EX-Dean Court terrace hero Steve Jones reckons a return to the second flight for Cherries would be “long overdue”.

Jones was a big hit with supporters during two spells with the club – his goalscoring exploits spearheading the original Great Escape in 1995.

The striker is also revered by Charlton fans after playing a starring role in their epic 1998 play-off final victory when the Addicks regained a place in the Premier League.

And while Jones describes his Wembley heroics as “the greatest moment of my career”, he remembers his time with Cherries as “the greatest period”.

Jones hit 30 league goals in just 76 appearances, his efforts seeing them flirt with the third tier play-offs in 1996 and again in 1998 when he returned for a brief loan spell.

Cherries spent three seasons in the old Division Two when Harry Redknapp – who sold Jones to the Dorset club during his time as manager at West Ham – led them between 1987 and 1990.

Jones, now based in Essex and running a successful soccer school and youth football club, told the Daily Echo: “It is great to see Bournemouth doing so well.

“They had some fantastic times under Eddie Howe and Lee Bradbury and Steve Fletcher have kept up the good work.

“I would love to see them in the Championship and they deserve to go up. I have got good memories of my time at Bournemouth and the only real regret was probably not helping them win promotion. The Great Escape was unbelievable but you want to taste success at the other end of the table.

“The squad we had in 1995-96 should have challenged in my opinion. We started well and were around the top six for the first half of the season.

“But we lost a few players and came up short in the end. With a bit more luck and a bit more money, we could have at least made the play-offs.

“I owe a great deal to Mel Machin, he was a very clever manager. He knew what made players tick and was an excellent man-manager as well. He signed players like Steve Robinson, Neil Young and Matt Holland for next to nothing.

“If he had been given any sort of budget, he would have taken us up without a shadow of a doubt. I think I was his most expensive signing at £150,000 – and that was probably 50,000 payments over 10 years!

“I don’t think people realised how much the club was struggling at the time. They were in dire trouble and I remember we used to get paid from the bar takings sometimes!

“For a professional football club, it was poor across the board. Thinking back, you could see the signs that it was going to go bust. Leaving was one of the biggest regrets of my career. If I had stayed, I could have scored 200 goals for them and been a legend, just like Fletch is now!

“The first results I look for every week are Bournemouth and Charlton. People think I’m a West Ham fan, but Bournemouth and Charlton are my teams and it would be great to see them both go up.”