HE arrived with the club on its knees and leaves with it standing tall.
Eddie Mitchell’s four-year tenure as Cherries chairman has been highly eventful and hugely successful.
Often outspoken and sometimes controversial, Mitchell will ultimately be remembered as the man who brought back the glory days to Dean Court.
Asked to come aboard by Adam Murry in June 2009, Mitchell helped steady the ship after Cherries had pulled off the Greatest Escape.
In the space of four years, he hauled the club from the depths of League Two to the upper reaches of the Championship.
He achieved what the majority of supporters had felt would be a mission impossible, breathing new life into a club which had been left for dead.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo, Mitchell said: “When I first arrived, I wasn’t surprised by some of the attitudes towards the club because I don’t think it was in a very good place and hadn’t been for a considerable period of time.
“There was no direction or leadership and it didn’t have particularly good qualities because nobody had kept it in line. It had been wandering for many years. If there is a boat in the sea, it needs steering. If it wanders, it gets nowhere.
“It has been my nature all my life to get hold of something and sort it out. It was natural to me. The only hardship was taking my eye of the ball with my own much larger business but that is what football does. It hypnotises you and pulls you in. It certainly did that with me.
“The club didn’t have people behind it and there were also people that wanted it to fail. What has been achieved over the past four years has been a triumph for the supporters and a defeat for those who wanted it to fail. It took a while to get the club into that frame of mind and for people to have that self belief.
“The symbol on our badge is of somebody holding their head high – I think the club can do that now.”
Mitchell’s legacy will also include persuading Maxim Demin to invest in the club, the pair joining forces in October 2011. Together, they have taken Cherries to a new level, both on and off the pitch.
“I am leaving the club in the hands of a family man which is good,” said Mitchell. “It is not as if someone has bought it as a toy. Max is fanatical about football and probably knows a lot more than me about the game.
“I am leaving it with a man who is hungry for success and someone who has the capability to give the club a fantastic future. If the supporters stay behind the owner, the club will be playing at a high level for a long time to come and will really find its fortunes. Max has good values and the club is in good hands.”
Mitchell, who has also courted controversy during his reign, added: “I wouldn’t want to change one second of my time at the club from good to bad.
“It has taught me so much about myself and about people. When you are in a small business environment, you mix with the same sort of people and don’t mix with the general public. I think the experience of mixing with the general public and trying to get them on my side has been a great eye-opener for me.
“I have dealt with supporters who are out of work and some of the richest people in the country. It has given me a great opportunity.
“It has been a great journey and I am moving on at the right time to let the club continue its progress. Unless you can live longer than the club, and nobody can, the club is always going to be bigger.
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