IN every season of success there are watershed moments.
Some just happen, a match on which the tide gets turned before a push for unparalleled glory, but Cherries’ date with destiny in 1987 was more obvious – everyone had the sense something special could happen on Tuesday, March 3.
Having clambered to the Division Three summit with a 3-0 success over York City three days previously, Harry Redknapp’s title-chasing charges were faced with the league’s big guns, Middlesbrough.
While more than 300 miles separate the two towns, the gap was a mere three points heading into the pivotal Dean Court clash which attracted in excess of 13,000 paying punters.
Ninety fraught minutes later, Cherries had taken a giant stride towards the second tier as Mark Newson’s powerful far post finish, Sean O’Driscoll’s thundering effort via the underside of the crossbar and Trevor Aylott’s coolly converted penalty sealed a 3-1 victory.
Cherries moved six points clear and never relinquished top spot on their way to the championship.
Wing wizard Richard Cooke had joined the party from Tottenham Hotspur in January. He netted the opener in a 3-0 win over another promotion rival, Notts County, on his debut, but the Boro match was always the one which stuck in his mind.
“It was one of the biggest crowds Dean Court had seen for many years,” recalled Cooke. “I remember thinking before the game that we were really moving on to another level.
“Middlesbrough were doing well at the time and had some outstanding talent like Gary Pallister and Tony Mowbray at the back, Colin Cooper as well.
“Traditionally, Bournemouth was not considered a big club like Middlesbrough and for us to beat a high-profile team with their top players was really good for our confidence.
“We did really get at them from the off. Night games were always great at Dean Court and with that sort of crowd it just felt like no one could stop us, we were heading in the right direction and that was that.”
How apt, then, that Cherries could make more history against the very same opponents tomorrow afternoon.
On the back of three straight victories with clean sheets, a fourth against Boro would break the club’s second tier record with Cooke adamant the current crop are destined for bigger things.
Cooke, now a 48-year-old black cab driver, took in Cherries’ 5-0 hammering of Doncaster Rovers 13 days ago and added: “There were so many similarities to our side in terms of the determination. They probably had more flair than we did but collectively, they looked very good.
“I can really see Bournemouth pushing for the Premier League within the next five years. With the backing the club has now, if the players can stick together there is no reason why they can’t push on.”