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First team

Cook says fans' return was 'monumental'


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

After nine months without supporters at Vitality Stadium, Steve Cook toasted the "perfect day" against Huddersfield and can't wait for a similar experience on Tuesday evening.

A total of 1,200 home fans were admitted for the 5-0 win over the Terriers on Saturday, those watching treated to a stunning home attacking display to maintain Bournemouth's promotion charge.

Cook, the side's longest-serving player, knows perhaps better than anyone the importance of the Cherries contingent and their essential role in a matchday.

Noisy throughout, the joyous celebrations - perhaps combined with 287 days of pent-up relief in the stands - were especially audible after Dominic Solanke gave the Cherries their lead inside eight minutes.

"It was lovely when you heard them after the first goal," said Cook to afcb.co.uk. "We spoke about that in the changing room, we wanted to come out and give them something to cheer, and do it for ourselves on the pitch as well.

"You want to play football with fans in the stadium, you want to hear that noise, it makes you feel warm inside, that's what you play football for.

"That first goal was a lovely moment, it's been a situation I don't think I ever thought I'd come across in my career, losing the fans but then welcoming them back."

The goal may have lit the touchpaper for the Cherries on the pitch and in the stands, but Cook says that from the squad's first interaction with the fans on Saturday it promised to be a positive return.

"As soon as we walked out to warm up you could tell they were up for it, they've been away for a long time and it was extremely nice to see," he said.

"I think the club sorted it nicely in the four corners, trying to create that atmosphere, I'm just really pleased we were able to give them an entertaining game - five goals and a clean sheet, hopefully that kept them warm.

"It was a monumental day for the club and hopefully we'll move on from this and be able to get more in."

There were two young fans that Cook knows better than anyone who especially enjoyed the chance to come back and watch, in this case, their father skippering the side to an important win.

The defender's sons Frey, aged five, and Eden, three, getting the opportunity to make up for lost time and see the Cherries in action again.

"My boys have been very much looking forward to this," said Cook. "I told Frey that he could come and he's at an age now where he really wants to watch, every morning he watches the highlights of previous games.

"It's difficult for them, I'm always going away for games and they're thinking where I might be off to and why can't they come.

"To have a bit of normality back for them is really nice and in general football is people's life so for them to get out now and come and watch football - getting out of the house and seeing some familiar faces is life changing."

And with his sons joining a reduced crowd used to only seeing the recent Championship successes of the side from afar, Cook admitted he too felt some trepidation before stepping out onto the pitch.

He explained: "I had a few pre-match nerves on Saturday, I haven't had that for a long time, just because you're going out into the unknown again, having our fans back.

"In the end it was really nice, a really good feeling to hear so much noise - now I'm looking forward to some more on Tuesday.

"It was a perfect day for the club, the team and the fans, now we have to kick on against Wycombe."

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