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The Journey: Jason Pearce reflects back on four topsy-turvy seasons at Dean Court

Jason Pearce dribbles the ball forward.

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

afcb.co.uk has been speaking to some of the key figures in AFC Bournemouth's rise from League Two to the Premier League, including fans' favourite and skipper Jason Pearce.

It was a difficult decision to leave Portsmouth. Harry Redknapp pulled me into the changing room and said, ‘Bournemouth have come in for you and I think it will be great for your career’. He told me to go there, play games and build my career - and that’s what I did.

We were relegated in my first season, but only because of a points deduction. It was a disappointing start to life at the club, but obviously going down a league gave me a better chance to stake my claim for a place in the first team.

Starting the next season on minus 17 points was terrible. We didn’t have much of a chance, but we had young, hungry players and we knew we could give it a good go.

I knew Eddie well before he became manager. I used to do a lot of work with him, he used to help me with my defending and did a lot of coaching. Everyone was pleased when he got the opportunity to manage the side.

I think a few of the lads were shocked by how ruthless Eddie was. People didn’t think he had it in him because when you speak to him he comes across as such a nice guy. He’s got that streak in him that you need to be a manager and he had to be ruthless to take the club where it needed to go. 

Eddie is all about team bonding, team ethics and everyone working for each other. Training was top notch and everyone had to be on top form otherwise he’d stop the session and have a go at you.

It was obviously written in the stars for Big Fletch to score the winning goal to keep us up. I saw a video recently where he says he thinks about it every day; I am not sure that’s quite true, but it was an unbelievable moment. 

The next season we kept the core of the team together and we knew we were good enough to get out of that league. With Eddie in charge we went from strength to strength and had a great year.

Eddie pulled me to one side and asked me to be captain that season. For him to show so much belief in me at such a young age was a massive privilege and honour - I thank him for that. Hopefully I repaid him with my performances. 

The season afterwards we wanted to go up again. As a squad we were getting older, I think I was 23 or 24, and I wanted to play in the Championship. I think a lot of the other lads felt that way as well.

We didn’t want Eddie to go when he did. I spoke to him personally to ask him to stay, but it was obviously an opportunity that he couldn’t turn down. We were massively disappointed. 

Lee Bradbury was appointed manager and we managed to get into the play-offs. After all these years, I have only just deleted the Huddersfield game from my Sky+ box! 

I still, to this day, don’t think it was a sending off. I don’t think it changed the game much because it was in extra time, and ultimately we drew 3-3 and lost on penalties. But still, in my head, I think things could have been different if I had stayed on the pitch. 

Portsmouth and Burnley came in for me that summer. In a way I wanted to stay at Bournemouth, and they offered me a new contract, but at that stage of your career you just want to play at the highest level you can.

There could be some players who left that might look at Bournemouth now and be jealous. I look at it and I’m delighted for the club, the fans and everyone associated that they are in the Premier League. If they’re ever on Sky Sports or Match of the Day I can’t wait to see how they get on. 

I would love to come back to the club in some capacity. As a family we’d like to live near Bournemouth, we love the area and if the opportunity arose, whether it was playing or coaching, I would love to move back.


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