The Early Years
The present football club can trace its roots as far back as 1890 when Boscombe St. Johns Institute Football Club were playing in local football. They disbanded in 1899 and from the remains of that club, Boscombe FC were formed at a meeting under the streetlights in Gladstone Road, Boscombe.
The Club competed in the Bournemouth and District Junior League playing at a ground in Castlemain Avenue, Pokesdown. They moved to Kings Park, adjacent to the current stadium in 1902 and were soon emerging as the top team in the town.
After enjoying many local successes, they joined the Hampshire League and were attracting large crowds. In 1910, Mr. J.E. Cooper-Dean granted the club on a long lease some wasteland next to Kings Park.
With their own ground, named Dean Court after the benefactor, the club continued to thrive and dominated the local football scene.
It was around this time that the club gained the nickname, 'The Cherries'. There are two main stories on to why the club would be called such a name. Firstly the Cherry Red striped shirts the side wore and secondly, Dean Court was built next to the Cooper-Dean estate which included many Cherry Orchards.
The club signed their first professional player in 1910, B.Penton, who signed from Southampton for a £10 fee. The club then moved in to the South Eastern League but this proved to be a big leap and the side finished bottom of the table.
With the outbreak of war in 1914, the progress of the club was halted and they returned to the Hampshire league in 1919. The club was ambitious and when the Third Division was formed in 1920, they moved up to the highly competitive Southern League as many clubs in that league went on to form the Third Division.
After three years in the Southern League, the club applied for membership of the Football League. The application was accepted and Boscombe would be playing in the Third Division (South) in the 1923-24 season.
Bournemouth and Boscombe
At the public house where the side used to change before matches, The Portman Hotel, a meeting decided that the club would change its name to 'Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic Football Club'. The first ever league match was at Swindon on 25 August 1923 at Swindon where Bournemouth lost 3-1. The first ever league game at Dean Court was also against Swindon and it was against these opponents that Bournemouth gained their first ever league point in a 0-0 draw.
Bournemouth struggled initially in the Football League, but firmly established themselves as a Third Division side and they still hold the record for the longest continuous membership of the Division.
As a league club, they had to wait until after the war for their first trophy. That came when Walsall were beaten at Stamford Bridge in the Third Division (South) Cup.
The Cup Run of 1956-57
The Cherries finally hit the headlines in the 1956-57 season after a fabulous run in the FA Cup despite being handed some of the hardest draws imaginable. After beating Burton Albion, Swindon and Accrington Stanley, they were drawn away to Wolves, then third in the top flight. An amazing 1-0 win saw Bournemouth earn a home tie against Spurs, then the second side in the First Division.
A stunning performance saw Bournemouth win through 3-1 and were then handed a home tie against Manchester United - the top side in the country! The dream ended there in controversial circumstances. United won 2-1 in front of a record 28,799 crowd at Dean Court through a goal that looked offside and a questionable penalty. Despite the defeat, Bournemouth grabbed the nations imaginations and were awarded 'The Giant Killers Cup'.
The 1970s & The Bond Years
Hopes were high for success but the cup run was not built on and in 1970, the side slipped to Division Four. Relegation proved to be a blessing in disguise and the club entered an exciting few years. Under John Bond, the side won promotion for the first time and he built up a side that were a joy to watch.
Ted MacDougall was the hero with players such as Phil Boyer and Mel Machin supplying 'SuperMac' with chance after chance. MacDougall scored 49 goals in the 70-71 season and in the following campaign, he put nine past Margate in the 11-0 FA Cup win.
With a change of name to 'AFC Bournemouth', the club looked for success and Bond wished to be a first division manger at Dean Court. Unfortunately, MacDougall left for Manchester United after the side had finished third in Division Three at a time when only two clubs went up. Bond himself left for Norwich with many players following him and the 20,000+ crowds disappeared quickly and the club was left deep in debt and struggling on the field.
Relegation came in 1975 and a depressing few years followed in Division Four with crowds rarely over 3,000 and mid-table was all that could be hoped for. The arrival of Alec Stock as manager installed pride back in the club and it was at that time that David Webb was offered a chance in to the management side of football. He put together a good side which won promotion in 1982.
The 1980s and Our Harry
After Webb was dismissed, the club seemed to be heading back to the dark days of Division Four under Don Megson, but the appointment of Harry Redknapp was to change the club. His early finest hour came when cup holder Manchester United were beaten by second from bottom Bournemouth in the 3rd round of the FA Cup on 7 January 1984.
A man with an eye for a bargain transformed Bournemouth into a tremendous team and the club had won the Associate Members Cup at Hull, established a 97 point record in the 1986-87 season to lift the Division Three Championship.
There were three dramatic season in the higher division. After a difficult first season, 12th place was gained in the 1988-89 season, the clubs best ever, and also the fifth round of the FA Cup was reached.
Injuries decimated the squad the following season and after the play-offs had been discussed as late in the season as February, a poor run when the entire defence were out injured saw the side relegated on the final day of the season with that fateful match against Leeds at Dean Court.
The 1990s: Survival & Splender
Failure to reach the play-offs during the next two seasons saw Harry Redknapp retire from football, although he was soon back with West Ham. Tony Pulis took over, but by then the club was in a terrible financial mess and Pulis had little money to spend. Pulis left just before the start of the 1994-95 season and with no manager and a bare bones squad, the Cherries lost all of their first seven games.
