A.F.C. Bournemouth is a professional football club in Bournemouth, Dorset, that play in the Premier League, the top tier of the English football league system. Formed in 1890 as Boscombe St. John's Institute F.C., the club adopted their current name in 1972. Nicknamed The Cherries, since 1910 Bournemouth have played their home games at Dean Court.
Although the exact date of the club's foundation is not known, there is proof that it was formed in the autumn of 1899 out of the remains of the older Boscombe St. John's Institute F.C. The club was originally known as Boscombe F.C. The first president was Mr. J. C. Nutt. In their first season, 1899–1900, Boscombe F.C. competed in the Bournemouth and District Junior League. They also played in the Hants Junior Cup. During the first two seasons, they played on a football pitch in Castlemain Avenue, Pokesdown. From their third season, the team played on a pitch in King's Park. In the 1905–06 season, Boscombe F.C. graduated to senior amateur football.
In 1910, the club was granted a long lease over some wasteland next to Kings Park as the club's football ground by local businessman J.E. Cooper-Dean. With their own ground, named Dean Court after the benefactor, the club continued to thrive and dominated the local football scene. The same year the club signed its first professional player Baven Penton.
Around about this time, the club obtained their nickname "The Cherries," with two foremost tales on how the club gained the nickname. First, because of the cherry-red striped shirts that the team played in and, perhaps less plausible, because Dean Court was built adjacent to the Cooper-Dean estate, which, it is believed may have encompassed numerous cherry orchards.
For the first time, during the 1913–14 season, the club competed in the FA Cup. The club's progress, however, was halted in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, and Boscombe F.C. returned to the Hampshire League. In 1920, the Third Division of the Football League was formed, and Boscombe were promoted to the Southern League, finding moderate success.
To make the club more representative of the district, the name was changed to Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic F.C. in 1923. During the same year, the club was elected to the newly-expanded Football League Third Division. The first league match was at Swindon Town on 25 August 1923, which Bournemouth lost 3–1. The first league game at Dean Court was also against Swindon, where Bournemouth gained their first league point after a 0–0 draw.
Initially, Bournemouth struggled in the Football League but eventually established themselves as a Third Division club. Bournemouth remains on the records as the longest continuous members of the Third Division. As a league club, Bournemouth had to wait until after the Second World War before winning their first trophy. This was accomplished as they beat Walsall in the Third Division (South) Cup in the final at Stamford Bridge.
Under manager John Bond, the club adopted the more streamlined A.F.C. Bournemouth name in 1972. At the same time, the club adopted a new badge as a symbol of the club's progress. The stripes in the background were based on the club shirt, while in the foreground is the profile of a player heading the ball, in honour of Dickie Dowsett, a prolific scorer for the club in the 1950s and 1960s. Their red and black kit, introduced in 1971, was based on the A.C. Milan strip. This was the era of Ted MacDougall, a prolific goalscorer who, in an FA Cup tie in November 1971, scored nine goals in an 11–0 win against Margate.
The club recorded a famous victory over holders Manchester United in the FA Cup in January 1984, while they were managed by Harry Redknapp. Redknapp took Bournemouth into the second tier of the English league for the first time in their history as Third Division champions in 1987. After comfortably surviving in their first season in the Second Division, Bournemouth made a serious challenge for promotion to the top flight in the 1988–89 season; they ultimately fell away after a poor run late in the season, but their eventual finish of 12th place remained their highest-ever in the Football League until the 2013–14 season.
On 5 May 1990, the final day of the 1989–90 season, Leeds United had the chance to win the Second Division and gain promotion into the First Division by beating Bournemouth at Dean Court. Some United fans had already caused trouble in the town during the morning and the atmosphere was tense as Leeds won the match by a single goal. Combined with the results of other matches, this meant that Leeds were promoted while Bournemouth were relegated.
The violence and destruction by visitors to Bournemouth continued over the holiday weekend, causing more than £1 million worth of damage and injury to opposing fans and police officers. The town's Daily Echo newspaper reported that "spectators, including many young children, had to run to safety as missiles were hurled and riot police waded in to control the crowds." The matter was raised in Parliament by one of the town's MPs. Financially, the Leeds trouble affected the club for more than a decade, as Bournemouth were prevented by local police from staging home games on Bank Holidays (traditionally a popular day for football) until a game against Shrewsbury Town on 21 April 2003.
