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AFC Bournemouth: Forde's career sparked by Dean Court loan spell
DEAN Court marked a defining chapter in the career of goalkeeper David Forde.
A relative journeyman until he joined Cherries on loan in March 2008, Forde’s big break came during a crucial League One relegation showdown against Millwall.
The Irishman finally arrived from Cardiff City after a previous attempt to sign him during the January transfer window had bitten the dust due to Cherries being placed under an embargo.
During his early years, Forde had plied his trade with Galway United, Barry Town and Derry City, his spells in non-league separated by a fruitless stay at West Ham.
And despite having high hopes after earning a return to the professional ranks with Cardiff in December 2006, Forde again found his game time limited with the Welsh outfit.
Kevin Bond, desperate for cover due to a goalkeeping crisis and with cash-strapped Cherries in administration, swooped for Forde and immediately threw him in at the deep end.
Signed initially for just seven days, Forde made an inauspicious start, a mix up with Neil Young gifting Leeds United an opening goal during a 2-0 defeat at Elland Road on his debut.
Another 2-0 reserve at Oldham followed, a defeat which left Cherries 11 points adrift of safety and with just nine games remaining to save their bacon.
Forde’s deal was extended until the end of the season, the stopper starring as Cherries went on to collect 22 points from a possible 27 – only to lose their fight on the final day at Carlisle.
However, Forde’s heroics during a 2-0 victory over relegation rivals Millwall, the second of six successive wins, saw him catch the eye of Lions manager Kenny Jackett.
And while Maxi Gradel’s second-half double earned Bond’s charges a fourth home win on the bounce, Forde’s exploits eventually led to him winning a contract with the Londoners.
His outstanding display, capped by a stunning penalty save from Neil Harris, was enough to persuade Jackett to offer Forde a two-year contract following his release by Cardiff at the end of the season.
Since then, Forde has established himself as the undisputed number one at the Den, the stopper ever-present as the Lions reached the League One play-off final in his first two seasons.
His efforts helped Millwall clinch a return to the Championship at the expense of Swindon Town in 2010, with Forde then winning international recognition after keeping 20 clean sheets in their first season in the second flight.
Despite leading Millwall to the semi-final of the FA Cup last season, Jackett resigned after the Lions had only managed to avoid the drop on the final day.
Former Northern Ireland international Steve Lomas replaced him and revamped the squad over the summer, drafting in Steve Morison, Nicky Bailey, Scott McDonald, Stephen Bywater, Jermaine Easter, Lee Martin and Richard Chaplow.
And although the Lions made a poor start, three wins in their past four games – against Blackpool, Charlton Athletic and Leeds United – has seen them climb the table, while they suffered a 4-0 defeat at Birmingham on Tuesday.
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