The exact date of Bournemouth’s foundation is unknown but we do know that a team called Boscombe St. John’s Institute FC eventually became Boscombe Football Club sometime in the autumn of 1899, subsequently became Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic FC in 1923 and finally was renamed AFC Bournemouth in 1971.
During those decades of name changes, the club languished in the lower reaches of English football - regional leagues and lower leagues. They still hold a record as at one time being the longest continuous members of the Football League’s Third Division. Their only real silverware at that time came just after the Second World War when they captured the Third Division South Cup, beating Walsall at Stamford Bridge in the final.
A few decades prior in December 1910, when the club was still competing as Boscombe, they were granted a lease to some land. This former gravel pit would go on to become Dean Court, still their home to this day. The stadium has since been renamed the Vitality Stadium and holds a modest 11,000 fans, making it the smallest ever stadium to host a Premier League match - more on that later.
It was around this time that the club gained the nickname, ‘The Cherries’. There are two main stories as to why the club would be called such a name. Firstly the cherry red striped shirts the side wore at that time and secondly the fact that Dean Court was built next to the Cooper-Dean estate which included many cherry orchards on its grounds.
The late 1980s were a period of relative success for the perpetual minnows. In 1984, under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp, they won the Associate Members Cup - today known as the EFL Trophy. In 1987, they won their first ever league title when they were promoted to the Second Division as champions. They subsequently made some legitimate bids to reach the top flight over the next couple of seasons but eventually fell away and due to financial trouble they were relegated back to Division Three, as Redknapp left the club.
Bournemouth didn’t really make many headlines until the 2000s. After a period of financial turmoil left the club in administration and on the brink of dropping out of the football league altogether, a 31 year old former player Eddie Howe took over as temporary first team coach. It was Howe who pulled off the famous “Great Escape” which kept the club in League Two, the lowest level of the Football League. The following season Howe took this success one step further and guided Bournemouth to second place and promotion.
Either side of a brief, uneventful hiatus in which Howe tried his luck at Burnley, the once youngest manager in English football led The Cherries to two promotions inside three years and from the third tier all the way to the Premier League. The 2015-16 season marked their first appearance in the English top flight in their entire history. Howe put together a squad made up of mostly British players of Football League backgrounds and not only coached them into a team capable of reaching the Premier League but also moulded them into a fully established Premier League side. It truly is an accomplishment never to be forgotten on the south coast.
The likes of Steve Cook, Harry Arter, Charlie Daniels and Ryan Fraser went from the third tier to the top flight and became household names and in some cases international players in the process. Callum Wilson scored 20 goals in their Championship promotion campaign and continued to perform well in the Premier League. Many great names were made during those years but unfortunately several of The Cherries’ best assets left the squad when they were eventually relegated at the end of the 2019-20 season. Eddie Howe left the club he had spent 25 years with as a player and manager after their relegation and his former assistant Jason Tindall took over. The team are now competitive in the Championship and hoping to get back to the promised land as soon as possible to treat their fans to derby days against their local rivals Southampton.