Redknapp remained at the club for two more seasons, both of which ended with the club falling three points short of the play-offs. However, mounting financial pressures caused him to resign his position at the end of the 1991–92 season, and he subsequently rejoined former club West Ham United as a coach. He was replaced by Tony Pulis, who built a much cheaper squad that could only manage two consecutive 17th-place finishes before Pulis walked out of the club, blaming financial pressures.
Bournemouth went the first few months of the 1994–95 season without a permanent manager in place, and a dreadful start saw them bottom of the table for much of the first half of the season. Despite a minor upturn in form when Mel Machin was appointed as manager, they looked highly unlikely to survive, given that there were five relegation spots in Division Two for that season due to league reconstruction. However, a late run of form combined with collapses by relegation rivals Cambridge United and Plymouth Argyle saw them survive on the last day of the season by two points.
Machin ultimately remained in charge for six years, most of which were marked by unremarkable mid-table finishes. The 1998–99 season proved to be arguably the highlight of his tenure, with the club making a serious playoff challenge for most of the season, but ultimately falling short and finishing seventh. However, a drop to 16th place in the 1999–2000 season followed by a poor start to the following season saw Machin removed from his position and given the role of director of football.
Sean O'Driscoll was promoted from the coaching staff in place of Mel Machin at the start of the 2000–01 season. In O'Driscoll's first season as manager, Bournemouth narrowly missed out on the Division Two playoffs but were relegated a year later in the new stadium (in the early part of the 2001–02 season, they played their home matches at Dorchester Town's ground while their own stadium was being redeveloped). The board kept faith in O'Driscoll and they were rewarded with promotion via the Division Three playoffs in 2002–03. The club became the first to score five goals at the Millennium Stadium when they beat Lincoln City 2–5 in the 2002–03 Division Three play-off final with goals from Steve Fletcher, Carl Fletcher (2), Stephen Purches and Garreth O'Connor. Under O'Driscoll, Bournemouth narrowly missed out on the play-offs for the 2003–04 and 2004–05 seasons, and just avoided relegation in the 2005–06 season.
Long-serving player James Hayter scored the fastest league hat-trick in English Football League history during the 2003–04 season. The Cherries were leading 3–0 against Wrexham thanks to goals from Stephen Purches, Warren Cummings and Warren Feeney when Hayter was brought onto the field as a substitute. With 86 minutes gone, Hayter managed to net three goals in the space of two minutes and 17 seconds, making the final score 6–0 to Bournemouth. In September 2006, with the team in eighth in the League, Sean O'Driscoll left to become manager of Doncaster Rovers. He was replaced by Kevin Bond.
In February 2008, Bournemouth were forced into administration, suffering a ten-point deduction which put them in relegation trouble. Bournemouth had debts of around £4 million and almost went out of business completely. The off-field uncertainty continued throughout the season, with only one, ultimately unsuccessful, bid for the club accepted, and the club ended the season being relegated to League Two.
Ahead of the 2008–09 season, the team's future in the Football League was put into doubt when the league threatened to block Bournemouth's participation in League Two, due to problems with the team's continuing administration and change in ownership. It ordered both Bournemouth and Rotherham United to demonstrate that they could fulfil all of their fixtures and find a way out of administration, eventually allowing the club to compete with a 17-point penalty for failing to follow the Football League insolvency rules. The new company was also ordered to pay unsecured creditors the amount offered at the time of the original CVA (around ten pence in the pound) within two years.
Early into the season, manager Bond was sacked and was replaced by former player Jimmy Quinn, who would himself leave the club only a few months later. Former player Eddie Howe took over as manager with the club still ten points adrift at the bottom of the league and initially on a caretaker basis, becoming the youngest manager in the Football League at the age of 31. At the end of 2008, it was announced that local businessman Adam Murry had completed the purchase of 50% of the club's shares from previous chairman, Paul Baker. However, in January 2009, Murry missed the deadline to buy Baker's shares.
