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Club news

Six years on...Bolton revisited


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

“I reckon we could play that game a million times and we would never lose it.”

Those were the words of history-making AFC Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick as he looked back on the day the Cherries effectively clinched promotion to the Premier League.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the unforgettable 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Vitality Stadium which all but secured the Cherries a place in the top flight for the first time.

Goals from Marc Pugh, Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson saw Eddie Howe’s team go three points and 19 goals clear in second place with just one game of the season remaining.

Elphick, who also skippered the Cherries to promotion from League One in 2012/13, told afcb.co.uk: “There wasn’t as much pressure on us to go up that season as there had been in 2012/13 and I had every confidence we would get the job done.

“All the other teams had played on the Saturday and we played on the Monday night. I think that played into our hands because we had such a cool customer in the manager.

“After we had trained on the Friday, he told us to try to switch off and not to take too much notice of what was going on elsewhere.

“He told us not to waste energy trying to control something we couldn’t control. He said he wanted us ready to train on the Sunday and to play out our hearts on the Monday to show everyone why we deserved to go up.

“Everybody did their own thing on the Saturday and I went for lunch in the New Forest with my fiancée.

“It’s easy to get caught up with what’s going on elsewhere and you can lose sight of what you need to do so I thought it was important to take myself away.

“I turned off my phone for the afternoon and turned it back on about five o’clock and the messages were pinging!

“Fulham’s win over Middlesbrough meant we could all but secure promotion if we could beat Bolton.

“Everybody was buzzing in training on the Sunday and the game couldn’t come quickly enough.

“I reckon we could play that game a million times and we would never lose it.

“How we had been drilled over the season and the trust everyone had in the manager, we were so geared up for a game like that.”

Elphick, ever present at the heart of defence alongside Steve Cook, added: “My clearest memory of my whole career at Bournemouth comes from that game.

“The energy from the supporters was palpable, there was a media frenzy and a massive buzz around the ground ahead of kick-off. Everyone was bang on it.

“It was 0-0 and I just felt we were trying to do things too quickly. We were going a bit faster than we needed to and needed to relax.

“Someone passed the ball to me and I just put my foot on it and screamed at the top of my voice for everyone to calm down. I remember it as clear as day.

“We dropped it down a gear and went into auto pilot. After that, we just blew away another team like we had been doing all season.

“It was testament to the group and the management staff. We needed to chill a little, enjoy it and just play the way we had all season.

“The league was so competitive and Bolton had some great players but we just brushed them aside. It was an absolute privilege to play in that team and a great honour to be the captain.”

Pugh calmed any nerves in the Cherries camp when he drew first blood six minutes before half-time and second-half efforts from Ritchie and Wilson set the Champagne corks popping.

“There are always nerves going into games like those,” said Pugh. “The draw against Sheffield Wednesday put a bit of pressure on us going into the Bolton game.

“Matty Ritchie crossed the ball and I was up against Feens (Liam Feeney). He probably knew I was going to try to chop him but sometimes people know what you’re going to do but can’t stop it.

“I found the corner with my left foot, my swinger, and after we had scored the first goal, we knew there would be no way back for them.

“It was an amazing night and we had a great night out. Of course, we wanted to win the title but everybody went into town, the fans were buzzing and the celebrations will live long in the memory.

“The Championship is a formidable division and to come out of it with so many good teams in there was what dreams are made of. It was by far the most important season I had as a player.”

Midfielder Harry Arter was another key player in the Championship-winning promotion campaign and he scored in a 3-0 victory against his former club Charlton as the title was secured five days after the Bolton game.

Arter said: “To win the Bolton game 3-0 with so much control and with so much riding on it showed what the team was all about.

“We celebrated in the town that night and Eddie gave us the Tuesday off. But come the Wednesday morning it was like we hadn’t as good as been promoted.

“The way the manager was on to us about training well, it was more like the fifth game of the season or we were fighting to stay up. You could see he was desperate to win the league and that rubbed off on us.

“I think some of us had accepted that we probably wouldn’t win the title because Watford were in the driving seat but the manager was having none of it. That’s what made us so successful in the Premier League in the following years.

“We went to Charlton and put on a show for our supporters. The quality showed we deserved to be in the Premier League.

“It was a fairytale for me to go back to the club that released me as a kid and to score and for us to go up as champions. You couldn’t write it.

“If I could bottle and save that week and relive it in the future, I know I would always have something special to look forward to.”

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