Programme contributor Mark Mitchener takes a historical look at Bournemouth’s previous visits to particular away venues. Have they been happy hunting grounds – or fortresses the Cherries have failed to conquer?
VICTORIA GROUND & BRITANNIA/BET365 STADIUM
Cherries record at Victoria Ground – Played 7, Won 1, Drawn 2, Lost 4, Goals for 6, Goals against 9.
Cherries record at Britannia/Bet365 Stadium – Played 9, Won 3, Drawn 0, Lost 6, Goals for 6, Goals against 13.
While there are contradictory accounts of the exact date of Stoke’s formation, they moved to the Victoria Ground in 1878, and became a founder member of the Football League a decade later. Although they failed to earn re-election in 1890 and spent a season in the Football Alliance, bankruptcy in 1908 meant the club dropped out of the League again and did not return until football resumed after World War I in 1919.
When Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status in 1925, the Potters adopted their current name of Stoke City, but aside from a single season in the Third Division (North) in 1926/27, they remained in the top two divisions for many decades – meaning they did not meet Bournemouth until the fourth round of the League Cup in 1963/64, when Stoke won 2-1 at the Victoria Ground and went on to be losing finalists that season.
Promotion to the old Second Division under Harry Redknapp in 1987 meant the two clubs finally met in league football, but the Cherries suffered two defeats in successive seasons before a goalless draw in March 1990, with both clubs relegated to the Third Division at the end of the season.
Bournemouth recorded their first win at Stoke in February 1991 with Andy Jones, George Lawrence and Luther Blissett all on target in a 3-1 win, but the Potters continued to prevail on home turf with a draw and a Stoke win on the Cherries’ last two visits to the ground.
In 1997, Stoke swapped the Victoria Ground for the new, all-seater Britannia Stadium, named after the local building society which had sponsored it. Bournemouth did not visit the new ground until 1998 – but ill fortune seemed to follow the Cherries on their early trips there.
It is said that the four unluckiest events that can happen to a football team are to have a player sent off, a player carried off, to score an own goal, or to miss a penalty – and all four of these befell the Cherries as they lost their first six visits to the Britannia Stadium.
Steve Robinson, Richard Hughes and Warren Feeney all missed penalties in successive games – all at the same end of the ground. Shaun Maher crashed the ball into his own net while trying to clear a cross in 2001, and on-loan goalkeeper Chris Tardif was red-carded in an FA Cup tie there in 2003.
The Britannia jinx continued even when the Cherries reached the Premier League in 2015 – as Callum Wilson suffered a serious knee injury which would rule him out of most of that season. And there was tragic news to follow when lifelong Cherries supporter Mick Cunningham, former club photographer and programme editor, was taken ill at that game and passed away the following day.
With a change of sponsor, Stoke announced in the summer of 2016 that the stadium name would be changed to the Bet365 Stadium – and Bournemouth’s fortunes there have taken an upturn since the change – winning on each of their three subsequent visits in 2016, 2017 (see “Classic Matches” below) and 2021.
A VISITING STAT
Junior Stanislas is the only Bournemouth player to score more than once at Stoke, netting a penalty in October 2017 and grabbing the only goal there earlier this season.
Bournemouth had to mix and match when they visited Stoke in October 2000 – pairing their white away shirts (with black sleeves) together with the black shorts and socks from the home strip – although debutant Jermain Defoe’s shirt appeared particularly baggy on the teenager’s frame.
On the next visit to Stoke in September 2001, the Cherries gave a debut to their new third kit of yellow shirts, navy blue shorts and yellow socks, which was used for two seasons. Another kit made its debut there in 2017 (see “Classic Matches” below).
FIRSTS AND LASTS
Full-back Keith Brown made his Bournemouth debut on their first visit to the Victoria Ground in 1963. On their last trip there in 1992, manager Tony Pulis gave a debut to ex-Wales striker Steve Lovell, who had joined on trial after leaving Gillingham.
Lovell, who made five appearances for the Cherries and later managed Gillingham, is not to be confused with the “other” Steve Lovell, also a striker, who began his career at Dean Court in 1999 and ended it there in 2011.
