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Lewis grabbed the headlines and the ball


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

While the prospect of facing Oldham Athletic in a mid-table clash in November may not set the pulses racing, for Lewis Grabban it was a day he will never forget.

Signed by Paul Groves in June 2012 after bagging a hatful of goals in League Two for Rotherham, Grabban was tasked with firing the Cherries to the Championship.

However, the striker made an inauspicious start to his career in Dorset, his solitary goal in his first 11 games coming during a 1-1 draw with MK Dons on his home debut.

Eight points and one league victory with almost a quarter of the season gone saw the Cherries slip into the relegation zone and cost Groves and assistant Shaun Brooks their jobs.

With Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall watching on from the stands, Grabban wasted no time in impressing the new management duo by opening the scoring in a 2-0 win over Leyton Orient.

He scored again in a 4-2 win at Carlisle in Howe’s first away game, one of three successive league victories which hoisted the Cherries to 12th place ahead of the visit of Oldham on November 17th.

And Grabban played a starring role as they registered a fourth consecutive triumph, his first – and to date only – career hat-trick spearheading the Cherries to a 4-1 win over the Latics.  

His treble came in the space of 18 second-half minutes as the Cherries maintained their unbeaten start under Howe, a run which would go on to stretch for 17 games in all competitions.

Grabban netted 13 times as the Cherries clinched promotion as runners-up from League One in 2012/13, his tally of 22 seeing him win the club’s golden boot in the Championship in 2013/14.

Recounting his memories of the promotion-winning campaign in the latest in our series of The Journey, Grabban started with the events surrounding his move from Rotherham.

He told afcb.co.uk: “Bournemouth had always had a reputation for being a club with a good footballing philosophy which was what I wanted to be a part of at that time.

“I’d had a taste of the Championship during the early stages of my career at Crystal Palace and Millwall and wanted to get back there.

“When I spoke to Paul and Shaun, they made it clear they were into passing the ball, keeping it on the deck and the technical side of the game which interested me.

“At the time, the squad was super-young. Players were either trying to prove themselves or re-establish themselves and a lot of the lads had been at bigger clubs. Everyone was on the same page.

“I know it didn’t start well but you could see how good the squad was by the success we had that season and a lot of those players went on to play in the Premier League.

“I can’t put my finger on why we didn’t click to start with. We were unfortunate in some of the games and we had a few draws. It was fine margins.

“I didn’t know much about Eddie at the time. I was aware he had a long history with the club and he’s gone on to become a much bigger name than he was then.

“For me personally, it was a case of the old manager has left and a new one has come in – that’s just the ins and outs of football.

“I knew I needed to impress the new manager to get in his team. Even before he came, things had been a bit stop-start for me in those first few games of the season.

“I wasn’t nailed down in the squad and was determined to get into the team. I was happy to start against Orient and to be able to showcase myself to the new manager, just like the rest of the lads. To score in front of him was a bonus.

“They brought some experience and it was a time when we needed to switch on and get our season going because we were in the relegation zone.”

Grabban, who had served Oldham on loan in 2006, drew first blood against them in the 53rd minute when he diverted Harry Arter’s shot past goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

He made it 2-0 just a minute later when his well-timed run to the near post allowed him to sweep home a cross from Simon Francis.

And he completed his hat-trick when he reacted quickest to net the rebound after Arter’s 72nd-minute penalty had been saved by Bouzanis.

“I wanted to take the penalty but Harry grabbed the ball before I was able to get to it,” said Grabban, who is currently at Nottingham Forest. “I was still fairly new so he took the onus. Luckily for me he missed and I got the rebound.

“I’ve still got the ball. It was a good day, a landmark day in my career. Just scoring was nice because I was still trying to establish myself in the team at that time.”

Grabban maintained his rich vein of form in front of goal, taking his tally to seven in six league games by scoring in a 2-2 draw at Bury and in wins over Scunthorpe, Colchester and Yeovil.

“It was a good period for us,” he added. “I was enjoying it and I think everyone was.

“In my opinion, we were playing football that was too good for the level at times and it showed.

“Not many teams can play near enough total football in League One. It’s difficult at that level but we were on top of our game.

“We had a spell where we lost five on the bounce and that period was a good learning curve, especially in the hunt for promotion and in terms of being successful in general.

“You can have low points in your career and we definitely went through one then but were strong enough to come out the other side.

“We won eight games on the trot, a club record, and it was mission accomplished when we beat Carlisle to clinch promotion.

“That season taught me a lot. If you stick at something and work hard, you can be successful. You just have to keep believing in what you’re doing.”

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