

I do hope that Eddie Howe can just get a few days off although I don't expect he'll be keen to step off the pedal with such an exciting new project ahead of him. We have seen how euphoric the celebrations were on Monday night and I am sure that many local companies will be beating down the door to see themselves linked with the club in some way going forward. It is a milion miles away from the club we all knew back in 2009 and it has all happened like a whirlwind.

Building the pre-match atmosphere The Bournemouth Concert Brass
 - The Great Escape March. A good memory of past seasons.  

The players may wish to get away and get on their summer holidays but of course we still have one fixture left and I would expect news very shortly about what is going to happen regarding a bus tour of the town following Saturday's final game - oh yes, the official club site has it here. In the meantime, the airwaves and the internet are humming with the sound of chat on AFC Bournemouth and as fans we can all just enjoy being part of the most talked about football club in the land.

Mike Botto and Steve Cook with their game faces on.
All Departments has released its special AFC Bournemouth v Bolton podcast with special guest stadium announcer Mike Botto. Visit the sidebar on Cherry Chimes and click on the All Departments' sound bar to listen or go to the All Departments' website. Mr Botto and club photographer Steve Cook was captured before the match trying to photo bomb my pictures of the player of the year awards.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Premier league here we come!

I am still finding it hard to believe, but yes AFC Bournemouth will be playing Premier League football next year. I have put a new Cherry Chimes banner up on the site in recognition of the team's new status. I am just so happy that the stress and nervous tension may soon be coming to an end, although I still believe I will be curious to see if AFCB can still lift the trophy come Saturday afternoon.

It will be a happy day at Charlton though no matter what now. Among all the scenes of last night with the crowd on the pitch and the interviews being carried out, I was really pleased to see Harry Redknapp at the ground in the Sky Sports' tower, leaning over to the window and applauding the job that Eddie Howe had done at the club. I know he will be absolutely chuffed with what has happened and he will know that there is no nicer guy than Eddie Howe to have eclipsed what he has achieved at the Cherries.
The players did manage to get a bit of space
eventually last night, but they will see more photographers
around the ground next season.
Last night the players looked equally as surprised and shocked that they had done it as some of the fans which was also pleasing. The team put in a top performance and thoroughly deserved the points on the night. I liked many of the late scenes in the changing room with Jeff Mostyn getting the bumps and interviews being interrupted by a boisterous chorus of "We are going up!" in the background. I hope that the lads do celebrate in style for a day, because I am sure Eddie will have them back at work asap and thinking of what they can do on Saturday when the headlines could be even bigger for them.

Jeff Mostyn is having a party!

Harry Redknapp enjoyed the evening's entertainment.

The players were the heroes against Bolton as they could have got nervous and felt even more pressure by leaving it to the last game of the season. In the background though we know that Eddie Howe and his players have been backed by Maxim Demin, Neil Blake, Jeff Mostyn and many others who are integral to the team and I am just so delighted for all of them as well as the fans. UTCIAD!


Match Report
27 April 2015
AFCB 3 v 0 Bolton Wanderers
Attendance: 10,070

Joyous scenes at Dean Court as AFCB reach the Premier League!
We had been dreaming of a result that would book AFCB's place in the Premier League. I had a few predictions that it was going to be a great night for the Cherries and they certainly did not disappoint. The evening was remarkable for so many ways and the atmosphere was something that will live with me forever. It was just bouncing from the start with balloons and noise shaking Dean Court to the foundations and Bolton's players must have wondered what they had walked into. They found out soon enough as Marc Pugh flipped the ball from his right side and then on to his left before blazing home an absolute stunner of a goal in the 39th minute and four minutes later the Cherries sliced open the Bolton defence again with a crafted network of scintillating passes that saw Callum Wilson find Yann Kermorgant who set up the strike for Matt Ritchie to run on to and bury in the bottom left corner of Bolton's goal. The only slight hiccup of the night came when Wilson was brought down by Dorian Dervite and Yann Kermorgant surprisingly missed the spot kick! Still it had been Premier League stuff all night from the Cherries and they rounded things off when Callum Wilson added a touch of class with a swift turn and shot after Pugh and Surman had set him up. Next season can't come soon enough now and some of those Premier League big boys had better look out!

Eddie just had the one enforced change with Adam Smith replacing the suspended Simon Francis at right back. While the trophies and season's awards were being handed out to Callum Wilson and Harry Arter before the game we waited to see who would be the star of the night on the field.

