Continued from Part One.
Written by kirsikka
That significant financial backing had arrived almost out of nowhere a few years previous, although with terrible bad luck merely months after the most talented manager we’d probably ever seen in our history had left the club. It took time to understand what having financial backing meant though but having the owner lash out a large sum to bring Howe back was a moment the veil lifted a little. That was the moment my relationship with the club and with football started to change. All the stuff with Howe prior to that was typical AFC Bournemouth. Suddenly though, we were a predator, not the prey. Reading the despair of the Swindon fans when we whopped £500k in cash down for their star player in the January transfer window to save them from going into administration but messing up their promotion hopes felt like watching the world in reverse.
Even a few years later, having arrived in the Premier League listening to all the plaudits was a joy but tinged with a belief that this was the season I had to enjoy and remember as I’d be looking back at it for the rest of my life. I remember being invited over to a friends house here in Finland. A beer and football watching afternoon with a group of football fans sounded great, only the host was a Spurs fan and they were playing at the same time as our match. I said I was ok for them to watch the Spurs match but only if they put a laptop next to the tv streaming our match at the same time. The belief that this may be, and probably was, only a one season thing and so I couldn’t miss any chance to watch AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League was still so strong. They laughed, thought I was a bit crazy but agreed to put up the laptop as well.
However, it turns out that a Barnsley or Blackpool style visit to the Premier League wasn’t to be our experience. If it had, you could still almost see us dropping back to League One and this becoming some kind of hazy dream from the past that would seem almost unreal. Now though, we’ve had a proper stay in this division. We’ve bloodied plenty of noses. We’ve played with verve and skill. We’ve even occasionally shown grit and determination. There are teams out there that will still see us as an expected six points but I doubt any of them think they only have to turn up to get them. We haven’t come up and been in perennial relegation battles, instead, we’ve proved our worth of being members of this league.
It would appear we’re set for a fifth consecutive Premier League season, barring a disaster of horrifying proportions. That’s what set me off on this whole thought process and takes me back to the start and what it means for the psyche of an AFC Bournemouth fan.
Who knows how long we can be up here or what will happen when we do inevitably drop a level or more. Will we revert to type and become a League One club again? Will the financial overhang of the Premier League period mean something even worse for a time? It’s impossible to say from here but what I do know is I can never go back to having the same outlook on football again.
In those conversations in the future when I meet people and football comes up, when I mention AFC Bournemouth this is the period that will immediately get referenced by others. We’re living it now so it’s hard to see but for many people out there this is the only AFC Bournemouth they know. For the more hardcore football fans, even though they’ll know about other periods, this is still likely what they will want to talk about.
If in the future we were stuck back in mid-table League One of what would my football dreams then consist? It’s so hard to see because the barriers of what seems realistic have been completely obliterated. At this moment I find it hard to imagine what that hypothetical future me will be thinking.
A 15-year-old AFC Bournemouth fan who only got into football around age 8 or 9 has only ever really known us as a club in the top two tiers. That’s mind-blowing for me and I’m almost scared for them! Their expectations for the club and where it sits in the pantheon of football must be so far removed from mine.
Even though my own life situation has meant that since December 2013 I’ve only been able to experience it from afar, one match aside, it’s still been a life-changing experience for me. I said right at the start that AFC Bournemouth was one of the axes around which my life rotated and I think I’m still going through a period of adjustment to allow for the fact that this particular axis has tilted dramatically in a way I wasn’t expecting.
Whether we suddenly come apart and go down soon or somehow how hang on and spend a significant period at the top tier, whether we yo-yo up and down for a few years or drop like a stone I’ll still unwaveringly follow the club. I don’t think that’s especially unusual to anyone that posts on here, you’ll almost all be the same. However, my outlook and has been irrevocably changed and I think it’s still going to be many years before I’m able to really understand exactly how that will take shape. I guess that will be the same for many fans of AFC Bournemouth.
Can identify with all of that (and add in the Bond years as well).
As for me, all I can say is that I am hugely enjoying the ride and I must admit I don’t think much past the next couple of games.
After the stress of being closely involved with the club through all the administration seasons, everything that happened from then on paled into insignificance compared to the very real possibility of no football club at all.
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