Former defensive rock Shaun Teale talks about breaking new ground during his short career with the Cherries.
Shaun Teale was the first AFC Bournemouth player to twice win the coveted Supporters’ Player of the Year award during three seasons at the club.
Signed by Harry Redknapp from non-league Weymouth, the defender made 116 league and cup appearances between 1989 and 1991 before joining Aston Villa.
Teale starred at the back as the Cherries finished ninth in the second flight in 1988/89, only to suffer a serious injury as they were relegated the following season.
How did your move from Weymouth come about January 1989?
A lot of it was to do with the friendship between Harry Redknapp and Stuart Morgan, the Weymouth manager. I was playing well at the time and I think Weymouth were looking to make money by selling me and Peter Guthrie.
It was decided that Bournemouth was where I was going to go and don’t think I was offered to anyone else at the time. It was a done deal as soon as Harry showed an interest.
I was only at Weymouth for 18 months and moved along the coast to Bournemouth.
The reported transfer fee was £50,000 – was that a millstone?
I never even thought about the fee and it never really bothered me. I had always wanted to be a professional footballer and actually took a wage drop to come to Bournemouth. I was playing part-time at Weymouth and combining it with painting and decorating every day.
When they offered me the contract, I think I was £50 a week worse off. It was a gamble but I had always wanted to play full-time football, I didn’t want to play part-time. It was the chance of a lifetime.
What are your memories of your full debut in a 1-0 win at Birmingham in February 1989?
The thing that really stood out for me was a big report in the paper the next day. They had interviewed Ray Harford and he said it was the best debut he had ever seen, which was a nice thing for someone to say.
I was quite naive at the time. I know I was 24 but I had never been a pro so to just get thrown in at Birmingham was a big thing for me.
I enjoyed the game. I had quite a physical battle with their striker which suited my game anyway. I just fitted in and it worked for me. I think some people who move up the ladder can struggle. For me, it was never a struggle.
You made 20 appearances in your first season, helping the team finish 12th in the second flight.
Hopes must have been high for the following year?
I was pleased. We finished 12th, which was the club’s best placing until they won the Championship recently, and 20 appearances wasn’t bad for my first season considering when I had signed.
But I was fortunate. People forget I only really got my chance straightaway because of Kevin Bond’s long-term hip injury. If Kevin hadn’t had that injury, I think I might have struggled to get in.
But one man’s demise is another man’s gain and that happened for me. I took my chance, kept my place and would like to think I earned my place as well.
You were ever present in the first 40 league and cup games of 1989/90 – you must have thought you had a chance of going up?
I think we all felt that at the time. We were winning games on a regular basis, we were playing well and we had good players in the team. We were a strong unit and didn’t give much away at the back. And with Luther Blissett up front, we were always going to score goals.
You played your final game of 1989/90 in a 1-1 draw at Port Vale in March. The team were 14th and ten points clear of relegation. What happened?
We came in for training on the Monday and had the usual session. Then, Harry decided we would have a full-scale practice match. Unfortunately for me, I sustained a knee injury. The medial ligaments came clean out of my knee. I ended up in hospital and, four hours later, had an operation.
I had ten days in hospital and that was my season finished. After that, it was all about getting fit but it became a hard pill to swallow because we slumped down the table really quickly.
What were your memories of the Leeds game on the final day of the 1989/90 season?
It was horrendous. I remember being on crutches and dodging a brick as it flew past my leg. It wasn’t pleasant and was very intimidating coming into the ground. I had my wife and young kids with me.
Those things don’t really happen and should never have happened. It should have been controlled better. It was the final nail in the coffin for the team, which was really hard to swallow.
Did you have an opportunity to leave in the summer?
I don’t think so. There had been a lot of talk and clubs like Manchester City, Wimbledon and Reading were mentioned but nothing concrete ever happened. I was rehabilitating and getting ready for the new season, I was determined to be fully fit and back in the team as quickly as I could
You played all 56 league and cup games in 1990/91. You had a good team. Was there a source of disappointment at not finishing higher than ninth?
Yes, there was. We had a good team. We still had the basis of the team which had been there for the previous three years. We probably should have done a lot better than we did.
We had had the issue with Harry and the car crash in Italy. Brian Tiler passed away and it was a difficult period for everybody at the club. Nobody really knew what was going on and, in the end, Tony Pulis took over as caretaker while Harry recuperated and we sort of lost our way a little.
If I remember rightly, we finished okay but had a really bad patch in the middle where we dropped too many points in games we should have won.
What are you doing now?
I work for the Aston Villa Foundation. In the summer, we went to Brisbane in Australia to do a camp. Last year, we did a camp in China. I do a lot of corporate hospitality at the club on matchdays and am part of the committee for former players.
I keep myself busy and still have my painting and decorating business in Southport. I started my business when I left Weymouth. I had people working for me and, when I finished playing, it was the natural thing to get back on the brushes.
This article originally featured in the Aston Villa edition of the club's MATCHDAY magazine in February.