If they were handing out awards for performances in AFC Bournemouth’s new documentary, Brett Pitman would surely receive an Oscar.
Minus 17 – which is now available to watch free of charge on afcbTV – chronicles the club’s remarkable escape from relegation from the Football League in 2008/09.
And striker Pitman played one of the leading roles as rookie boss Eddie Howe produced and directed a box office smash which will live long in the memory.
Pitman’s career appeared at a crossroads, the Jerseyman having failed to nail down a regular starting berth under previous manager Jimmy Quinn.
However, once Howe had replaced Quinn, Pitman never looked back and his 13 goals proved vital as the Cherries pulled off what had seemed a mission impossible at the turn of the year.
Former teammate Warren Cummings, who is still a close friend of Pitman, told afcb.co.uk: “It’s funny how things work out. Had Jimmy Quinn stayed in charge, I’m not sure Brett’s future would have been at this club.
“He hadn’t done particularly well under Jimmy and had just been sent off in an FA Cup game against Blyth Spartans, a hugely-important match for the club financially.
“But Eddie took over and knew Brett really well. He knew what made him tick and it worked out perfectly.
“He was pivotal that season. Without his goals, we probably would have been relegated by some distance and the club might not have been here today. His importance was that great.
“Ultimately, if you look at how individual players can help a football club, I’m not sure there are many who have done more for this club than Brett Pitman.
“His goals kept us up, took us up and took us up again. He scored freely in League Two, League One and the Championship.
“He’s been an immensely important player for this football club. He’s a very talented player and I’m fortunate to have him as a friend.”
Pitman first joined the Cherries as a 15-year-old when he was taken on by Joe Roach following a successful trial and he netted a hatful of goals for the youth team.
He signed his first pro contract in July 2006 and was used sparingly by Sean O’Driscoll, Kevin Bond and Quinn, with most of his appearances coming from the bench.
Pitman blossomed under Howe, scoring the Cherries’ first goal of his permanent reign – a stunner during a 3-1 win over League Two leaders Wycombe – and was ever present as he registered 28 goals to spearhead the club’s promotion to League One in 2010.
Crowned supporters’ player of the year in 2009/10, he re-joined the club in November 2012 following a spell with Bristol City and again finished as leading scorer as the Cherries clinched a place in the Championship.
Pitman, whose 96 goals make him the club’s fourth all-time leading league marksmen, contributed 13 valuable efforts as the Cherries won an historic first promotion to the top flight before he left for Ipswich and then Portsmouth.
Cummings added: “Brett came through the youth team under Joe Roach’s guidance. He has always been a very talented boy and was very shy when he was younger.
“When he first got brought into the first-team circle, it was difficult. When there are senior professionals, it’s always difficult for a young lad to come into that environment and stand his ground.
“He received his fair share of banter and, being a senior player at that time, I took him under my wing. Being Brett, he suddenly thought he had the run of the show and gave as good as he got at a very young age!
“He has always had a really strong mentality. As with most strikers, he’s got that ruthless selfishness about him. He’s hungry to score goals and isn’t happy if he doesn’t score.
“While that’s selfish, it worked out perfectly for this football club because that was what he needed to be and that’s what has always made him tick. He just wants to get the ball in the back of the net and has done that brilliantly throughout his career.
“He’s very driven. From a young age, he always wanted to improve. He got a good move away from Bournemouth to Bristol City at the time and got a good move back to Bournemouth after Eddie had returned. He’s had a super career which is testament to his ability and character.”
Pitman is the only Cherries player to score a hat-trick for the club in all three tiers of the Football League and won the golden boot on three occasions – 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2012/13.
Cummings continued: “He can be a sulky character at times but he’s quite timid. He’s not expressive and is never going to be the loudest person in the room.
“He likes what he likes and is one of those people who, if you don’t know him, he may come across as rude but that’s just his shyness.
“He’s not overly comfortable around new people but, once you get into his circle, he’s very welcoming and very trustworthy.
“His body language doesn’t always transmit as someone who looks like he cares that much but that couldn’t further from the truth. He cares more about football as much as any other person I’ve played with.
“At times, he did give off that impression but, ultimately, his goals told you what he was all about and that probably showed how much he cared.”
During his downtime, Pitman, who last month captained Portsmouth to Checkatrade Trophy glory at Wembley, returns to Vitality Stadium and Canford Arena to watch the first team, under-21s and under-18s.
“He loves the football club and it’s in his blood,” said Cummings. “He still has a number of great friends here.
“I know Eddie admires him hugely and I’m sure Eddie would say how much Brett has meant to him in his career. When Eddie took over as manager, Brett was his boy and Eddie looked out for him.
“They have been through a lot together and that’s why Brett knows he’s welcome back here any time and rightly so.
“He’s a legend of this football club.”
Minus 17 gives supporters a fresh insight into one of the club’s most memorable seasons, a period which provided the launchpad for the Cherries’ rapid ascent to the Premier League.
It includes exclusive interviews with a host of the personalities involved – Pitman and Cummings among them – and was shown to an invited audience for the first time on Wednesday 24th April.
The documentary, which includes unseen footage from the club archive together with the celebrations from the dressing room following the Grimsby win, is now available to watch on afcvTV, the club’s online video channel.