Defender Danny Smith made his debut at Stoke as a substitute in April 2000, six months before Jermain Defoe netted on his Football League debut there. Another landmark goal came from Nathan Ake, who netted on his first Premier League start in a Cherries shirt in 2016.
Saturday 21st October 2017 – Premier League
Stoke City 1-2 Bournemouth
Having finished ninth in the Premier League in 2016/17, still their record finish, Bournemouth had made a disappointing start to the new season – losing their first four league games and only winning one of their first eight, scoring only four goals in that time.
Desperate for a win, could they do it on a windy Saturday in Stoke, against a team who had just been beaten 7-2 by Manchester City the previous week?
With illness and a hamstring injury ruling out Joshua King and Jermain Defoe respectively, Eddie Howe reinforced his forward line by bringing in Benik Afobe, Lys Mousset and Jordon Ibe, with Steve Cook and Dan Gosling dropping to the bench from the XI who had started the previous week’s defeat by Tottenham at Wembley.
Making its first appearance for the Cherries was the 2017/18 third kit – all-black with lime green trim – but despite a strong Staffordshire wind at their backs, the visitors took the lead after a quarter of an hour with a flowing five-man move, with the ball never leaving the ground.
Mousset picked the ball up on the right touchline, laying it off to Ibe who threaded a slide-rule pass through to Adam Smith, who had burst forward from full-back. Smith took the ball into the penalty area and cut it back for Junior Stanislas, who had three Stoke defenders around him but controlled the ball and guided it perfectly into the path of Andrew Surman, who stroked it into the far corner from 22 yards with his left foot like a snooker player making a careful long pot.
As it turned out, it was the 11th and last goal of Surman’s Cherries career, which lasted 226 games across three different spells between 2005 and 2020.
Two minutes later, Surman and Stanislas were involved again as the visitors kept possession from a Charlie Daniels throw-in on the left, setting up future Stoke striker Afobe who charged into the box and was bundled over by Potters skipper Ryan Shawcross, with referee Lee Probert immediately pointing to the spot.
Stanislas had scored two penalties the previous season, and made no mistake again here as he sent England international goalkeeper Jack Butland the wrong way, putting Bournemouth 2-0 up inside 18 minutes, and banishing memories of all those Cherries missed penalties at the stadium in previous years (see above).
With Stoke keen to bounce back straight away, a vital Daniels challenge blocked a shot at goal from another England international, Glen Johnson, while ex-Potters keeper Asmir Begovic kept out his old team-mate Mame Biram Diouf from an acute angle, and Butland prevented Ibe from adding a third for the Cherries before half-time.
Stoke had the wind at their backs in the second half, and soon introduced the aerial threat of Peter Crouch. Howe’s response was to sacrifice Mousset for an extra defender in Steve Cook.
But Joe Allen fired wide before Stoke pulled a goal back when a corner was half-cleared to Erik Pieters who thumped the ball back into the danger area, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting helped it on and Diouf volleyed it in past Begovic for his third Premier League goal against the Cherries.
The Stoke fans were soon baying for a penalty, but Probert was not convinced by Jese’s theatrics as he appeared to make the most of a challenge by Smith – and Bournemouth managed to stave off Stoke, and the wind, to preserve their one-goal advantage.
The result meant both teams were in the Premier League’s relegation zone, but the Cherries won three of their next four games.
“It’s a special win. It was a massive game, we didn’t want to become detached from the teams above us,” said Howe.
“In the first half we were incisive, but we feared that with the weather conditions, it would be a different story in the second half.”
Cherries: Begovic, Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels, Ibe (Pugh 87), L Cook (Arter 77), Surman, Stanislas, Afobe, Mousset (S Cook 62). Subs not used: Gosling, Fraser, Wilson, Boruc.
The Victoria Ground was pretty much a ground for complaint. The Britannia Stadium was very much a ground for complaint under its original name after six straight defeats and a rotten run of fortune – but since becoming the Bet365 Stadium, with three wins from three, it has switched to being a ground for celebration!