More pictures are now up on Match Day Gallery.
The crowd's ready.
The teams are ready.
Final team photo.
The captain's in the middle. Emile Heskey and Tommy Elphick.
A tribute to the lives lost in the Bradford fire tragedy.
First Half
As early as the second minute Callum Wilson was played in by a long ball from Charlie Daniels up the left and Wilson muscled his way past Tim Ream who he left on the floor and Bogden had to make an early save with his legs! Yann Kermorgant as usual got an early injury as the ball flew up into his face I think from Barry Bannan but it was accidental, although the Frenchman was probably seeing stars for a few seconds. The game was very open and AFCB were really going for the early goal, while Bolton too were looking to use Emile Heskey's height to win the ball in dangerous areas. Dorian Dervite had Bolton's first headed chance that he put wide but he was offside on 11 minutes.

AFCB almost scored when Matt Ritchie then had his shot saved off the line by a defender as the crowd and AFCB ramped up the volume. the tide almost turned though in the 14th minute when Dervite headed on to Adam Le Fondre but he misjudged his headed flick which didn't have the power or direction to beat Artur Boruc at close range. The Cherries picked up the pace again and Yann Kermorgant went close with a header after 22 minutes and then again with a lofted chip five minutes later. 

Matt Ritchie was also more in the game now and when he had the ball pulled back to him there was a great save on the line bu one of Bolton's defenders from what looked like a certain goal. A fabulous save was then made by Adam Bodgen from a Yann Kermorgant blast with one hand turning it over the bar!

The tension was growing but Bolton could not hold out forever. it was attack after attack and the red and black shirts got their reward when Matt Ritchie put in a deep cross that Marc Pugh brought down before pivoting and then turning the ball from one foot to the other before powering his shot into the far, top left corner with Bogden only able to get a touch as it rifled into the net with the help of the post. It was 1-0 to the Cherries and the AFCB fans went totally bonkers!

More was to come though as Callum Wilson stretched the white shirted defence again on the left and had acres of room in which to find Kermorgant on the other side of the box and his sharp layoff to Ritchie was so inviting that Matt just bent his head down and steered the ball past Bogden and into the bottom left corner to make it 2-0 before half time. Yes, the Cherries were going up and they were doing it in style.

The players come off to the tune of Match of the Day.
Harry Redknapp in the Sky Sport's TV platform with the Championship Trophy.

Second Half
The second half started pretty much as the first had ended with AFCB doing most of the entertaining.  When Bolton did have a chance that fell to Barry Bannan he could only shoot wide.

The Cherries first good chance of the second half would fall to Steve Cook. The centre back had run into the box and had tried to get on to a low sweeping cross from Callum Wilson but he went for it with his right foot when his left might have done better to go with his stronger left foot as he slid in.

Liam Feeney had worked hard all night but was subbed by Bolton for Threlkeld on 63 minutes, while Davies also went off so that Gudjohnsen could come on. It didn't really slow the Cherries down. Yann Kermorgant was even cheeky enough to try his luck from just over half way with a dipping lob of 35 yards that had Bogden back pedalling and just tipping over his bar in time. It didn't impress Callum Wilson though who was remonstrating with Yann for the next couple of minutes saying that he should have passed to him instead. There was a scramble in Bolton's six yard area with Steve Cook making a nuisance of himself and forcing a save from Bodgen while Wilson tried to snap up the leftovers but missed out on this occasion.  

The game could have turned when on 71 minutes Callum Wilson was brought down in the box and Dervite was given a red card. Up stepped Yann Kermorgant who does not usually miss from the spot, but he leaned back a bit far and clotted this one over the bar. It gave Bolton a feeling that they had been let off the hook and they did try to come forward more with Tom walker heading over a little later.

It was going to be Bournemouth's night though and that was ensured on 78 minutes when Surman found an eager Wilson with his back to goal in the box. a swift turn and a deadly shot and it was 3-0 to the home team. 

Bolton replaced Le Fondre with Woolery on 79 minutes and AFCB brought on Pitman for Kermorgant a minute later. Ryan Fraser also joined the action to replace Ritchie on 83 minutes. It was pretty much party time now but Arter did screw a shot just wide which would have capped a special night for him and the team, but I don't think he was too worried. Dan Gosling came on for Marc Pugh as the 89th minute ticked over and the three minutes of extra time where memorable for just one shot over from Callum Wilson and one eager youth who tried to jump the gun on the pitch invasion much to his shame. Everyone was soon partying though because the reds had done it - League Tow to Premier League in seven years! Not bad for a lad they said was too young to manage.
Good luck holding them back!
The race is on to get to the players.

