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Features

Bourne Legacy: John Impey

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

As we remember the promotion of 1981/82, centre-back John Impey talks about his time with the club.

John Impey skippered AFC Bournemouth to promotion from the bottom tier of the Football League in 1981/82, the first season three points for a win had been introduced.

An England youth international, the combative central defender joined the club from Cardiff City following relegation from division three in 1974/75.

Impey went on to play more than 300 games for the cherries and remains the club’s 11th-highest league appearance-maker.

Now a successful property developer and landlord in Torquay, his picture adorns the AFC Bournemouth wall of fame behind the east stand at Vitality Stadium.

This article was originally published in the Norwich City edition of the club's MATCHDAY programme this season.

WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF YOUR EARLY DAYS AT DEAN COURT?

John Benson and Fred Davies were in charge and signed me when I was 21. I was just starting to make my way in the game and had to be patient.

At the time, Neil Hague and Stuart Morgan were the first-choice central-defensive partnership so I was in and out of the team to start with.

I know John Benson thought quite highly of me but, as you have to do in most sports, you have to work your way up until you are strong enough and capable.

I don’t remember too much about my debut, a 1-1 draw at Watford. I just remember being grateful for a point away from home. I think Watford were going well so it was a good achievement.

DURING YOUR TIME WITH THE CHERRIES, YOU PLAYED ALONGSIDE KEVIN REEVES AND THE LATE MICKY CAVE, WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THEM?

You could see from very early on that Kevin was going to be a good player.

When I went to Torquay, I worked with a young Lee Sharpe and he was a very similar player to Kevin.
They were both sharp and aware and you could see their football brains would take them a lot higher and it did because they were both internationals.

I was very fortunate to play with Micky, both at Bournemouth and Seattle Sounders. My family came with me and we had a fantastic time in Seattle.

Micky was a great player, very skilful and always produced the goods. When we found out about the horrible way he had passed away, it was a very sad day for me, my family and everyone who knew him.

IN MARCH 1980, YOU PLAYED AGAINST IAN BOTHAM WHO MADE HIS FOOTBALL LEAGUE DEBUT FOR SCUNTHORPE IN A 3-3 DRAW AT DEAN COURT, WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF HIM?

He was an athlete and an absolutely fantastic cricketer who could also hold his own at football. He had a real physical presence and was a good player.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MANAGING NOW AND MANAGING WHEN YOU DID?

In the game today, unfortunately, a manager is expected to produce overnight and, if he doesn’t, he goes. In my era, most chairmen would give you three or four years.

That meant you could get players out of the club you didn’t fancy or wouldn’t fit into your plans and then bring in players who could hopefully win you promotion.

It takes time. I can’t see why chairmen, directors and supporters expect so much from managers. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ANECDOTES OF PLAYING UNDER ALEC STOCK?

We were doing some work on possession and shape in the pouring rain and Alec was walking round in his wellington boots and with his umbrella up giving out instructions.

Ted MacDougall was shaking his head and the rest of us were having a good laugh.

We just got on with it. When you go out on the pitch, the manager can get signals to you but you just try to put into place what he wants you to do and that’s what we did.

WHAT WAS DAVID WEBB LIKE TO PLAY UNDER?

We had a great side and winning promotion was a great achievement.

What Webby achieved at Chelsea was unbelievable and he scored the winner for them in an FA Cup final.

He was a very astute person and had lots of businesses. He was very successful, not just in football but outside of it as well. I learned a lot from him.

I played under so great managers at Bournemouth. When you go into management, you pick out all the good things and good points from the managers you played for and I had plenty from Webby.

WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF CLINCHING PROMOTION AT BRADFORD IN MAY 1982?

There was a lot of pressure on both teams. The weather wasn’t great but we knew we just had to produce the goods.

We thought we could have done better but to win promotion was fantastic. To sneak into fourth place was brilliant, it brings back fond memories.

I had nine great years at Bournemouth and two of my children were born while I was there.

Going on loan to Seattle Sounders and living in America for a short spell was the icing on the cake but playing for Bournemouth was my Premier League. The best years of my career were there.

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