Back in 2010, AFC Bournemouth achieved promotion from League 2 at Burton Albion. The actions of Burton, their officials, supporters and staff, that day in allowing Bournemouth and their fans to celebrate have stuck long in the mind of those on the South Coast.
So when, at the last minute, the FA cup tie between the two clubs was postponed on Saturday a suggestion was made on our message board, to see if we could give something back, as a thank you for that day in 2010 and in solidarity with supporters who’ve travelled a long way for no reason, and raise some money to give the Burton fans who travelled down free coaches for the re-arranged fixture.
A fundraising page was set up with the hope of raising around £800. By the end of the day this had been exceeded and nearly £3000 had been donated, enough to fund 2 or 3 coaches and maybe buy a pie for those who are on them.
It’s things like this that make being a football fan worthwhile, but while you seldom see this in the press, it does happen all the time. There’s fewer column inches in people getting along I suppose rather than fighting each other. Whether it is fanzines pushing all their profits to charities, or Millwall FC and their fans supporting Lewisham Hospital’s A&E department in its fight against closure or any one of the number of Fans United days there have been there is a fostering of unity and support amongst football fans that you would barely know existed if you only read the red-tops.
Of course, this altruism to our fellow supporter isn’t reaching to ourselves. Since the fourth round draw was made yesterday there’s been non-stop bickering between fans over who, if (and it’s a big 'if') we beat Burton, should get tickets for the game against Liverpool. This is our first ‘Big’ cup tie at home since we played (and should have beaten) Manchester United in 1989. After season ticket holders have first dibs there’ll only be about 3500 tickets for everyone else. Should they go to people who can still remember the 1957 cup run, those who go to away games, those who don’t go to many games because of finances but have been going for years...
We are victims of our own recent success. Crowds, and season ticket holders, have doubled in the last two years meaning there are fewer ‘spares’ available. Our capacity is only 12000, enough previously for anyone who wanted to get in but now we’re playing in the Championship and have our best side in 25 years there’ll always be someone who misses out when the bigger, more exciting, games come along. Such as the recent friendly against Real Madrid, which saw long term fans both priced out of attendance (£60 a ticket for a glorified friendly still rankles) and also out queued by Ronaldo fans. Short of extending the ground or moving though there’s little that can be done, certainly not in the short term as we’ve already erected a temporary stand.
Still, things can’t be that bad if this is currently all we’ve got to moan about. Since our previous chairman, the non-stop PR gaff machine Eddie Mitchell, left earlier in the season there’s been precious little to get het up about at all. Relative success on the pitch has, for now, succeeded in quietening down the more vocal of our support in matters of finance and how we’re being run. Our debt to our owner continues to grow though and disquiet about what will happen if he leaves will always be rumbling along in the background.
Follow Andy on Twitter, @John_Neptune