Date: 3rd July 2009 at 4:36pm
Written by:

Now the dust has settled on last season our annual summer pick me up has arrived in the shape of the new league table, all pristine, full of zeros, full of promise, and most importantly of all – sorted into alphabetical order, which according to the official version from the Football League, put us at the top of League Two. If we didn`t have to worry about actually playing the bothersome fixture list – back to back promotions and a regular place in the Champions league would be guaranteed within three years. Instead we rarely finish as high as we start. But at least we have the summer months to enjoy looking down on the alphabetically challenged.

Not all versions of the table tell the same story as some sections of the media struggle with concept of alphabetical order. The most notable culprit is the BBC – which chooses to ignore the “A.F.C” in front of Bournemouth altogether. In fact neither the BBC, nor the Football League table is correct, because the “A” is for Athletic, which would put us behind Accrington Stanley, Arsenal and Aston Villa, depending on the divisions, although still guarantee a Champions League place if you look at all 92 league clubs together. (Yes we would have to qualify but you have to take the rough with the smooth). In compiling their version of the table the Football League seem to think that the “A” is a hollow prefix, the kind of device used by firms such as A1 Windscreens, or emergency plumbers, to get attention in the yellow pages.

Aside from aspiring to be the first football club listed in the yellow pages, just in case anyone needs to call out an emergency football club, I suspect that one motive for choosing the prefix A.F.C, when the club dropped Boscombe from its name in 1972, was that there was already a club down the road called Bournemouth F.C. I believe the official reason was to give the name a more continental feel, as in Athletico Madrid. Why then has “Athletic” disappeared from use to describe Athletic Football Club Bournemouth? For many years I mistakenly thought that the A.F.C stood for Association Football Club. Athletic is much cooler. A Charlton Athletic supporter would never make the same mistake. In Madrid I doubt anyone refers to Athletio Madrid as A. Madrid.

All over the country there are clubs that are known in local football parlance by something other than their official, often historic and slightly crap, nicknames. Bristol Rovers fans, support “Rovers” (or the Gasheads) – not “the Pirates” Bristol City fans support “City” not “the Robins”. Manchester United fans follow “United” Liverpool are simply the “Reds” to Everton`s “Blues.” And so on.

We are stuck with Bournemouth, which doesn`t seem to indicate a football club at all. Manchester United fans don`t follow “Manchester”. Wolverhampton Wanderers fans don`t follow “Wolverhampton.” Alternatively we have A.F.C Bournemouth, back to the initials thing – it`s a mouthful and only really works for A.C. Milan. Finally we have “The Cherries.” a name which is only good for clich├ęd newspaper headlines. How many times a season have “the Cherries been piped?” Some may hold “the Cherries” in high affection. I don`t want the name to disappear altogether, but it is about as inspirational as being called the powder puffs. It`s quaint and cosy and just invites people to patronise us.

We could be at the start of a new era for the club. I am in favour of bringing the name Athletic into more common use. Anyone else?

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