BOSS Kenny Vaughan saw Bournemouth Poppies end their long wait for silverware before dedicating the triumph to 91-year-old club president Ernie Stimpson.
Jesse Hodgson bagged the only goal of the final as Poppies overcame Winchester City to lift the Wessex League Cup at AFC Totton’s Testwood Stadium on Saturday.
It was their first trophy since they joined the competition as founder members in 1986 – and winning it capped a memorable day for long-serving club official Stimpson.
Affectionately known as Mr Bournemouth Poppies, he took centre stage during the victory celebrations after the players had made a beeline for him following the final whistle.
Jubilant manager Vaughan told the Daily Echo: “I told Ernie we would get some silverware for him because he had been waiting so long. He has been with this club for as long as I can remember and he enjoyed himself.
“The lads went straight to the stand to find him and took him from his seat to join in the celebrations. It was a nice touch and he thoroughly deserved to be a part of it because I don’t think anybody has done more for this club than Ernie.”
Hodgson, unearthed by Vaughan playing in the Bournemouth Sunday League, grabbed the winner after six minutes when his delightful lofted effort beat City goalkeeper Rory Anderson. The striker also claimed the man-of-the-match award.
Vaughan added: “It was a tremendous game and a proper cup final. It is our first trophy and, hopefully, we won’t have to wait as long for the next one!
“Jesse’s goal was worthy of winning any cup final. He has applied himself so well since stepping up and he looked like he had been playing at this level for years. He took his goal like an old pro.
“The early goal settled us and we were comfortable in the first half. We had a couple of decent chances to score a second before they came alive. They started to get at us and we had to defend for our lives. It was tense at the end and my blood pressure was struggling to cope!”
Victory finally saw Poppies shake off their bridesmaid tag, having lost on penalties in the final to Lymington Town in 2007 after scoring through Leigh Phil-lips inside the opening minute. Their best league finish was second in 1995, while they were also runners-up in the Russell-Cotes Cup in 1996 and 2002.
“Once you get a taste for it, you want more,” said Vaughan. “The signs are good for next season and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to push on. We had our sights set on finishing second in the league this season but it was a bridge too far in the end.”
Crocked pair Jake Rowley and Tom Green both looked on from the stand in plaster, while Ollie Phillipson-Masters had a stormer in defence after playing through the pain barrier following a back injury.