Midfielder Ian Bishop talks about his time with AFC Bournemouth, amounting to just one season but a sizable impact.
This article was due to appear in MATCHDAY, the club's programme, for the postponed match with Crystal Palace last weekend, with Bishop visiting from his home in Florida and due to make his first return to Dean Court for the match.
Ian Bishop may have only played one season for AFC Bournemouth but he certainly made a lasting impression.
The gifted midfielder was a hugely popular figure among Cherries supporters during the 1988/89 season.
His exploits helped the team to 12th place in the second flight, the club’s highest finish before the Eddie Howe era.
Bishop was rescued from the footballing scrapheap by Harry Redknapp, who snapped him up for a bargain £35,000 from Carlisle in July 1988.
He had suffered back-to-back relegations with the Cumbrians and finished 91st in the Football League with them in 1987/88.
Liverpool-born Bishop started his career with Everton before going on to enjoy successful spells at Manchester City and West Ham.
How did your move to AFC Bournemouth come about?
My contract had run out at Carlisle and Harry had been monitoring the situation, knowing it would probably go to a tribunal.
He invited me down for the weekend and I met him and the late Brian Tiler. After speaking to them, I knew I was going to be happy here and we did the deal.
Harry asked me not to go back to speak to my manager at Carlisle but I couldn’t do that. I had shaken Harry’s hand and said I would be coming.
I met Clive Middlemass, my manager at Carlisle, and he said Bradford wanted me and would probably offer me more money than Bournemouth.
I said I’d given Harry my word and wouldn’t be going back on it. I think Harry offered £10,000 and Carlisle wanted £200,000. A tribunal ended up setting the fee at £35,000.
Finally made it back but beaten by the virus 🍒 pic.twitter.com/lWMyBJe0Cl— Ian Bishop (@BishBlueHammer) March 14, 2020
What were your first impressions of the club and Division Two?
Mark Newson and John Williams were the first two people I met and I knew straightaway I would get on with them!
We had a good squad of players and the club was on the up. The team had momentum under Harry, they had consolidated after winning promotion in 1987 and we were looking to see how far we could go.
There were some big teams in Division Two at the time. I remember playing Sunderland, Chelsea and Leeds in our first few games.
For me, it was just great to be back playing at that level and I felt like that was where I belonged but I didn’t kid myself. I had come from Division Four and was living in the real world.
How important was Harry Redknapp in your career?
Harry resurrected my career. He gave me the freedom to play and would just tell me to go out and do my stuff. There were no particular orders or rules for me.
That season put me back in the window and for Harry to give me the chance to play on that stage again was great. I loved playing there and it was the springboard for me.
Harry heaped a lot of praise on me during the season. I know how much he valued me and he was pushing me to play for England. When you see and hear things like that from your manager, it lifts you.
I will always be grateful to Harry for what he did for me during my time at Bournemouth.
What are your memories of the 1988/89 season?
We had a good team and some great players like Mark Newson, Gerry Peyton, Trevor Aylott, Sean O’Driscoll, Luther Blissett, Shaun Brooks and Paul Morrell.
It was a footballing side and even the likes of Big Willo had more ability than people gave him credit for. People thought he was just a big lump who won headers.
But people like him and Kevin Bond wanted to get on the ball and give it to you, they wanted you to have it.
We started the season fairly well and maybe surprised ourselves a little. But after about ten games, we started believing we belonged there.
We ended up looking back on the season and thinking we should have made the play-offs. We didn’t over-achieve and were disappointed in the end.
And what are your memories of the epic 3-3 draw against Manchester City at Maine Road?
They had a team packed with quality players and were going for promotion. I seem to remember they would have gone up that day had they beaten us.
They were 3-0 up at half-time and you could almost hear the champagne corks popping in the home dressing room!
I know strange things can happen in football matches but I think I would have started celebrating if the boot had been on the other foot.
But we had outplayed them in the first half and I don’t know how we were 3-0 down. We went out with a nothing-to-lose attitude in the second half and it paid off.
We showed we didn’t fear any team. We dominated them in the second half and showed we were good enough as a squad and as a team.
I remember there being some long faces in the City camp at the final whistle but they won promotion in the end.
Did manage to catch up with Dr Evil and mini me. 😂great day out with Willo and little Charlie Cook 🍒can’t believe it’s been over 30 years. pic.twitter.com/gk0Mxxq7Ul— Ian Bishop (@BishBlueHammer) March 14, 2020
Even though you only spent one season here, you were hugely popular – can you put your finger on why?
I honestly don’t know but it’s great to have and I’m a lucky person.
I don’t know what it was. I just enjoyed playing football and played a similar way to the way they play today. I think I was that type of player and Bournemouth supporters appreciated that.
I haven’t been to a game since I left and am really looking forward to coming back.
I always watch when they are on the television in America so it will be great to see a game from the stands.
Was it a difficult decision to leave and join Manchester City?
Yes and no.
Even though we were disappointed not to finish higher, we had a good season, the best in the club’s history at the time.
I was enjoying my football and really liked playing under Harry. I made some good friends and absolutely loved living in the area.
For it only to be one season and the sadness I felt at having to leave showed what the club had done for me and the affection I had for it.
But I started my career with Everton when they were in the top flight and always wanted to get back to that level.
City had just been promoted to what is now the Championship and I thought they would perhaps give me a better chance of doing that.
Although it didn’t work out as I had wanted in my first spell, I moved to West Ham and went on to play in the Premier League so I achieved what I had always set out to do.