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Bourne Legacy: Steve Massey


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Striker Steve Massey played under three different managers in just three years at AFC Bournemouth between 1978 and 1981.

Pictured to the far right of the image above, Massey went on to become a shrewd businessman. He invested a £1,000 signing-on fee in a house near Dean Court which he went on to rent to the club for many years after he had left.

Plucked from a building site in Stockport, he played alongside Ted MacDougall and under manager Alec Stock, the man he credits for giving him his business acumen.

Still in the game as manager of Cornish side Helston AFC - currently playing in the South West Peninsula League - Massey helped his side make history this week in the Emirates FA Cup.

Making the extra preliminary round for the first time, they made it through thanks to an impressive 4-1 win away at Bath-based Odd Down AFC on Tuesday evening.

How did your move from Stockport County come about?

It was a connection with John Benson who was the manager at Bournemouth.

I had no idea they were interested and was working on a building site, hod-carrying and labouring. I got a message via the house I was working at to come to the ground as soon as possible because the secretary wanted to speak to me.

I was told they had agreed a fee and John Benson would be here to speak to me shortly. I had never talked terms before and asked our secretary how much I should ask for in wages.

At that time, I was on £25 a week and £5 appearance money. He said I should ask for £40 a week and a £500 signing-on fee. I met John and he offered me a two-year contract on £80 a week with a £2,000 signing-on fee. I just said ‘where do I sign?”

You had just turned 20 – what was it like for a young northern lad to settle down south?

I was in digs for the first six weeks during pre-season training and it was fabulous. I didn’t have my mum and dad asking me what time I would be coming back or where I was off to. It was a new experience and Bournemouth seemed like a million miles from Stockport.

But then it just hit me and I got homesick. I used to travel back to Stockport every weekend after a match. I would rush to the station on a Saturday night, get back to Stockport in the early hours of Sunday morning and then have to come back mid-afternoon on the Sunday.

I did that for about eight weeks and then, from nowhere, it just stopped. I was coming back on the train one Sunday and thought it was crazy what I was doing just to spend a few hours at home.

You scored on your debut, a penalty in a 3-1 win against Newport County in August 1978. Did that help you settle?

Very much so. I remember it was a red-hot day. Kenny Allen also made his debut in the same game.

I had always taken penalties at Stockport and it just felt like a great opportunity to score a goal.

I always put my penalties to the keeper’s right and would always try to hit the side netting and that’s where I put it.

In September 1978, the Cherries hosted Portsmouth in a long-awaited derby in front of 10,058 at Dean Court. You scored in a 3-1 win as the Cherries moved into the top six in Division Four. What were your memories of the game?

I just remember arriving at the ground and thinking “wow, this is something different”. I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it because it was one of the best experiences of my career.

I hadn’t felt anything like the buzz before and everybody was so up for the game.
I remember going to Fratton Park for the return fixture and thinking “gee-whizz, this is unbelievable”. Those Pompey chimes were amazing.

Ted MacDougall returned to the club in your first season – what was he like to play alongside?

As a footballer and a goalscorer, he was the best I had seen. I had huge respect for him as a player.

He had a second nature when he was in the box and knew where the goal was. He was different class.

John Benson signed you and resigned in your first season in January 1979 – did it affect you?

To be perfectly honest, I thought it was par for the course because at Stockport I used to have two managers every season. I just thought here we go again.

It was a little unsettling because John had complete confidence in me. He brought me to the club and paid money for me.

It is bound to upset you because every new manager comes in and has his own ideas and his own players.

John was instrumental in getting me to Bournemouth and was really good to me, especially when I was feeling homesick. He knew I was homesick and let me go home as often as I could. He was really supportive.

Alec Stock replaced Benson – how did you get on with him?

I thought he was fantastic. He was old school and was so respectful. I knew about his Fulham and QPR days and was in awe of him. His knowledge was fantastic.

His training was old school and we had to march in twos and shout out ‘left, right, left, right’ as we marched. People talk about the science and dietary methods behind football now.

In those days, it was thought the best pre-match meal was the biggest steak you could get. No wonder some of us couldn’t run with that sitting on our stomach three hours later!

Alec gave me the best bit of advice for the rest of my life and it’s still rewarding me now. My signing-on fee was paid in two instalments and he asked me if I was going to buy a flashy car with music blaring out.

He told me to stick it in property. I bought a house near the ground for £18,000. I had a mortgage for £17,000 and put down the other £1,000 from my signing-on fee. After I left the club, I rented it to them and they had a number of players who lived there. It set me up for other things and I am still buying property to this day. I’ve got a lot to thank Alec for.

What are your recollections of Kenny Allen being attacked by an irate Tranmere fan at Prenton Park in Sept 1979?

I remember the floodlights weren’t very good at Tranmere and we had a goal-kick. Their fans were irate anyway because we were winning quite convincingly.

I was in the centre circle waiting for Kenny to take it and he was taking his time as he wound up the fans behind his goal.

Suddenly and through the darkness, I could see somebody was on the pitch. I didn’t realise he had a stick until he whacked Kenny with it.

I remember he was wearing a long, black raincoat and he looked like a spy.
I’ve still got the photo which appeared in the Daily Mail. It won a sports photo of the year award.

I remember the headline saying something about England’s oldest hooligan being arrested.

In March 1980, you stole Ian Botham’s thunder by scoring twice in a 3-3 draw with Scunthorpe. What are your memories of Ian Botham?

It must have been something about Ian Botham that brought out the best in me. When I went to Hull City, we played Scunthorpe one Boxing Day and he gave away a penalty, which I scored to win 1-0.

I was in South Africa a few years ago when the England cricket team were there and was staying in the same hotel as the Sky Sports crew.

Ian Botham was there so I went over to him and said “the last time you saw me was at Boothferry Park playing for Hull City” and he immediately looked at me and said “It was never a penalty – we were robbed!”

He was okay as a footballer but I think it was just a gimmick.

How would you sum up your time at Dean Court?

It was a great learning curve, both on and off the pitch. It made me grow up. I was a northern boy from a two-up, two-down terraced house and moving away was the best thing I did and it made me mature as a person. I’d like to think I grew up very quickly from a teenager to a man.

It felt like I was moving to the end of the world but it certainly made me realise it was a big world out there. I remember my time very fondly and look back on it as one of my best times in pro football. I thought the sun shone all the time there!

What are you doing now?

I’m still heavily involved in the semi-pro game and am director of football at Helston Athletic in Cornwall.

When I came out of football, myself and my wife bought holiday parks and built up a small portfolio of five. We sold them a number of years ago so I’m in a nice position where my footballing hobby has taken over. I’ve also got a couple of little developments on the go as well.

This feature initially appeared in the Everton edition of MATCHDAY - the club's programme - during the 2019/20 season.

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