Classy midfielder Brian Stock progressed through the AFC Bournemouth youth ranks to make 172 appearances for the club between 2000 and 2006.
Handed his debut as an 18-year-old, he went on to play four times for Wales under-21s during his stay in Dorset and won three full caps after he had left.
Stock featured in the Cherries’ Division Three play-off final victory against Lincoln City at the Millennium Stadium in May 2003 and scored the first goal at the redeveloped Dean Court in November 2001, one of 19 for the club.
After leaving for Preston North End in January 2006, Stock reunited with Sean O’Driscoll at Doncaster Rovers 12 months later and captained them to victory in the 2008 League One play-off final against Leeds United at Wembley.
He subsequently played under Eddie Howe at Burnley before skippering Havant & Waterlooville as they won promotion to the National League under Lee Bradbury in 2018.
Currently lead coach to AFC Bournemouth under-14s, Stock takes a trip down memory lane with afcb.co.uk in our Bourne Legacy series.
How did you find your way to the AFC Bournemouth youth ranks?
I was scouted by West Brom while playing for a team in Portsmouth. I trained with them during half-terms and the youth team manager at the time was Richard O’Kelly.
He had a really good friendship with Sean O’Driscoll and that’s how the connection first came about. I was invited to have a trial at AFC Bournemouth and signed youth team forms almost straight away.
During my apprenticeship, the club decided to scrap the youth system and it was something everyone was panicking about. They said they were only going to take a couple of players, maybe three at most, and, fortunately, I was one of them.
Mel Machin was in charge at the time and Sean was the youth team manager.
I remember coming in one Monday morning to do my jobs and Willo telling me that Mel wanted to see me. He offered me a three-year pro deal with a two-year option and that was the start of it.
What can you remember about your debut as a substitute in a 3-1 defeat at Colchester in January 2000 and then your full debut in a 3-0 home win against Oldham?
I was meant to be playing for the youth team on the day of the Colchester game.
Wayne Smith, who was helping out with the youth team at the time, sent my mum and dad an email telling them not to bother going to the youth team game because I was in the first-team squad to play at Colchester.
That’s my biggest memory from that occasion and we’ve still got the email.
We weren’t really in the game when I came on at Colchester but it was great to get my first taste of first-team football.
Oldham was a really good day and I enjoyed the occasion. It’s always memorable making your full debut and mine was capped by the win.
You only made three appearances in the Jermain Defoe-inspired 2000/01 season. Why was that?
I’m comfortable enough to be brutally honest with this one.
As a young kid, you think you’ve already made it when you sign a three-year deal with a two-year option.
I moved back to Southampton, I wasn’t living properly, I was mixing with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble.
It needed Sean to grab me by the scruff of the neck and say ‘if you don’t start living by these rules and live like a monk, you are going to find yourself out of the door’.
That was probably the biggest turning point in my career.
I moved back to Bournemouth and ended up swapping my lads’ night out during the week for going to Bingo with Nimbus, my landlord. I wasn’t allowed out of my digs unless it was for Bingo.
Your first goal was a 90th-minute winner in a 3-2 victory over Bury in September 2001. What are your memories of that?
I remember it like it was yesterday. We were playing at Dorchester’s ground and were drawing 2-2. We hadn’t won a game at the start of the season.
I came off the bench and we had a free-kick. I don’t know how I managed to knock a few of the experienced pros off the ball but I took it, bent it over the wall and into the top corner. Or perhaps it was the middle of the goal!
Although I haven’t seen it back because it has probably been lost in the archives, it’s something that will always stay in my mind.
And perhaps more significantly, your opener in a 3-0 win against Wrexham two months later was the first at the redeveloped Dean Court. Tell us about that.
It didn’t really sink in until half-time when Peter Grant said jokingly ‘of all the people to score the first goal, it had to be Brian Stock’!
It was great work from Warren Feeney to run in behind, Derek Holmes dummied and I put it in the bottom corner.
Although the ground has changed names a few times, I hope people will still remember it as the first goal at the redeveloped stadium.