In the final home game of the 2008–09 season, the Cherries guaranteed their Football League status by beating Grimsby Town 2–1 with a winning goal ten minutes from time by Bournemouth's Steve Fletcher, sparking wild celebrations after a fairytale ending to "The Great Escape." They finished their troubled season with their best away win in 30 years with a 0–4 victory at Morecambe. In June 2009, a consortium including Adam Murry finally took over A.F.C. Bournemouth. The consortium included Jeff Mostyn, former vice-chairman Steve Sly, Neill Blake and former Dorchester Town chairman Eddie Mitchell.
Howe's first full season in charge brought success as Bournemouth finished second in League Two to earn promotion with two games to spare. Howe subsequently left the club for Burnley during the following season; his successor, another former Bournemouth player, Lee Bradbury, led Bournemouth to the League One play-offs. The two-legged semi-final against Huddersfield Town finished 3–3 after extra time, and Huddersfield went through the final by winning the penalty shoot-out 4–2. Bradbury was unable to lead Bournemouth to another promotion challenge in the 2011–12 Football League One, placing 11th after a season of indifferent results, and was replaced by youth team coach Paul Groves for the final games of the season.
Groves remained in charge at the start of the 2012–13 season, only to be sacked in October 2012 following a start which left the club near the bottom of the table. Eddie Howe returned as manager, and not only did he pull the club away from their early-season relegation battle, they achieved promotion to the Championship, returning to the second-tier of English football for the first time since 1990. The club also revealed a new club crest. After a promising start to life in the Championship, the club was handed a fourth Round FA Cup tie with Premier League club Liverpool which ended in a 2–0 loss. Bournemouth finished their first season back in the Championship in tenth place, their highest ever position in the Football League.
On 25 October 2014, Bournemouth won 8–0 away at St. Andrew's against Birmingham City. It was the first time that the Cherries had ever scored eight goals in a league game and their largest winning margin in the league (barring a 10–0 win over Northampton Town in September 1939, which was discounted after the league was abandoned due to the Second World War). The club followed up this success with a 2–1 victory over Premier League side West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup, reaching the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time. Bournemouth were again drawn against Liverpool but lost 3–1. The club spent most of the 2014–15 season near the top of the table, and a 0–3 win away at Charlton Athletic on the final day of the season was enough to clinch the Championship title and a first-ever promotion to the top flight of English football.
Bournemouth's first ever game in the top flight of English football was a 1–0 defeat home to Aston Villa played on 8 August 2015. Early on in the 2015–16 season the team was beset by a number of crippling injuries, including to their captain, Tommy Elphick and their star striker from the previous season, Callum Wilson, the latter of which was injured for the majority of the season. The team struggled for most of the first half of the season until a turning point was reached during a game at Dean Court against Everton in which Junior Stanislas scored a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time to tie the game. From there, Bournemouth defeated Chelsea and Manchester United in back-to-back wins. The team eventually finished 16th in the league, securing their Premier League status for another year.
Their second season, despite being largely tipped to suffer second season syndrome, they defied all odds to finish in 9th place. Their squad was largely defined by the highly publicized loans of Jack Wilshere from Arsenal and Nathan Aké from Chelsea, but also by the strong form of Josh King, who scored 16 goals in 36 appearances, and the £15 million pound move of Jordon Ibe from Liverpool. A weak start to the season saw them in the relegation zone for the first three weeks, but after a 1–0 victory against West Bromwich Albion, they never again dropped below 16th place in the table. Key points of the season occurred when they soundly defeated Hull City 6–1 and defeated Liverpool 4–3, both of which helped their survival push at the end of the season, when they went unbeaten in the last five matches and earned 11 points from a possible 15.
In preparation for the following season, Howe signed Aké permanently for a club-record fee, while Asmir Begović and Jermain Defoe also signed deals at Dean Court. The season began poorly, with the team losing their first 4 matches. However, a run of good form through late December and January saw them steer clear the relegation zone, and saw Howe earn his second Premier League Manager of the Month award. They won 2–1 at home against Arsenal, had a 3–0 victory at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea and gained 19 points from losing positions in the second half of the season; a Premier League Record. The team battled inconsistent form the rest of the season, but still managed a 12th place finish.