A week of summaries would not be enough to give credit to the players and the staff at AFC Bournemouth who made this great day happen through their hard work and dedication not just over this 90 minutes or even for just this season, but for several seasons of fantastic play that we have all had the privilege to watch. Now we can say this club has matched its ambition with Premier league football as long as Charlton don't manage a thumping 19-0 win at The Valley or some spectacular score at the Riverside. I just tried to soak up the occasion as best I could and remembered as Eddie always says were we have come from. Some how I think there is more than a little more to this story yet and while that can start at The Valley on Saturday there is a whole new era about to start next August for our club. If you are like me, I think you might want to stay on the bus to see where it takes AFCB.

Boruc, Smith, Elphick, Cook, Daniel, Ritchie (Fraser 83), Surman, Arter, Pugh (Gosling 89), Kermorgant (Pitman 80), Wilson

Camp,  Harte, Fraser, Pitman, Gosling, Ward, Jones

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 10, Smith 10, Elphick 10, Cook 10, Daniel 10, Ritchie 10, Surman 10, Arter 10, Pugh 10, Kermorgant 10, Wilson 10 in fact the whole squad 10/10 amazing!

Bogdan, Dervite, Ream, Moxey, Feeney (Threlkeld), Davies (Gudjohnsen 63) Danns, Bannan, Walker, Le Fondre (Woolery 79), Heskey

Bolton subs
Gudjohnsen, Lonergan, Twardzik, Woolery, Taylor, Threlkeld,  Coke

Referee Watch: Simon Hooper  8/10 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Come on Cherries - step up to the Premier League!

Well, the day of reckoning is here now for the Cherries now. The team needs to perform against Bolton Wanderers to keep in with a final day chance to win promotion and perhaps the title. It is hard on the players and club and all the fans that it is so close at this late stage and that some teams will find themselves in the play-offs but AFCB should not play with fear. Fear just is not knowing and not having a plan and no AFCB side of Eddie Howe's has ever shied away from a challenge.
This is what the team has been working towards - three more points please.  
I am hoping that someone rattles off a few names to the past players who wore Red & Black before they go on that field and remind them of where this club has been for most of its history. Us fans all have our past favourites but this is a chance for this generation to remember a team as a whole and a winning team that made the name AFC Bournemouth one that was not only respected but known for its expansive passing and flowing football. Over the years we have seen some exhilarating moments and some spectacular goals, but I don't think anything could prepare fans for where we want the team to be after tonight's match against Bolton.

Matt Ritchie's celebration after his goal against Sheffield Wednesday was just a taster. AFCB fans have the passion and the energy to raise the roof of Dean Court and such a night is what this team deserves as it has been magnificent in every area. We have to try and help the team play like we know it can to win the game and make it a night to remember. There is unlikely to be too many second chances. But this team can put both feet in the Premier League tonight with a home send off which would make November 5th seem like a quiet night - bring  your voices and your passion.

Let's ensure that "The Reds are Going Up!"

The Cherries need to raise their form for a night to remember!

AFCB are now unbeaten in their last 11 games. The run has contained four draws and five clean sheets and the task of getting a win against either Bolton or Charlton is likely to need even more resolve from the Cherries if they are to succeed. A win against Bolton will do it so I am fully prepared for a late night party  tonight. Work the next day may just have to wait!

In their last match against Sheffield Wednesday, AFCB were unable to dominate as much as we have been used to seeing them control games. AFCB did hold the share of possession at 62 per cent but Sheffield Wednesday had plenty of chances and hit six shots on target compared to the Cherries' four. It didn't feel that AFCB were comfortable at any point during the game even when they went 2-1 up and that is something that won't sit well with Eddie Howe. When the team has worked extremely hard to comeback and get ahead it was devastating to see Sheffield Wednesday have an easy opportunity to get the draw.
AFCB just need one big effort now.
AFCB did not play that high up the pitch in the first half and when it came to the second half they also fell back deep when they had got the lead..Sometimes it is hard to continue doing the positive things that get you in front. It is natural to try and hold on to what you have and to protect it, but it is not these kind of games that  have characterised AFCB's season this year in any great number. As long as the team draws on the positives from the game there was still much to take out of the Sheffield game that was good, and if AFCB are to raise their form Eddie Howe will need the team to focus on the fact that they came back and scored two at home. Had there been a clean sheet, there would be less to worry about. So keeping Bolton out has to be the first aim when the two teams meet and not falling behind, because AFCB  usually find a way to score. 

