On FA Cup final day Steve Fletcher talks about his proud history in the competition – even before becoming a professional himself.
It’s 28 years since Fletcher first joined the Cherries, going on to become the club’s record appearance maker, but the family’s footballing ties go back even further, with Fletcher’s grandfather Jack Howe an FA Cup winner as a player in the forties.
An imposing defender who could play in the middle or on the left of the back line, Hartlepool-born Howe also played three times for England in the latter part of the decade.
However, it was before that in 1946 that Howe joined his Derby team-mates in lifting the famous trophy in front of 98,000 fans at the Twin Towers.
Fletcher spoke with afcb.co.uk about the role his grandfather had in Rams history, and how the memory had been passed down along with souvenirs from the occasion.
“My grandad, he won the FA Cup in 1946, he was the left-back in the only time Derby County have won it,” he said.
“I suppose because of that the FA Cup has been special in my family, and if you go to Derby’s stadium now right in their reception there’s a big picture of the captain with the FA Cup trophy and he’s on my grandad’s shoulders.
“Because of that I had that knowledge when I was growing up: my grandad had played for Derby and England and had won the FA Cup.
“We had the winners’ medal at home and my mum used to wear it on a necklace around her neck. It was solid gold, God knows what it’s worth now, an heirloom for our family for that relationship between the Cup and our family.”
Wearing the number three, Howe started in April 1946 against Charlton Athletic, an own goal five minutes from time giving Derby an advantage that was almost instantly cancelled out by the Addicks, the match going to extra time.
Derby then made their superiority count, scoring three goals in 14 minutes to win 4-1 and lift the Cup for the first and only time.
“In my heart the Cup’s still a huge deal,” said Fletcher. “It’s still one of the biggest, if not the biggest, club competition in the world.
“For me, it always will be. I could name you every FA Cup finalist and goalscorer from probably the first one I remember in 1980 onwards, I remember West Ham and Trevor Brooking’s header and when I was little I used to re-enact every goal in the street, wanting to be the scorer from every final.
“As a kid growing up I wanted to emulate my grandad and play in an FA Cup final. I had a fantastic career but didn’t quite reach the pinnacle that he did. It means I will never lose the love I have for the Cup, it will always have the magic.
“Now I’m in the coaching department I look at it completely differently, but I’d still one day love to say that I was part of an AFC Bournemouth squad that got to an FA Cup final, as Bournemouth have never done that.
“I played at Wembley as a player, in the Auto Windscreens in 1998 in front of 70,000, but not in the Cup.
“Playing would be the best but being part of the coaching side would be the next best thing. I still dream of that, of walking out at Wembley and everything that comes with the FA Cup final."