Date: 14th May 2018 at 6:45am
Written by:

Written by AlGard

“Do you mind if we stay a bit longer?”
It’s a question I dread here in France when visitors come in the summer for a “couple of days.”
The visitor’s kids have been taunting the dogs. The chickens have stopped laying with fear, they bring sand back from the beach that would fill the bunker on the 18th at St Andrew’s, and eat and drink us out of house and home.
After 3 days. we have had enough.

AFCB will be staying for at least that “extra day.”
Thought we might drop in for a couple of days.
Pulling the tails of the top dogs.
Putting fear into those you think we will roll over and die.
And camping in the Premier League bunker of mid-table safety.

We might have progressed every year under Eddie Howe, but this year we didn’t.

Wait a minute!

How do you progress on 9th in the Premier League?

Let’s get serious. 8th would have been a miracle. 7th would have been Europe, 6th would have encroached on the “Big 6.”
Just what can we expect in reality?

There is a lot to do off the pitch still to be the “Fully Comp” Premier League team and the longer it goes on, the more worrying it becomes as to whether we can sustain our status.

Finally, a point of order.

The three games in the run-up to Xmas.

Manchester United
Liverpool
Manchester City

The three games in the run-up to Xmas 9 years ago.
Chester
Rochdale
Bury

Oh, and a cup replay to Blyth Spartans was another fixture we squeezed in.

Still enjoying the ride?
I know I am.

Anyway, no negatives in this annual report. Just a bit of humour and general banter that I hope you will enjoy.

‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌AUGUST:
3 seasons in the Premier League and there are things already written in stone. We will lose the first match, and the team that beats us will go on to be totally toilet for the rest of the season, and get relegated with the lowest points in that club’s history. First Aston Villa and this year West Brom.

I am choosing to ignore the opening day defeat to Man Utd last season, but the curse of beating AFC Bournemouth on the first game of the season certainly played on their minds all season and by their standards, it was a poor season.

I was quite hopeful of getting off to a flyer. But no!

There are 5 Egyptian players in the Premier League and while the majestic Mo Salah is the true Sphinx in the oasis of players, it was Ahmed Hagazy who scored. A truly average player. More of a sphincter than sphinx in the grand scheme of things.

Surely 3 points against Watford or at least one. Another thing that is written in stone by the Gods of the Premier League.

“Thy club and Watford will share the fruit of the garden of Eden”.

Not this time, It wasn’t pretty. The first eyebrow was raised in what was to be fair one of our worst Premier League performances during our tenure.

Only Manchester City next. They have spent the same on players over the last 2 seasons equal to the GDP of Dominica. (Fact: I know somebody will be googling this right now)

Charlie Daniels. “Bosh” Pick that out. Our 100K left-back had £100M of defenders shaking their precious heads in disbelief.
City began to turn it on. Jesus scored. Parents Mary and Joseph in the crowd would have been delighted.
Was expecting a 2nd half mauling, but we were their equal. Every Cherry bust a gut ran for miles, fought for everything.
A point was on the cards……
Just 4 minutes of added time, and a deserved point was ours.
In the 3rd hour of added time, Sterling scored. Yep! That Sterling that we all shout at every time he puts an England shirt on and plays like Pansy Potter.
Devastating. But immense pride. For me, one of our best performances of the season.

SEPTEMBER:
Only Arsenal away next. One down in 6 minutes. It was never in doubt from there.
4 games. 0 points. Only Palace below us. The doom merchants were out. (Me included)
Was hoping for 4 points from the opening 4.

Brighton. Without a doubt “The Biggest” team we had faced to date according to North Stand Chat. We gave them a goal start, but thankfully Surman and Defoe turned it around. We were on the board,

Real optimism at Everton, and for 70 minutes we “bossed” it. But Niasse equalised, we panicked, and Niasse scored again. A player so mocked by the home fans that some were saying Niasse stood for Never in a scoring situation ever.

Another thing written in stone. “We will mostly always draw with Leicester.” We weren’t let down.