We need a special night today - a night to remember. It is probably vital that the Cherries take this first opportunity to get up,otherwise the Charlton game could be a very nervy affair. UTCIAD!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Beating Neil Lennon's side is now the task

If there was a side in the Championship that has had a very different experience of football to AFCB in the last five years you could easily recommend Bolton Wanderers. After 11 years adorning the top flight though they probably see themselves as the underdog in this game against the promotion chasing Cherries, but they have a first class manager in Neil Lennon who is used to bumper crowds and the Glasgow derby matches and taking on AFCB would perhaps seem like a nice day out at the seaside for those who have not seen AFCB play this season.

While Bolton are safe from relegation it is financial worries that probably hinder this club more than anything else. I recently heard that the club's debt was £172.9m which is staggering with a £9.1m debt for the 2014 financial year. Still the players on the pitch are what will matter come Monday night and Bolton have some talent to choose from.

I have been really impressed with the young Zach Clough who has been one of the best players in the Championship this season for me. He runs at defences with real pace and control and because he has a low centre of gravity he is very hard to stop when he gets on a run. perhaps AFCB could think about a cheeky offer for him in the summer? They also have experience and past legends of the club returning with Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey leading their strike force. But if their aged strikers do not frighten you they still have Adam Le Fondre and Craig Davies who have been doing fairly well of late.

Bolton still have quite a few players that were at the club when they were in the Premier League like Adam Bogdan in goal, David Wheater, Darren Pratley plus players who have been their with other teams such as Matt Mills, Dean Moxley, Barry Bannan etc. But the makeup of their team is changing and they are bringing in lower wage earners from lower down the football pyramid. It does not look like Neil Lennon will put too many youngsters in though for this game.

The current form of Bolton away from home has been reasonably strong have not lost their last three but they did lose to Ipswich and Blackburn in March in away games and the Cardiff win  they had in April is their only one of two away wins for them in 205, the other coming at Sheffield Wednesday back in January. Getting a 2-2 draw though last time out at Brentford tells me that Bolton are capable of defending though against good attacking teams and they also came from behind twice to get that draw. 

What I don't want to see is Liam Feeney playing extra well back at Dean Court. He had a great couple of matches against Liverpool in the FA Cup and any team that can hold Liverpool at Anfield has to be respected.

Bolton Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Big players must come to the fore now

Big games call for big players. AFCB may not be a team of big named players to outsiders but there are some members of the team who are the ones who others look to when they need a boost and pick me up. I have already talked about Tommy Elphick this past week and it was also great to see Elliott Ward get a few minutes against Sheffield, but it is the midfield area where I mainly see the team looking for big games as it is the engine room of the team.

Can Harry get another special goal?
That means Andrew Surman and Harry Arter in particular. Surman has been a steady influence on the team this season and against Brighton, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday he was very consistent and a strong presence.While he has not forged a goal out for himself of late he may well be the player that puts away a crucial goal for the Cherries.

Harry Arter has been spectacular all season.While he has shown his frustration on occasion of late he has managed to slow the rate of yellow cards and he has been playing balls up the channels for Wilson with great regularity. Getting AFCB on the front foot is Harry's strength and as soon as he hit his big shot at the end of the first half against Chris Kirkland you sensed that that was it the Cherries will get going now.

So if Andrew and Harry can get on the ball and start influencing the game against Bolton early I am going to be expecting AFCB to come out on top in this vital game. The results on Saturday have given AFCB a tremendous opportunity to clinch promotion and I am really hoping that they can do it this next game.
Andrew Surman must help the team now.
Surman is the team's calming influence.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Have AFCB got the fight to win their last two games?

The past few days have been of reflection and anticipation ahead of two crunch games against Bolton and Charlton. While the Cherries would have been ecstatic with a win over Sheffield Wednesday which they were so close to getting, the shine was taken off the fact that they are now second favourites to go up, but still have earned a tremendous opportunity to reach the Premier League.

Adam Smith will be looking to make up for his
mistake in the Sheffield Wednesday match.
While both Bolton and Charlton will have their own reasons for trying to stop the Cherries those teams will know that they face a side that is going to leave no stone unturned in their attempt to get promotion automatically. If AFCB play to their full capability the wins will come and history will be made. The weight of the past probably does weigh heavily on the players knowing that the club has never been in such a position before and it will be incredible scenes if the team can do it. The players themselves will have huge rewards if they can fulfil their personal ambitions.