Your breakthrough season – 2001/02 – coincided with relegation. What was that experience like for a young player?
For me, it was bittersweet. I’ll never forget the last day of the season when we were relegated at Wrexham.
We started the game really well and took the lead through Carl Fletcher before two late goals did for us.
Notts County had needed to lose and we had needed to win to stay up. I’ll never forget the Wrexham fans goading us by shouting out that Notts County were winning.
It was a bad memory but, from a selfish point of view, it was my opportunity to play regular first-team football, learning from the likes of Carl Fletcher and Richard Hughes.
Although we were relegated, there were certain things going against us that season in terms of injuries and the club’s financial situation.
Peter Grant was once quoted as saying he thought you were either going to be a pub player or a Premier League player. What did you make of that?
We used to get on really well and he would put me on the straight and narrow with some of his comments. I had a lot of time for him.
In the end he was wrong because I was neither!
I knew what he was trying to say and he was on the right lines in terms of the way I had been living my life.
I think him and Sean both saw a talent in me and it was a case of whether I would ever realise my potential.
There were certain things they added to my game, more so with my attitude. They embedded that in me for the rest of my career which is why I kept playing until I was 36.
Now I’m a coach, I like to pass on to players just how important attitude is.
When I see kids who have a bit of a swagger or their reactions aren’t particularly good, it reminds me of the right and wrong behaviour required to succeed.
Is it fair to say winning four under-21 caps was a rare occurrence for an AFC Bournemouth player in those days?
Obviously, I’m not from Wales, my nan was and I’d like to think I represented well where she was from.
Realistically, you look at your chances of playing for England and know they are very slim so it was a great opportunity for me to build up my reputation and CV.
When you play for the under-21s, you want to go on to win caps at senior level and I’m really proud to have played international football.
I was pleased for myself and please the club received some recognition. It is something I look back on with fond memories.
What are your recollections of the 2002/03 promotion season and coming off the bench in the play-off final against Lincoln?
I remember Warren Cummings got injured in training and I was preparing to start the game.
Warren was an important player for us and we did everything to make sure he played. He had an injection and was declared fit to start so I was on the bench.
The biggest thing for me was that Sean put me on in the second half. I didn’t think the game dictated that I could have made a massive difference so I will always be grateful to him for that.
Winning the final was a special occasion and it was a nice opportunity to spend it with the family as well.
How big a part did Sean O’Driscoll play in your career?
When I look back on my career, I probably played 90 per cent of my games under him.
Now I’m starting out in coaching, I look back from day one as to how he liked players to take responsibility. That has been instilled in me to this day.
He wanted players to think. He didn’t necessarily give us all the answers, he wanted us to find the solutions.
It might have been something like trying to unlock a formation. He always said he wanted us to take responsibility.
He was ahead of his time. He thought about the game in a different way to other coaches. Some of the things he used to get us to do and practice, you would question.
But after the game or the training session, you would analyse it and think ‘oh my word, he is so right’.
He is a very clever coach, a mentor to me and someone I have a lot of respect for and still keep in contact with.
The following three seasons were a mixed bag for the club but you really made a mark and earned your move to Preston in January 2006. Tell us about that.
It was a difficult time for the club. As players, we didn’t know whether we were going to get paid at the end of the month. I was young, I had a mortgage to pay and sometimes you weren’t too sure whether it would be paid on time.
I was having a birthday meal on Christmas Eve and Sean phoned me. He said Nottingham Forest had tabled a bid of £150,000 for me. He said the offer would reduce by £5,000 for every day the club didn’t accept.
Everyone knew the situation the club was in financially so they utilised it to try to get the best deal they could.
On the day I signed for Preston, I could have gone to either Forest or Swansea as well. Although it probably wasn’t done in the best way, the deal had to be done.
I know Sean wasn’t too impressed with the timing because it happened on a Friday before a game. He was frustrated with that but nobody from the club stood in my way.
My debut for Preston couldn’t have gone any better but I made sure I came back on the Monday morning to shake hands and thank everyone.