For me a visit to a new area is seldom complete without a quick trip to see the local football stadium. And so, during a trip to the south coast I took the little one over for a quick visit to the home of Bournemouth FC.
Previously known as Dean Court, the Goldsands Stadium is the home of the Cherries. The first match officially played by A.F.C Bournemouth at Dean Court was on 1st September 1923 when an estimated 7,000 avid supporters watched a 0-0 draw against Swindon Town.
The club moved to Dean Court in December 1910 after it took longer than anticipated to clear the previous gravel pit.Before the start of the 1923/1924 Division Three South League, the Cherries, were known as Boscombe F.C.
We were given a personal tour by ex-Manchester United winger Russell Beardsmore who now works for Bournemouth. One of my first contributions to the tour was to remind Beardsmore of the 5-1 drubbing by Manchester City at Maine Road on 23rd September 1989.
We chuckled and Beardsmore reminded me that he had crossed for Mark Hughes to volley home that spectacular consolation for the Red Devils. Indeed, Beardsmore, described as a “mischievous little player” during the commentary clip dinked in, dinked out and whipped in a measured cross just before he reached the goal line.
An airborne Mark Hughes did the rest, volleying in with his customary precision. “They had five shots on target all throughout and they scored each one,” Beardsmore recollected.
The old Dean Court was decked out with fixtures and fittings from the British Empire Exhibition Stadium. Thereafter the Cherries played eight games at Dorchester’s Avenue Stadium as the ground was totally rebuilt with three stands to house a total capacity of 9,600.
In 2010/11 the temporary south stand was developed for the 2010-2011 season. After the south coast side were promoted to the Championship, the club built a more permanent seating stand. The stadium is very compact and has a 12,000 capacity at the moment.
With Eddie Howe’s men surging towards the Premier League, Beardsmore informed me that plans are afoot to increase the seating capacity to meet Premier League requirements.
“The obvious proposal is to fill in the corners with seating and to build bigger on the current Ted MacDougall Stand at the South side of the stadium as this stand is designed to be dismantled,” he said.
First stop was the main stand, the executive boxes and the directors’ area. The rooms are posh, spacious and photos of current stars and old legends adorn the walls. There is a signed, framed Real Madrid shirt and pictorial memories to remind visitors and staff of the memorable day football royalty took a trip to the south coast to play the Cherries on their home turf.
Real Madrid visit
The Spanish giants turned up with a full squad that day. Ronaldo scored twice before Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Casemiro wrapped up a 6-0 victory for Carlo Ancelottis’ nine times European champions. Having just been signed for £23 million Isco also made an appearance. The game also witnessed the largest turnout of fans as a little fewer than 12,000 crammed in to watch the boys from the Bernabeu strut their stuff.
This remains the Cherries record attendance, however, before modern developments took over, 28,799 watched Manchester United and the Busby Babes visit Bournemouth in the FA Cup sixth round on March 2nd 1957.
The game took place a year before the Munich air disaster. Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic lost 1-2 to their illustrious visitors. The magic of the F.A Cup saw Brian Bedford give the home side a shock lead but the Cherries semi-final dreams were dashed by a brace from Johnny Berry.
The current stadium, built in 2001, has good views all around. We were given a tour of the boardroom and also the home dressing room which houses all the trappings and comforts of the modern day game. There are features within the dressing room which are in fact similar to the Arsenal home dressing room at the Emirates Stadium.
I took a look inside the ice plunge and Beardsmore told my son that he was tempted to give me a cheeky nudge to send me diving into the freezing abyss.
The stadium has undergone significant changes. It used to face a completely different direction and has been completely rotated ninety degrees from where the old Dean Court ground once stood.
The decision to rotate was primarily taken to limit the impact on local housing. Also, a corporate sponsorship deal led to the ground being renamed as the Goldsands Stadium during the year of the London Olympics in 2012.
The training facilities are just behind the stadium. We finished the tour to watch the players train and were lucky to meet (one of my favourite players) Leeds United legend Ian Harte, who is enjoying veteran status with the Cherries, Welsh international Shaun MacDonald and Ryan Fraser.