Trying to predict results has been a nightmare all season in the Championship but the Cherries have remained strong and in the frame for automatic promotion for a while, and the sudden realistion that a win against Bolton could land that prize is now dawning on fans who may still be a bit shell-shocked from Sheffield Wednesday's late equaliser last Saturday. Even now, Watford, Middlesbrough and Norwich are hoping that the Cherries fail at the last moment, but AFCB have never been in the top tier of English football and that is why romantics will be urging the underdogs to come through these final two tests. It is going to be exciting and uncertain, but the last week should have enabled the players to get a hold of the situation and be fully ready for that final push. Go on AFCB make some history for yourselves!

Final day drama is virtually guaranteed now

It was perhaps a bit annoying in some ways to know what the other teams would do before AFCB's match on Monday and before know what any of the results today (Saturday) we all know that the Cherries will have the chance to go up with two good results. The probability of the team needing points or at least a point at Charlton was pretty high as soon as they dropped points against Sheffield Wednesday, but while that may stop AFCB from picking up the title it does mean that those who managed to get Charlton tickets are going to have prime seats to see if AFCB can elipse the height that the club has managed in 125 years of football.
Cookie might be on the phone this weekend asking for some Brighton favours.
Luckily a few more fans will be able to enjoy that moment if it happens thanks to some extra tickets being gleaned from Charlton this week, but if Bolton get the better of the Cherries on Monday, and results go against them today, AFCB could be in fourth place and four points behind Watford by the time they meet the Addicks and the play-offs could be the direction that has to be taken.

Clearly Brighton are the team that can really do AFCB the greatest favours now and it is kind of strange in knowing that with the Seagulls one of the last teams that would probably want to help out their fellow seasiders along the coast. I suppose it is asking too much for Brighton to beat both Watford and Boro, but you never know and even a draw here and there could be very helpful to the Cherries' cause at the moment - I am sure that Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook might have slipped a word or two into their old mates' changing room. Millwall's defeat in midweek though to Blackburn has all but secured Brighton safety this season and we can only hope they want to please their fans with a home win and a brave show up at the Riverside.

Even if AFCB don't get any help along the way, there is bound to be some drama at The Valley and a lot of fans with their radio close to one ear, or mobile phones in their hands, as they keep tabs on what is happening elsewhere. For some supporters it will be despair on that final day but whatever happens with AFCB we should not heap anything but praise on the players for a fabulous season and if it comes to taking part in the play-offs then the Cherries have another chance to make it an even more incredible season if they are to have a special day at Wembley. That is not something that the fans or Eddie Howe and his team want at the moment though.

This ride could get bumpy, but I trust in Eddie Howe riding the last day of the season waves and taking this club to the Premier League. If it is not to be then we have still loved the experience of following a team that has given everything to try and get there. 

If you are brave enough to be watching or listening to how Brighton, Rotherham and Fulham get on today, make sure you prepare for the worst so that anything else is a bonus. UTCIAD!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Is Ritchie best on the left?

It has been noticeable in recent weeks that Matt Ritchie is spending almost as much time on the left wing as he does on the right. Matt is left footed and usually cuts in well on the right but perhaps teams have been getting wise to this and have been making it more difficult to get the space he wants on the right wing. Eddie Howe has switched things around a couple of times trying to get Matt more into the game on the left and against Sheffield Wednesday it resulted in a cross for Yann Kermorgant to score.
Is Matt doing better when he switches wings?
Marc Pugh has been the player who has not been managing 90 minutes on the wings of late and when Ritchie comes over to the left it usually means Adam Smith coming on in the right wing position. I know many of AFCB's players are adaptable and can play in many number of positions and we have even seen Matt at left back in the past, but when he plays on the left wing he does tend to cause lots of problems for the opposition.

I expect him to stay on the right side with Simon Francis out of the next game as it is important to keep some similar shape to the team. For many players though we don't see much difference when they switch wings but Matt comes alive when playing in front of the Main stand and perhaps that is something that has been noted by Eddie. As long as AFCB choose the Ted MacDougall stand to kick towards in the first half, by starting on the right and switching second half, Matt will always have the Main stand right at his side which seems to suit him.

Can Kenwyne make more of an impact?

