Cherries at the Bridge

A fabulous evening at Stamford Bridge as AFC Bournemouth took on Premier League Champions Chelsea for the first time in the top flight. Ben and I had kindly been offered two tickets in the Matthew Harding Stand by my long-standing friend and former bandmate Ian McConnell and having parked locally, we took our seats just as the formalities began about ten minutes before kick off.

I first saw the Cherries live in the old Division 4, against York City on 1 May 1971, so it has been a long journey to watch them in a league match in the glare of the media spotlight and against such giants of the game. Although Bournemouth were under pressure for much of the match, they showed their class on sufficient occasions to make the home crowd uneasy. Time quickly passed and half-time was reached without either goal being truly threatened, although Bournemouth keeper Artur Boruc did have to make a couple of excellent diving saves from shots outside the penalty area.

The second half saw the introduction of the controversial and aggressive Chelsea striker Diego Costa, however although Chelsea did step up their tempo and efforts, they were unable to breach AFCB’s goal. With the home fans’ frustration increasing as the end of the game beckoned, the Cherries won a corner and following a knock back by Steve Cook, substitute Glenn Murray headed the ball into the corner of the net passed a despairing Gary Cahill. Cue total madness amongst the 3,000 travelling masses at the far end of the stadium. The expected counter-assault from Chelsea didn’t materialise to any lasting effect and, in fact, Bournemouth could have quite easily scored a second on the break. A superb and landmark win. We left the ground alongside a multitude of stunned Blues’ fans and, having stopped at a merchandise stall, I then drove us to Ed’s Diner in Soho (appropriately as the Cherries are managed by the legend-in-waiting Eddie Howe) for a celebratory milkshake. Great day.