November 29, 2022

Supporter blogs
AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth
Dealing with lockdowns, competing with Champions League games and surviving the 2021 play-off semi-final defeat to Brentford, AFCB Sydney Supporters Group founder Nick Goodwin shares the highs and lows of getting back into the Premier League and his personal seventeen-year journey on seeing AFC Bournemouth play again. 
28th March 2005 may not be etched in the memory of most AFC Bournemouth fans, especially as Gareth Edds’ solitary 73rd minute goal confined the Cherries to a home defeat on a chilly Saturday afternoon against MK Dons. 
The Fitness First Stadium, as it was called back then, still had three stands with the remaining side a beckoning proposition, yet an uncomfortable challenge, for those budget-saving fans willing to climb a tree to see the game for free! 
Fast-forward another 15 years, everything was booked, sealed and almost delivered for a once-in-a-lifetime trip in April 2020. 
The prospect of seeing the Cherries take on the likes of Newcastle and Spurs at home plus a six-hour journey for the Manchester United fixture was the perfect cocktail for a supporter who hadn’t seen AFC Bournemouth play live since that loss to MK Dons all those years ago.
Then in early 2020 rumours from a far-off land became more real as the dominoes continued to fall in South Korea, Iran, Italy, creating a sense of impending gloom as they edged closer to the UK. 
Within a month or two most nations around the globe had started closing their borders and Australia was no exception as it delivered the final sucker-punch, isolating itself from the rest of the world in late-March.
What to do now? The answer was clear; search the World for another red and black team to support in absence of AFC Bournemouth! FC Belshina Bobruisk came to the rescue as the Belarusian Premier League was still running, minus a few streaming issues!
Two weeks passed, then two months and finally another month before Premier League fixtures resumed… behind closed doors! Seeing AFC Bournemouth play in empty stadiums was strange and, yes, experiencing relegation to the Championship was indeed a tough pill to swallow, but even harder was honouring my prior commitment to a BBC World Service radio interview after the Everton game and staying composed throughout.
My dreams of seeing the Cherries play at the highest level in English football were now shattered, knowing how hard it is for teams to bounce back. 
 
The 2020/21 season started late but I still managed to gather the lads for 12 watch parties at our Sydney venue prior to the Championship play-off semi-final at Brentford!
Getting the word out on social media, including being interviewed by Adam Catterall on TalkSPORT earlier that day, yielded its fruit. 20 Cherries fans came along for what would be an ecstatic start to the game, but a nail-biting second half and, ultimately, a devastating climax. 
From the highs of joking around on live-to-air radio, to the incredible lows of being confined to Championship football for another year, I hibernated from all things football until the start of the following season!
The 2021/22 season was an unusual one. An incredible run of 15 unbeaten games was great, but ironic at the same time as none of us were able to watch those games due to Sydney’s second lockdown.  
Once our venue reopened, we had some difficulties watching the games as Champions League football clashed with AFC Bournemouth matches – how dare they! However, we did manage to meet up for five more games, including that match against Forest… WHAT A FEELING! No more nerve-wracking play-offs this time!
Now that we were back in the Premier League, I dared not miss another opportunity. It was time to execute the plan and use the airline credit from 2020 to book that trip over. In fact, I booked before the fixtures came out and managed to finally see the team on opening day against Aston Villa, plus Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Since founding AFCB Sydney exactly ten years ago, pretty much all our Sydney-based supporters had made the pilgrimage to the Vitality Stadium to see the Cherries compete in the topflight. 
Finally, it was my time to join the red and black family and enjoy the games live. Plenty happened on and between those four matchdays, but that is a story for another day!
UP THE CHERRIES!!!
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