Mel Machin then came in and after the side had gained just 9 points by Christmas, there was little hope of avoiding the drop. However, some great signings and inspirational leadership by Machin saw the side achieve 'The Great Escape'.
Behind the scenes, the financial worries were always there and these came to a head in late 1996, early 1997. The receivers were called in and the future looked bleak as the extent of the mess was revealed.
Supporters rallied and a trust fund was set up with thousands pouring in. Despite the support, Bournemouth were 15 minutes from closing down at one stage. With no benefactor to step in, present Chairman Trevor Watkins, then in charge of the Trust Committee announced that the trust fund was going to bid to take the club over.
This was ultimately successful and Europe's first ever community Club was formed. The opening game of the 1997-98 season at Northampton, the clubs 3001st league match was one of great celebration of a dream come true.
If the Cherries had won no games whatsoever during the 1997-98 season, it would really not have mattered too much. The mere fact that the club was there was what mattered. It turned out to be an incredible season. The play offs were just missed and Wembley was reached in the Auto Windscreens Shield. 34,000 Bournemouth supporters travelled to Wembley - an incredible achievement for a club so close to closing down just a year before.
The 1998-99 season saw many of the young players come to the fore and with larger crowds than in many years, the side played some exceptional football and looked certain to reach the play offs but despite reaching 76 points, the side finished seventh and incredibly missed out on the end of season shake up.
2000 - A NEW ERA
Record appearance maker Sean O'Driscoll took over as first team manager in 2000. And by the end of his first season in charge, he had led the side from the bottom of the table to the in-form team in the UK.
They narrowly missed out on the play-offs when Reading equalized with just two minutes left to deny the Cherries a chance of a shot at Division One - a superb achievement for a manager who has never had any money to buy a player.
On Saturday 28 April 2001, the Cherries moved out of Dean Court to set up a temporary at Dorchester's Avenue Stadium whilst a new stadium is built partially on the site of the old ground, with the pitch turned by 90 degree's.
The 2001/2002 season proved to be a defining season for the Cherries in more ways than one. The temporary stay at Dorchester came to a 4-2 winning end against Notts County after being 2-0 down. On November 10th 2001, Bournemouth returned to the now named Fitness First Stadium at Dean Court and how! Local lad Brian Stock became the first ever player to score at the new ground and his goal was added to by great strikes from James Hayter and Jason Tindall. It was a bridge too far for the youngest Cherries side in history though. Just three more wins followed after the stadium christening and relegation to the third division was cast on the final day at Wrexham.
Cherries kept faith with Sean O'Driscoll and he led the team to promotion at the first attempt culminating in a terrific 5-2 victory over Lincoln City at The Millennium Stadium.
Sean O'Driscoll left the Cherries after twenty-two years service to the club and became Manager of Doncaster Rovers. Kevin Bond took charge late in 2006 and steered the club to League One survival with player of the year and former England International Darren Anderton playing a key role.
The 07-08 season though saw the club struggle from the start and were foot of the table. A brief rise was short lived as the financial problems saw the club enter administration and receive a ten point deduction. With a handful of games left and 14 points from safety, the side put in a fantastic run and so nearly preserved their league 1 status, only to be thwarted in the final game of the season away at Carlisle with over 1,700 Cherries supporters making the trip to see the 1-1 draw.
The club finally came out of administration at the start of the 2008-09 season under the new owenership of Paul Baker and Sport-6. They were saddled with another points deduction, this time 17. Kevin Bond lasted for four games, but poor performances saw him replaced by Jimmy Quinn in September 2008 with Jason Tindall as his assistant.
Under Quinn, the team still struggled to come to terms on the pitch and after 20 games in charge, he was replaced on New Years Eve by Eddie Howe. Eddie was initially taken on in a caretaker role, before being given the job until the end of the season.
The only way that the side could hope to stay up was to show promotion form. Big Steve Fletcher returned to the club as one of Howe's first signings and that proved pivitol. 11 wins after Fletch returned saw the side preserve their league status and fittingly, it was Fletcher who scored the winning goal in the vital match against Grimsby, his 100th league goal in his 702nd professional appearance. The side then completed the remarkable turnaround with an emphatic 4-0 win at Morecambe on the final day of the season.
Promotion against the odds
The 2009-10 season started with Eddie Mitchell coming in as the new Chairman at the club. He inherited legacy debts, but through sheer hard work, reduced these as the club stood on it's own two feet. Despite all that work, Eddie Howe had to work under the constraints of a player embargo. With a squad of just 19 players and no loan players, apart frpom the returning Rhoys Wiggins, the side enjoyed their best ever start to a league season and kept up the fine form throughout the campaign and at a glorious day at Burton, gained promotion, finally finishing in second place against all the odds.
Despite losing Brett Pitman early in the season and then Josh McQuoid, the Cherries became the surprise package in League 1 in the 2010-11 season. Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall left for Burnley in January 2011 with Lee Bradbury and Steve Fletcher taking over, and they took the side in to the League 1 Play Offs for the first time after the side finished 6th. The Cherries had two epic encounters with Huddersfield with the second leg hailed as one of the greatest play-off matches ever seen. The 3-3 draw made it 4-4 on aggregate before the Cherries suffered the heartbreak of going out on penalties,
The 2011-12 season could be seen as one of transition as the majority of the successful squad left for pastures new. The club had the boost of Max Demin coming in to become a major shareholder. Lee Bradbury was replaced with seven games to go after a run of disappointing results, Paul Groves stepping in as a caretaker, with that position being made permanent in the summer of 2012.