OCTOBER:
A league game at Wembley. Something we will probably never do again. We played OK, Citizen Kane was controlled in a decent defensive display, but Eriksen made sure that we came away from Wembley for the 2nd time in our history without the spoils. The national stadium is rapidly becoming a bogey ground for us. Twice in nigh on 20 years. Don’t put any money on us if we get to win an FA Cup semi-final. The place is cursed.

A very important away win at Stoke, was followed by another home defeat against one of those teams we call the top 6 in Chelsea.

P10 W2 D1 L7.
2nd bottom on 7 points with Palace propping us up on 4 points.

NOVEMBER:
Now if I had a 2nd team, it would probably be the “Toon.” Love the town, Love the football, Love the beer, and used to disappointment.
And their fans faces when Steve Cook netted with a nanosecond to go was a picture. Instead of going home singing “Blaydon Races”,
they had to be content with singing “Blaydon Ref” who had earlier ruled out a perfectly good goal for them. Was our luck changing?

Then the performance we were all waiting for. Huddersfield dispatched with ease thanks to Callum’s hat trick.
Damn upstarts in their 1st Premier League season had started the campaign rather well.

Another thing written in stone, ( beginning to sound like the AFC Bournemouth 10 Commandments now!)

“Thy will never giveth defeat to Swansea.”

0-0 we didn’t giveth them owt’.

Hopes of an unbeaten month were lost with a poor performance in a defeat to Burnley. Saying that Burnley were flying, and to me
have done themselves proud since their return to the Premier League. It’s hard to dislike Dyche. Always pretty honest post-match, and has a bit of “scoundrel” humour in him.
I would also like to hear him sing “I was born under a wandering star” on the karaoke with his gravely voice.

P14 W4 D2 L8
Up to 15th. Palace and Swansea bottom with 9 points, West Ham 18th with 10.

DECEMBER:
When the fixtures came out, most said we needed to pick up points early in the month. We did! Two.
1-1 with our lifelong deadly rivals, the other side of Rufus Stone, and 2-2 at Palace, with a “worldy” from Defoe.

That’s another of our 10 commandments in the Premier League.

“Thou shall never cede defeat at Selhurst”

The run into Xmas. Man Utd away, Liverpool home, Man City away.
Even Bob Cratchit was looking forward to a more prosperous Xmas.
And that’s how it turned out. 1-0 at United. Another of the commandments.

“Wherever an AFCB team is assembled, Lukaku will plunder”

Liverpool and City were on another planet, to be honest. 2 X 4-0 defeats.
Would be nice to get something from City one day.

And so Xmas arrived. “We are 3rd from bottom” said Tiny Ryan “Tiz the worst Xmas ever” said Mr Cratchit.
“Fear not, I bring you an Xmas miracle,” said Mr Scrooge.
And it happened.
The Ref of Xmas present allowed Callum to “fist” the ball into the net. And glory shone around.
It’s with a bit of luck like that, that whole seasons change.
The lift of “fist goal” saw us deservedly beat Everton. Ryan with a brace and a late winner.
From 18th to 14th in 4 days.
It’s so damn close.
Just 9 points between 10th place Watford and bottom club Swansea.

JANUARY:

New Years Day at Brighton. 1230ko. You had a choice. A sober new years eve, or just carry on partying through.

Nice point. Thank you very much. How does a club with that much infrastructure only get one point from little Bournemouth all season?

Arsenal on a Sunday. They were getting a lot of stick in the press. Wenger under pressure. It was just set right.
Two quickfire goals in the last 20 minutes turned it around. Our first ever victory over The Gunners.

Arsenal Fan TV was a joy to behold if you haven’t seen it.

A quick return fixture with West Ham was another decent point.

31st Jan 2018. A visit to Chelsea. Reigning champions. Sitting 3rd in the league, with just 16 goals conceded all season.
We were comfortable 1st half. But 2nd half it all went a bit crazy. 3 goals in 16 minutes. 3 up at the Champions.
3 up at the champions (Not a typo, just wanted to say it twice.). Watched the game in the village bar.
French commentary had the scorers as Wheelson, Stanislouse, and A Key.