** – Colours – **
The team's colours have varied slightly throughout the club's history. Starting off playing in red and white stripes, Bournemouth have also played in all-red shirts, red with white sleeves, and mostly, since 1990, in red and black stripes, similar to that of Milan. A predominantly red shirt was chosen for the 2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons before a return to the stripes for the 2006–07 season due to fan demand.
Since 2017 Bournemouth's kit has been manufactured by Umbro. Previously it has been made by Umbro (1974–78, 1983–86), Adidas (1978–81), Osca (1982–83), Henson (1986–87), Scoreline (1987–90), Ellgren (1990–92), Matchwinner (1993–95), Le Coq Sportif (1995–96), Patrick (1996–2000), Super League (200-01), TFG Sportswear (2001–03), Bourne Red (2003–08), Carbrini Sportswear (2008–11, 2014–15), Fila (2011–14) and JD Sports (2015–17).
In 1910 Boscombe F.C. was given a piece of land by the town's Cooper-Dean family, after whom the ground was named. The land was the site of an old gravel pit, and the ground was not built in time for the start of the 1910–11 season. As a result, the club played at the adjacent King's Park until moving into Dean Court in December 1910. However, the club facilities were still not ready, and players initially had to change in a nearby hotel. Early developments at the ground included a 300-seat stand.
In 1923 the club were elected to Division Three South of the Football League, at which point they changed their name to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic. The first Football League match was played at Dean Court on 1 September 1923, with 7,000 watching a 0–0 draw with Swindon Town. Subsequent ground improvements were made following the purchase of fittings from the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, which allowed the construction of a 3,700-seat stand. A covered terrace was added at the southern end of the ground in 1936.
The club's record League attendance was set on 14 April 1948, when 25,495 watched a 1–0 defeat to QPR. The overall record attendance was set on 2 March 1957, when 28,799 spectators watched an FA Cup match against Manchester United. Shortly afterwards, a roof was added to the western stand. The club also purchased more land behind the northern end of the ground, with the intention of enlarging the stand and building a leisure centre. However, the club ran out of money during its construction and abandoned the scheme in 1984. As a result, the half-built structure was demolished and housing was built on that part of the site. The club's lowest Football League attendance was set on 4 March 1986, when only 1,873 saw a 2–2 drawn with Lincoln City.
The ground was completely rebuilt in 2001, with the pitch rotated ninety degrees from its original position and the ground moved away from adjacent housing. Because the work was not finished in time for the start of the 2001–02 season, Bournemouth played their first eight games at the Avenue Stadium in nearby Dorchester. When Dean Court reopened with a game against Wrexham on 10 November, it gained its first sponsored name, becoming the Fitness First Stadium. Although it was rebuilt as a three sided stadium with a capacity of 9,600, seats were placed on the undeveloped south end in the autumn of 2005. The club sold the stadium in December 2005 in a sale-and-leaseback deal with London property company Structadene.
In the 2010–11 a temporary south stand was built, but was removed during the 2011–12 season after attendances fell. In July 2011 the stadium was renamed the Seward Stadium after the naming rights were sold to the Seward Motor Group. Following Seward entering administration in February 2012, the ground was subsequently renamed the Goldsands Stadium in a two-year deal. During the summer of 2013 a 2,400 seat stand was built on the undeveloped end of the ground as a result of the club's promotion to the Championship League. In July 2013 it was named after former club striker Ted MacDougall.
In August 2014, chairman Jeff Mostyn revealed that the club were looking at the possibility of redeveloping the stadium rather than moving to Matchams. With a limited capacity of 11,464, the club were exploring the option of building a new, permanent stand and filling-in the stadium's corners should they continue to be successful in the Premier League. The naming rights changed once more in July 2015 when the stadium became the Vitality Stadium.
In May 2016, Bournemouth announced that they will not be adding new capacity to its ground in time for the next Premier League season. The club has taken the decision to delay redevelopment plans following a meeting of its board. A statement from the Cherries blamed "ongoing negotiations with the club's landlord to purchase the stadium". The club had previously said improving the stadium's size was needed as "demand for tickets far outweighs our current capacity". Dean Court remains the smallest ground in the Premier League.
In December 2016 the club announced plans to find a new site due to the ongoing issues regarding ownership of the ground. In July 2017 the club confirmed it was looking to build a new stadium near the current site in Kings Park. In 2013 both England Ladies and Under 16 sides played games at the ground. The stadium has also been used for music concerts, hosting Elton John in 2006.
