CHERRIES and Hull City will tomorrow renew a rivalry that has sat idle for more than 11 years.

The fixture has never been contested in English football’s top flight and, in truth, does not offer much fuel for reminiscing – Cherries’ 5-4 win at Dean Court in 1989 the standout memory.

But the clash allows Marcus Browning to reflect on one of his more remarkable days in football.

The midfielder’s Cherries career was barely six months old when he was called on to perform goalkeeping duties for 74 minutes of a third tier match with Hull.

It was December 2002, a time when teams could name only three substitutes, usually all outfield players.

So when Cherries goalkeeper Chris Tardif received a blow to the head, one of the men on the pitch had to take over in goal.

The Welsh international shouldered the responsibility before repelling all Hull could throw at him as his team fought out a 0-0 draw.

“No one else fancied it so I just put the gloves on and went in!” Browning told the Daily Echo. “Your instincts kick in. You just think someone needs to go in goal so I stepped forward. I’d done it before so I thought ‘why not?’ – I quite enjoyed it!”

This was actually the second time Browning had worn the keeper’s jersey following a stint between the posts in a League Cup tie with Brentford three months earlier – another occasion when the luckless Tardif had been forced off.

But against Hull, Browning remembers adopting a cavalier approach to preserving his clean sheet.

“I was a player with some gloves on, really more of a sweeper,” he says. “Hull tried to get in over the top a couple of times so I just came out of my box and acted as an extra player.

“The defence looked after me quite well. I had some shaky moments when they had a few corners and stuck the ball under the bar. It’s okay coming out to take crosses but, when you’re being challenged as well, it’s difficult!

“But we weathered the storm and ended up 0-0, which was a good result, considering!”

Browning admits leaving Gillingham to join Cherries was a tough decision.

But the 45-year-old would spend five years with the club and harbours treasured memories of the 2002-03 season, which ended with the play-off final victory over Lincoln in Cardiff.

“To get to the Millennium Stadium, where I hadn’t played – I’d played at Cardiff Arms Park for Wales – with the roof on as well, it was a fantastic day, a great experience,” he says.

“My first season was great. I spoke to Sean O’Driscoll when he signed me and he said ‘you could be the best player in the world but if you don’t fit in with the group then there will be problems’.

He did his homework on the people he brought in to play with the talented young lads he already had.”

Now operating his own window cleaning business and coaching Poole Town’s under-18s – for whom son Morgan plays – Browning still gets to Vitality Stadium when he can.

But as he watches the modern-day game, does he lament the passing of a time when bosses didn’t have a spare keeper to call on in case of emergency? “I guess for the fans’ entertainment value it’s not so good having a keeper on the bench,” he says. “But from the manager’s point of view, it’s a godsend.”