I was pleased to see Kenwyne Jones feature more prominently for the Cherries against Sheffield Wednesday as I am sure he has more to give than his one goal against Ipswich. The interesting thing was that AFCB did not start slinging in loads of balls into the box just because Kenwyne was on the field, and with Yann Kermorgant clearly struggling a bit with a strain or slight pull it was certainly wise to get Kenwyne on as the more games he gets the easier he will feel to fit into the team.

There was a good interview with Kenwyne in the Matchday programme and it is clear that he is a giver and does not want any recognition for coming into the club at this late stage. For him it is about the experience and helping the team while learning something new from Eddie Howe and his training staff.
Would you want Kenwyne to be part of a Premier League Cherries' squad?
As a big man you don't see him racing through defences at the moment, but he may be able to show us more than the knockdowns and flick-ons and I am still waiting to see that cartwheel and back flip in real time. I do think it would be hard for Kenwyne to go back to Cardiff City having experienced what he has at AFCB and if he does make more of an impact in the next two games I would say there maybe a chance of him signing in the summer as he does have experience of playing in the Premier League. Watch this space!

Season Ticket needed
I know a lot of you will be queueing tomorrow for tickets for the Charlton game. I was contacted by Chris Parsons who is looking to get a ticket and wondered if any season ticket holders not using their card for the Charlton match might be able to get in contact with him on Twitter @snips1171

Meanwhile, it looks like the FA took a dim view of the comments made by Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall after teh Sheffield Wednesday match as both now face misconduct charges. 

Tommy Elphick's captaincy has been a tower of strength

You can't help but checking out Tommy Elphick's reaction whenever AFCB either concede or score a goal. He is the motivator without doubt in this team and he is always first to belt out exactly what he is feeling when words need to be said. There were a few words said on Saturday but it just shows how much he wants to win.
Tommy has the fire in his belly to be a winner.
I believe that this team has more players that are winners and are driven by being winners than any side I have seen over the years at Dean Court. They simply don't like being second best and even if they finish second in this league I bet there will be several of them, including Tommy Elphick, who will come out and say - we should have done better! But such enthusiasm to be first is no bad thing. It is not that the players are afraid of failing, but they see that they have come through the divisions and beaten the big names on their way up and now have the capacity to finish top of the pile.

It can only be a help to players to see Tommy Elphick not only giving them confidence with his words but also doing his bit on the field. There were a couple of examples of it last Saturday when he put in a well-timed tackle on Chris Maguie. Even better was his heroics on the line to stop an early chance from Kieran Lee. Tommy shouldn't want this season to end the way he is playing and he certainly will want everything from his team-mates in the remaining fixtures.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Cherries would add colour and entertainment to top tier

There will be those who look down on AFCB's charge up the leagues and frown about hearing how many tickets there will be available for away supporters for a Premier League fixture if that is where the Cherries are next season. What many will not know is that this Bournemouth team that would compete in the Premier League and not be simply an add-on to the fixture list. Eddie Howe may well not have fulfilled his full potential yet, just like this side of his and who is to say that he can't do what Nigel Clough did and take his team to further honours and even into Europe.

Could AFCB's players be running out Premier League grounds next season?
Impossible? Well, anything is possible at AFCB - you should know that by now. What we can say is that AFCB wouldn't fear being in a new league and will always take the game to the opposition no matter who they face. It's been that way for as long as I can remember and when we had the visit of Real Madrid I thought well the teams don't get any more frightening than this. AFCB know what levels they have to reach to be competitive in the top tier and it is simply another exciting challenge that hopefully lays ahead for Eddie and his staff.

It should not be a great surprise that AFCB are at this level though as the club has been run extremely well for the past few years and with such a stable footing and clear growth plan everyone has been on an upward trajectory which at some point was going to lead them to the Championship and perhaps beyond. The day might come a bit sooner than many would have forecast and yet if the club is better than the other 70 teams that are fighting to reach the top tier then those clubs have to recognise that AFCB have done some things right and better than them. You don't fluke your way to the top.

The kind of football that Eddie Howe plays though is something that I would look forward to against the bigger names in English football. AFCB pass and they pass well and it will be a delight to see the players keep possession against some great named teams. History does not stand still and AFCB can create new pages from here on in. I must confess I don't see a lot of Premier League football as lower league football is always where AFCB has been. It may come as more of a culture shock to some of us fans than it does to the club if things go write in the next two games. The club itself has been as professional as any club in recent years and it's ready to step up. Look out Match of the Day - you might not have seen anything quite like this south coast team before - we're on our way!