** – Facilities – **
With the majority of positions located pitchside, ponchos and blankets (subject to availability) are available during inclement weather. All elevated viewing positions are fully undercover. All personal assistants sit adjacent to wheelchair users. Service to seat is available to all of the elevated platforms and both card and cash are accepted methods of payment. Food and drink orders will be taken by concourse staff during the first half and delivered to your seat at half time.
Bookings should be submitted in advance of the match and places will be allocated and confirmed two days prior to the match to ensure use of the platform is fairly distributed across the season. Wheelchair storage is available for all supporters. To book, supporters are required to contact the Disability Access Officer.
The sensory pack comes in an AFC Bournemouth draw string bag and includes-
Please click here for additional information on all accessible toilets at the Vitality Stadium.
** – Catering / Emergency – **
Catering is available in all concourse areas based around the ground, offering a variety of refreshments, including vegetarian options. Each concourse counter has a low-level service counter. Handheld menus are also available within all concourses areas, and these can be found at the low-level service counters. Stewards are located in the concourse before, during and after the game so if you need any assistance at all, they will be more than happy to help.
Disabled persons within the hospitality areas of the stadium will be escorted by stewards to the nearest escape refuge point. A steward in possession of a radio will remain at the refuge point until such time as evacuation is completed. Visually impaired supporters will be evacuated with the assistance of stewards. Stewards should pay particular attention to the elderly or persons with impaired movement who may require assistance.
** – Purchasing Tickets – **
To buy tickets, supporters must be registered with the ticket office and have the correct number of loyalty points required for that match. Details of the points required, and the on-sale details can be found at the following link. If in receipt of the required number of loyalty points, supporters can purchase tickets by calling the ticket office on 0344 576 1910, option 1, in person at the ticket office or online by clicking here.
You may be asked to provide proof of eligibility for your complimentary personal assistant’s ticket. The club accepts the following documents:
The ticket office is based in the Superstore on days when no match is scheduled. Opening times are:
The superstore is located at the North-West corner of the stadium, and can be accessed via wide manual double doors, or through the single door with an accessible touch pad entry system. Inside it is spacious, and level. The superstore can get extremely busy on a matchday. It will be quieter at least 2 hours before kick-off and 30 minutes after the game, with non-matchdays considerably quieter.
Supporters with any of the above will be entitled to a free match ticket for their personal assistant to accompany them on matchdays. The personal assistant should be capable of supporting the disabled person’s needs in the event of an emergency. Please note, the club reserves the right to request evidence to support this where necessary and require the disabled supporter and their PA to enter the ground and sit together. Seats for personal assistants are located next to the disabled supporter’s seat. The club’s health and safety policy requires that disabled supporters who attend in a wheelchair remain in their wheelchair during the game.
1910 Club Bar / DC Lounge.
Home disabled supporters are welcome to use the 1910 Club Bar, which is based in the Vitality Main Stand. The bar is located on the first floor and lift access is available through main reception. The bar is open from three hours before kick-off on matchday. Hot food, and drinks are available, and there is a bistro area with tables and chairs available in the corner area of the bar. The majority of televised fixtures on a home matchday will be shown on a big screen, and various smaller TVs around the room. There is an accessible toilet also located on the same floor as the 1910 club bar. The 1910 club bar reopens after the match for an hour and a half.
The DC Lounge is open to both home and visiting disabled supporters pre-match. The DC Lounge is based on the ground floor and first floor in the Vitality East Stand for the use of disabled supporters and their PA’s. This offers screens showing an live matches on Sky/BT Sport, a refreshment service of complimentary hot drinks, team sheets and a matchday quiz to test your footballing knowledge. There are also two accessible toilets, located on the first floor and a lift service is available. There is level access into the entrance, and the main door(s) open towards you (pull). The doors are double width, and the opening is 160cm (5ft 3in) wide. The DC Lounge has proved a really popular place for disabled supporters to meet and socialise.
The club offers 41 accessible parking spaces on site at the Vitality Stadium. These are issued on a seasonal, free of charge basis and are prioritised by season ticket status and rate of mobility received.