This night is up there in the “Pick of the Pops” top 10. And if we are honest, we didn’t have to bust a gut to do it.

Could have been 5 or 6.

In 5 weeks from relegation to top half
Sitting 10th.
P25 W7 D7 L11

FEBRUARY:

A double over Stoke. Very satisfying. Shakira scored and then time wasted from the 6th minute taking “Forever, Forever” at all set pieces.
(See what I did there?) Two goals in the last quarter from King and at long last “The Mousse” turned it around again.

7 games unbeaten. Our best spell to date in the Premier League. Huddersfield would be a “gimmie”.
It was a “gimmie.” “Gimmie strength. What was that?”
Live on TV we made Huddersfield look world beaters. 4 goals for a team that struggled all season to find the net.
Very disappointing.

A chance to pull away from the lower order struggle came with the visit of Toon. 2 Dwight Gayle goals, and they were bossing it.
Hey, why play for the whole 90 minutes, when the last 10 will do. Smith and Gosling produced the goods and Newcastle
had a Blaydon long way home with just a point.
My good Geordie friend rang me that evening to congratulate us on the fightback.
Or that’s what I think he said..”You lookey bas****”
P28 W8 D8 L12
11th place on 32 points.
Swansea in 18th on 27 points.
Just 8 points between 19th and 9th.

MARCH:

Back to the AFCB stone scriptures. Yep, Leicester City 1-1.
This one was a bit of a killer tho.
Mahrez with a bit of brilliance with nigh on the last kick.

Spurs at home. I had this all planned. Flying back from Gibraltar, arriving at Heathrow for 2 pm,
and comfortably in the hotel to watch the game by 4 pm.
No, the heavens opened, the mist came down and the flight was diverted to Malaga.

Next, to zero charge on my phone, I had to resort to asking kindly folk in the checking in the queue at Malaga, if they would tell me the score.

1-1. Happy with that at half time.

Off took the plane, landed 3 hours later. Asked the same chap in baggage reclaim the score. 1-4.

Can’t comment on the game, saw none of it.

Was important to get something at home to rock-bottom Baggies, and we did with another late late show.

Looking safe with an 8 point gap to the last relegation spot.

Back to the stone scriptures again. Watford 2-2. We are the late goal kings.

Is it a sign we never give up?

Or more to the point, why do we find ourselves in these difficult positions?

10th place.
P32 W9 D10 L13
9 points from the danger zone.
With all those teams below us to play each other, it was looking fairly safe.

APRIL:

Another late, late show at home to Palace. A stroll in the park for Liverpool and bar missing out on a stonewall
penalty v Utd, it was all a bit predictable. We had the look of a team that had done enough to be safe,

There was one big mission left. Let’s put Southampton in a difficult position within the relegation scrap.

The fans wanted this big style. 59 years since we finished above Southampton in any league.

Hell, I have only been here 57 years, so it hadn’t happened in my lifetime.

Sadly, it just didn’t happen. Equalising on the stroke of half-time gave hope, but it was a limp 2nd half, and Saints won.

The only consolation I got was watching their fans celebrate the winner like Bobby Stokes had just slammed past
Alex Stepney again. It meant so much to them despite the denials that we are not rivals.

So it was back past Rufus Stone with nothing to show for the day out. Disappointing.

MAY:

The win against Swansea made it mathematically safe, although in reality, we were pretty much over the line once
we drew with Palace, to be honest.
And how did we finish it
Coming from behind with late show at Burnley.

All in all, without being great, we finished an excellent 12th.
When I say “without being great”, I mean in the grand scheme of things, and to the standards, we have set in recent years,

A quick mention of the cups.
League Cup. Q/F appearance and could have been our first ever domestic semi-final.?
But we switched off after drawing level at Chelsea.

FA Cup. No comment.

End of term report says B-.
You enjoyed it. I enjoyed it.
UTCIAD

Enjoy your summer holiday.

Will be back to moan about England shortly!

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