AFC Bournemouth v Burton Albion might seem, on the face of it, a pretty run-of-the-mill FA Cup fixture, but appearances can be deceptive. Colston Crawford, Deputy Sports Editor at the Derby Telegraph (@DerbyTelegraph) and a Burton Albion supporter for 35 years, explains more...
It started out as a nice but, on the face of it, perhaps slightly naïve idea - that Bournemouth fans might help Burton fans by paying for a coach down to the south coast for this week’s rearranged FA Cup tie, since the postponement of the original had been so close to kick-off that most Burton travellers were already inside Dean Court.
Such goodwill stemmed from April 2010 when Bournemouth clinched promotion from League Two with a 2-0 win at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium and their supporters were invited to party on the pitch. Many said that they had never been made so welcome anywhere as they were by the stewards and supporters of Burton.
Burton fans were, of course, very proud of that because, like the fans of a lot of clubs with a non-league history, we like to think we're able to bring a little of the non-league camaraderie to the Football League. That is, I admit, a bit simplistic. There are good and bad supporters of any club, at any level, but I digress. The fact is that a bond was created between Burton and Bournemouth in 2010 and it has not been forgotten.
What followed probably caught the organisers of the gesture by surprise as much as anyone else. David Whitehead and Adrian Lee set up a fundraising page with a target of £800, the cost of one coach. They whizzed past that target in an hour. Two hours passed and they were closing in on two coaches. One or two donations came from fans of other clubs.
Bournemouth Chairman Jeff Mostyn gave £100 and spoke of his pride in being at the helm of a club with such supporters. They closed the fund with 292 supporters having donated £2,930, with three coaches secured and, probably, a little bit left over to go to Cancer Research, as nominated by Cherries boss Eddie Howe.
The whole thing has generated a lot of publicity. Adrian Lee has admitted it’s caught him on the hop, suddenly being contacted by all manner of media. As he said, he didn’t do it for the publicity. Amazingly, even Al Jazeera International are going to be filming a piece at the game!
When all’s said and done, though, it’s a good news story and, lord knows, football needs a few in these days of diving and moaning, of silly money and betting scandals.
And one thing’s for certain - a lot of Burton fans will look no further for a “second” team to keep an eye on the results of from this day forward.
Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.
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