Monday, 18 June 2018

Dean Court Days - Boro game set new attendance record for Cherries

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Carrying on our selection of exerts from Michael Dunne's Dean Court Days, our next item takes us up to 1987 when Bournemouth had a top of the table clash with Middlesbrough - it was an all or nothing contest for Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp's side bounced back from a bruising defeat at Bristol City winning their next five games to consolidate their position at the summit of the Third Division. The undoubted highlight of this run of victories came in the game on Tuesday 3 March 1987 against second-placed Middlesbrough. The heavyweight clash pitted the side with the best home record against the team with the best away record and, despite almost a third of the season’s fixtures still to play, it felt like a winner- takes-all encounter.

Redknapp was in no mood to play down the fixture, his raw emotion seeing him encourage the Dean Court crowd to spur their heroes on to greater heights. ‘I want the place to erupt when we run out on to the field,’ he said. ‘We want noise for all the 90 minutes; we want to raise the roof.’

He was not to be disappointed. In the days when few matches were all ticket, Brian Tiler predicted a crowd of around 10,000. Come the kick-off, upwards of 14,000 fans arrived to set a new record for an evening fixture at Dean Court. With car parks full, King’s Park became an impromptu car park, fans abandoning their cars on grass playing fields in what proved to be the correct assumption that everyday regulations would be waived as a matter of crowd control.

With his rallying cry emphatically answered by the faithful, Redknapp guided his team to a thrilling victory to match the sense of occasion. Towards the end of a frantic first half, future England and Manchester United centre-half Gary Pallister sustained a nasty gash on his leg in a challenge with Trevor Aylott. Pallister was replaced by winger Stuart Ripley, meaning the key defensive partnership of Pallister and Tony Mowbray was broken, giving the Cherries an opportunity to strike for all three points.


Seven minutes after the break, Mark Newson headed the opener following a well-worked set piece. Benignly chaotic celebrations on the terraces had barely died down when Boro equalised from the kick-off. Hesitation between Newson and Gerry Peyton allowed the prolific Bernie Slaven to latch on to a through ball and slot home from two yards. The away side’s tails were up, but Redknapp’s team rode the storm for almost 20 minutes before taking a lead they would not relinquish. A sweeping move from defence saw Trevor Aylott delicately lay the ball into the path of the onrushing Sean O’Driscoll who fired home off the underside of the crossbar from 15 yards. Bournemouth made it three just five minutes later when Aylott converted the penalty he had won after referee Keith Cooper adjudged Boro captain Mowbray to have pushed the powerful target man.

Once the ecstatic scenes at the final whistle had abated, the league table made very happy reading indeed for Harry. His team were now six points clear going into the business end of the

season, and the Bournemouth manager heaped praise upon the supporters’ impact on the result. ‘The ground is still buzzing,' he enthused. 'Things like that happen when you get a crowd like that, and it made a huge difference to the players. We are looking for the top spot. The players believe they can do it. They believe they are as good as anyone in the division.’

Even today, Harry looks back on the victory proudly. 'Look at that Middlesbrough team that year,' he says. 'What a strong team that was. They had Gary Pallister, Tony Mowbray, Bernie Slaven. We did fantastic to beat them.'

It wasn't just points the players stood to gain from beating Middlesbrough. Paul Morrell, who spent the evening keeping the likes of Ripley and Slaven at bay, recalls Redknapp motivating his squad with the prospect of modest material gains. 'The guy who owned Simone's, a leather shop in Bournemouth, was at a sportsman's dinner a few days before the Middlesbrough game,' says Morrell. 'He went up to Harry and he said, "Your boys aren't going to go up this year." Harry said, "You want a bet?" The guy was so confident he bet a leather bomber jacket for each player if we went up. At the end of the season, he had to fork out for 16 of them.'

You can order a copy of Dean Court Days on Amazon

Dean Court Days- get a signed copy!
I other news, Michael Dunne is holding a signing day for Dean Court Days on Saturday 23 June between 1-3pm at In off the far post, 901 Old Christchurch Road, in Pokesdown BH7 6AX. Richard Cooke and Paul Morrell are also popping in to sign a few copies of the book.

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1 comment:

  1. Remember that evening well. What a great atmosphere. Never heard DC like that before or since. I also remember losing my voice for 2 days after singing & shouting so much!