MARK Newson – the man who captained Cherries during their finest hour – believes the glory days could be back on the horizon for the Dorset club.

Newson, who skippered Cherries into the second tier of the Football League for the first and only time in their history, tonight returns to Dean Court with Stevenage (7.45pm).

The 51-year-old, a popular goalscoring defender during his playing days with Cherries, was appointed as Gary Smith’s assistant at Broadhall Way when Graham Westley left for Preston in January.

Newson was a mainstay as Cherries rewrote the record books by claiming the old Division Three title under Harry Redknapp in 1987 and is one of only five men to have lifted silverware for the club.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo, Newson said: “I don’t think you can fail to have noticed what has gone on at the club this season.

“They are the form team and have had some terrific results since Eddie Howe returned. We are expecting a tough game because their home form is excellent. They are playing some good stuff and are scoring goals.

“It is early days but they are on a terrific run. It is no secret they have some decent backing and, with their resources, I am sure they will be up there challenging with a few of the other teams with the big budgets in this division.

“I would imagine they are probably a little disappointed they are not there now. But maybe they will strengthen again in January so are expected to be there or thereabouts with the Sheffield Uniteds and Swindons.”

Newson, who made 177 league appearances for Cherries between 1985 and 1990, spoke recently with former Dean Court team-mate Shaun Brooks who, together with Paul Groves, was relieved of the managerial reins last month.

“I know Shaun very well and saw him last week when our youth team played their youth team,” added Newson. “I think what happened came as a shock to him. I asked him if there had been a massive turnaround since Eddie took over and he said there hadn’t been a huge difference in team selection.

“It appears to have been just the change which sometimes happens. Shaun and Paul have gone back to the youth team and you move on. I think they were a bit unfortunate with a few things and who is to say that, given a week or two, they may have got it right.

“We will never know. I would like to have seen them do well but that is the nature of the beast.”

Fifth-placed Stevenage started the season with an 11-match unbeaten run in the league but arrive at Goldsands Stadium having lost three of their past four games, including successive 4-1 defeats against Preston and Sheffield United.

Newson added: “We have had a great start but have had a few hiccups recently. We have got a tough November. We are the poor relation in the top six or seven and our start has kept us up there. We have been conceding goals recently and that isn’t like us. We need to address that.”