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Hollands went from villain to hero at Accy


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

A near 600-mile round trip to East Lancashire offered Danny Hollands a major step on the road to redemption with AFC Bournemouth supporters.

Hollands bagged the only goal as the Cherries triumphed 1-0 against Accrington Stanley on their way to winning promotion to League One in 2009/10.

His late header at the Crown Ground saw Eddie Howe’s team retain pole position in League Two and halted a four-match winless run in all competitions.

For Hollands, it firmly exorcised the ghost of his previous visit to the venue when ugly scenes had followed a chastening 3-0 defeat for the Cherries in November 2008.

Jimmy Quinn’s men had been put to the sword during a chaotic opening 20 minutes as goals from Paul Mullin, Terry Gornell and Rostyn Griffiths stunned the hosts.

Hollands, a second-half substitute, issued a public apology to travelling fans after he had turned on them and reacted angrily to chants of ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ following the final whistle.

Skipper Hollands atoned 11 months later when he scored the winner 14 minutes from time with goalkeeper Shwan Jalal’s stunning late save from a Jimmy Ryan free-kick preserving their lead.

Midfielder Hollands, who had starred during the previous season’s Greatest Escape, netted six goals in 39 league games as Howe’s heroes finished as runners-up to Notts County.

Now plying his trade with Eastleigh in the National League and coaching part-time at Portsmouth, Hollands spoke to afcb.co.uk for the latest in our series of interviews for The Journey.

Recalling his return trip to Accrington, he said: “When you go back somewhere with something like that hanging over you, you want to do well.

“At the time, there were things going on, it was an unfortunate situation and I was trying to do what was best for me. Everything got resolved.

“I’m sure what had happened the previous season would have been in everyone’s mind because we still had virtually the same squad.

“I knew I had to make sure I performed well. It was a scruffy goal but I was just thankful it went well for me and the team that day.

“We had started the season like a house on fire and won a lot of games in the first third. We stuttered a little in the middle part but never really dropped out of contention.

“Accrington is never an easy place to go. You have to roll up your sleeves and we knew it was always going to be a testing day for us regardless of what had happened in the past.

“We knew 0-0 wouldn’t have been a bad result but we really needed all three points and, thankfully, we got them.”

Despite his impressive form during the first half of the season, Hollands was relieved of the captaincy by boss Howe following a 2-0 defeat by Northampton at the start of January 2010.

And while he admitted losing the armband had been a disappointment, at the time, Hollands magnanimously hailed his successor Jason Pearce as a “born leader”.

Looking back on the decision, Hollands, who also coaches his triplet daughters at Arundel under-nine girls, said: “To be fair to the gaffer, he had a point. 

“I understand why he did it and couldn’t fault him. I’m in coaching now so I can see things from the other side.

“It wasn’t nice at the time and I still speak about it now. When it gets brought up, people ask me why it happened.

“Bar a couple of players, we were a very young squad and maybe I wasn’t doing things off the pitch the way Eddie wanted.

“I felt we did things correctly most of the time. We were like a family and we socialised quite a lot together.

“I felt I was playing quite well and we were doing well in the league. It was frustrating but it got me focussed.

“One minute you are leading out team and winning games and then, all of sudden, the manager says he doesn’t think you are right for the captaincy any more. It startled me a bit.

“But I knew I had to make sure I did everything correctly because the next step could have been coming out of the team and I certainly didn’t want that.”

Hollands continued to deliver on the pitch, his contribution including crucial doubles in wins over promotion rivals Rotherham and Notts County at the start of February.

“There were some good teams in League Two at the time,” said Hollands. “And there were some good players.

“I remember Jack Lester was at Chesterfield, another team going for promotion, and Rotherham had Kevin Ellison, a great player at that level.

“Notts County were a very strong team with the likes of Kasper Schmeichel in goal and Lee Hughes up front.

“When you’ve just had the captaincy taken away from you, people are probably watching you more to see how you’re playing and what you’re doing.

“It was something I had to deal with. I had to continue to put in good performances to make sure I stayed in the team. When you’re in a winning team, you want to be part of something special.

“I always tried to my bit. I remember the games against Rotherham and Notts County, they were both on a Tuesday night.

“I scored twice against Notts County and hit the post with another chance which was probably the easiest of the three.

"I could have scored a hat-trick against Kasper Schmeichel, someone who went on to win the Premier League!”

Hollands played his part as the Cherries went on to clinch promotion at Burton Albion, one of 219 games he played for the club having signed from Chelsea in July 2006.

“Burton will always go down as one of those days which sticks in the memory,” said Hollands. “It was a fantastic day for everybody connected with the club.

“They were a good team and we knew we needed to win to guarantee promotion. Everyone was so focussed and you just knew we were going to win, even from the warm-up.

“It didn’t matter what it was going to take, we were going to do enough to get over the line. They were great days and I will always remember them fondly.”

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