DAVID Whitehead – the Cherries supporter who devised the Burton Albion coach fund idea – admitted the overwhelming response had far exceeded expectations.
AFC Bournemouth fans and counterparts from other clubs have chipped in to raise almost £3,000 towards the transport costs of supporters of FA Cup rivals Burton.
The brainchild of Whitehead, a website was set up yesterday to help pay for the Brewers faithful to travel back to Dean Court on Tuesday, January 14 after many had made a wasted trip to the scheduled third round tie between the clubs, which was postponed on Saturday.
Whitehead came up with the scheme because of the goodwill between the two sets of supporters, which was established after Cherries had been made so welcome at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium when sealing promotion from League Two in 2010.
And while the initial aim was to come up with £800 to cover the cost of one coach, donations flooded in on the back of widespread regional and national media coverage, with the total having reached a staggering £2,930 at the time of writing.
Whitehead confirmed three Burton coaches could now be paid for and that any surplus money was set to go to Cancer Research, the charity nominated by Cherries manager Eddie Howe.
He told the Daily Echo: “When we went to Burton in 2010, it was the most fantastic day and their fans and officials were really friendly. I thought that maybe we should do something and floated the idea.
“I was contacted by Adrian Lee who has experience in crowd funding situations and he set up donations on the internet. It exceeded our expectations. There are lots of heart-warming messages on the website from all sorts of people and fans. Everyone in the football family can relate to it and lots of people have chipped in. It has been a great experience.
“We hear enough about petulant millionaire footballers but there is another football universe out there, with smaller, less fashionable clubs. Hopefully, this will shine a light on different aspects of football.”
Cherries boss Howe praised the scheme and in a statement issued to the Daily Echo, Dean Court chairman Jeff Mostyn said: “On April 24, 2010, following a traumatic few years that saw the club almost relegated out of the Football League, AFC Bournemouth celebrated promotion to League One following victory at the Pirelli Stadium. What became apparent as the final whistle sounded was the incredible camaraderie shown by our hosts. It was the beginning of a bond between our two clubs that will last well into the future.
“The gesture by our supporters to provide funding for coaches following Saturday’s postponed game is possibly without precedent. It demonstrates, without doubt, the strength of feeling the supporters of AFC Bournemouth have for their peers at Burton Albion. As chairman, no gesture has ever given me greater pride.”
Burton Albion chairman Ben Robinson thanked supporters for the “tremendous gesture”.