Parking is also available to the south of the ground for just £1 for the duration of the match. The club’s policy is to reserve a bay for the use of disabled supporters for as long as possible. The fee is payable on entrance to the car park upon production of a valid match ticket. Supporters wishing to park at the ground are advised to arrive early as the car park usually reaches capacity around 75 minutes before kick-off. Supporters may experience delays in leaving the car park after the final whistle. Please be aware, there is a left turn at the exit of the south end of the car park, which will bring you out on to Gloucester Road in Boscombe. Access from this car park to the Stadium is step free and up to 100m in distance.
Free matchday parking is available at Harewood College, which is a 10-minute walk across the park to Vitality Stadium. This parking facility has the advantage of being away from the congestion around Kings Park, and will be manned by a steward until kick-off. The postcode for Harewood College is BH7 6NZ. Alternatively, the Sovereign Shopping Centre on Christchurch Road, which is approximately a 15-minute walk from the ground, offers low cost easy parking (£2 for 4 hours), with 600 spaces. This parking facility has the advantage of being away from the congestion and has cafés for food and snacks.
Several residential roads adjacent to the ground have parking restrictions, which the club asks supporters to adhere to. Please be mindful of existing drive entrances and avoid parking illegally as this can cause particular problems for residents and is a safety hazard. Parking enforcement officers and police will respond to residents’ complaints. Car parking is also available upon request to visiting disabled supporters. Visiting supporters will need to contact the DAO in advance of the matchday, should they wish to book a car parking space by either calling 01202 726311 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The matchday parking attendants do allow for disabled supporters without parking to be dropped off in the main car park. Thistlebarrow Road is also recognised as a main pick up point, providing it is not within the coned areas.
Getting to Dean Court By Train
Pokesdown Station: The nearest train station to the stadium is Pokesdown, which is roughly a mile from the ground and around a 15-minute walk away. This station is not currently accessible for wheelchair users. There is no step free access or staff assistance currently at Pokesdown Station. Exit the station and turn right down the main Christchurch Road (A35) for 400m and turn right into Gloucester Road. Follow signs for Kings Park to arrive at Vitality Stadium. For more information please click here.
Bournemouth Station: A large number of trains arrive at Bournemouth Central, which is 1.3 miles from the stadium and a 30-minute walk. Bournemouth Central is accessible and offers step free access and ramp access onto trains. Wheelchairs are available and the station is staffed 24 hours a day, they also have a fitted induction loop. To get to the stadium, leave the station by the south exit, (facing Asda) and turn left to head towards the main road. Turn left again and walk straight up Holdenhurst Road for around 25 minutes, until you reach a roundabout at which you turn right into Kings Park Drive. The ground is on the left. For more information please click here.
Getting to Dean Court By Bus
Yellow buses: The 2/2a/2b Yellow Bus service is accessible from the train station and runs up to every 20 minutes. Alight at Ashley Road to get within 5 minutes of the ground. A step free access route is available through the park from Ashley Road to the stadium, and Yellow Buses offer enough room for one wheelchair. If you want to make a day out of your trip, then this bus also serves Bournemouth Pier and Bournemouth Square where you can find plenty of shops and places to eat and drink before heading to the ground, with an adult day ticket priced at £4. To plan your journey or for more information please click here.
More buses: The M1/M2 More Bus service runs from Pokesdown Station and brings supporters closer to the stadium via Boscombe. All supporters with a valid match ticket can receive a £1 discount on dayrider tickets, which makes unlimited travel between Bournemouth, Boscombe and the ground just £3.10 (prices for other travel zones may vary). All the buses are equipped with free wifi and USB charging facilities. To plan your journey or for more information please click here.
Getting to Dean Court By Taxi
United Taxis are adapted so that they’re easily accessible. Their taxis include:
Location : AFC Bournemouth, Vitality Stadium, Dean Court, Kings Park, BH7 7AF
Transport: Pokesdown (National) then bus or walk (see above) OR Bournemouth (National Rail) then bus or walk (see above). Bus Routes: Yellow Bus 2, 2A, and 2B from Bournemouth OR More Bus M1 and M2 from Pokesdown (see above).
Capacity : 11,329
Tel: 0344 576 1910