Cherries' trips to Leicester as regular as Only Fools and Horses festive specials (From Bournemouth Echo)
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AFC Bournemouth feature: Cherries' trips to Leicester as regular as Only Fools and Horses festive specials
SOUP, sandwiches and cold showers...Merry Christmas to Cherries’ class of 1987. And 1988. And 1989.
As regular as an Only Fools and Horses festive special, Harry Redknapp’s AFC Bournemouth made their way to Leicester.
When the current day Cherries step on their luxury coach for yet another motorway trek in this northern division, they should count themselves lucky.
For their Cherries predecessors, the club’s second tier trailblazers, there were few home comforts as they ditched the turkey and crackers for an unwanted East Midlands hat-trick.
“When we saw that fixture pulled out at Christmas, it was not the greatest one,” recalled Cherries defensive hero John ‘Willo’ Williams, who featured prominently in Cherries’ Leicester December 26 treble.
“Then it happened a second year which we couldn’t believe. I remember coming out of the hotel – never dreaming that it would happen a third time – and saying ‘see you again next year!’ “There were teams around at that time that would have been much more suitable for us to play on Boxing Day, but we had our happy holidays in the same hotel three years running. It was that ridiculous, we got to know the staff in the hotel because we had been there three times on the spin.
“We travelled to Leicester on Christmas afternoon and the lads with families weren’t all that pleased, but that is the way it works. Harry took us off on our merry way. I think we trained Christmas morning, which was not unusual, not with Harry anyway.
“We went home for Christmas lunch and then back to the ground at four o’clock to get on our way. It took about three hours – there was not a lot on the roads as you can imagine!
“We got up there, booked into the hotel and I think we had some soup and sandwiches when we got there. And then it was bed – that was it.
“The next morning, because it was an 11 o’clock kick-off, people prepared for it in different ways. I can remember having a cold shower when I got to the ground – just to give me that extra little bit of a wake-up call. Then, it was on to the game.”
While the trek to Leicester would certainly not have topped Williams’s Christmas wish-list, it actually proved quite the gift for Cherries and their star centre-half.
Cherries registered 1-0 victories on their first two visits thanks to Richard Cooke and Colin Clarke, with only a last-gasp strike denying them a draw following Williams’s wonder-goal in 1989.
Division Three title-winning mainstay Williams, now a matchday summariser with BBC Radio Solent, has particularly fond memories of the third and most recent of his – and the club’s – visits to Leicester. But Williams’s acrobatic right-foot volley is tarnished by the thought of Leicester’s Gary Mills somehow crashing home the hosts’ winner – just inches above his head.
“Cookie scored a really good goal in the first game,” recalled Williams. “The Colin Clarke game is probably the one I remember best. We were really flying and really going well and we didn’t have too many injuries. Colin came in on loan from Southampton and he was a great signing.
“In the third year, I scored. That was probably one of the better goals I scored for Bournemouth and those sort of goals don’t come along too often. But the winning goal was weird.
“We defended a corner from the right-hand side, got a clearance on it, and it went out the other side of the pitch and their player picked up the ball on the edge of the box.
“I had been at the near post for the corner so I took a stance behind Gerry Peyton on the far post. This was something we had done in the past. I was thinking ‘go on then, if you are going to get it past me, you are going to have to put the ball right in the corner with some pace’. And he did. He smashed this ball and found the top corner. I jumped for it and didn’t even touch it as he got it between my head and the top corner.”
Despite that, Williams recalls Leicester as a largely happy hunting ground. “We played really well there, particularly in the Colin Clarke game, which was a great performance,” he added.
“It pushed us right up the league and we could start dreaming of the first division a little bit, but I think injuries later that season changed it.”
Another 1-0 win tomorrow would propel Eddie Howe’s men towards play-off contention.
And that really would feel like Christmas had come early for Cherries’ class of 2013.
- Boxing Day 1987
Leicester City 0 Cherries 1 (Richard Cooke 9)
Leicester: Andrews, James, Venus, Morgan, Brien, Mauchlen, McAllister, MacDonald, Rantanen, Ramsay (Cusack, 58), Ford (Osveld, 58).
Cherries: Peyton, Langan, Williams, Whitlock, Morrell, O'Driscoll, Brooks, O'Connor, Cooke, Aylott, Puckett (Shearer, 66).
- Boxing Day 1988
Leicester City 0 Cherries 1 (Colin Clarke 74)
Leicester: Cooper, Paris, Spearing, Ramsey (Turner, 82), Walsh, Morgan, Reid, Russell (Cross, 63), Newell, McAllister, Quinn.
Cherries: Peyton, O'Driscoll, Morrell, Bond, Williams, Brooks, O'Connor, Clarke, Aylott, Bishop, Blissett. Unused subs: Newson, Cooke.
- Boxing Day 1989
Leicester City 2 (Kevin Campbell 12, Gary Mills 80) Cherries 1 (John Williams 60)
Leicester: Hodge, Mauchlen, Morgan, Mills, Walsh, Paris, Reid, Moran, Campbell, McAllister, Wright. Unused subs: Johnson, North.
Cherries: Peyton, Newson, Coleman, Bond, Williams, Teale, Peacock, Lawrence, Moulden, Brooks, Blissett. Unused subs: Holmes, Miller.
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