Cherries legend Steve Fletcher has say on Hartlepool United v Bournemouth cup tie

Former Hartlepool United striker Steve Fletcher photographed outside of Victoria Park during a visit to his home town. Picture by FRANK REID
Former Hartlepool United striker Steve Fletcher photographed outside of Victoria Park during a visit to his home town. Picture by FRANK REID

Great for me, great for Hartlepool United, but not great for Bournemouth.

That was the verdict of former Pools striker turned Cherries legend Steve Fletcher as he looked ahead to the Capital One Cup meeting between boyhood club and beloved club.

It’s great for me and Hartlepool, but I’m not sure it is for Bournemouth

Steve Fletcher

Pools were drawn at home to the Premier League newcomers for the second round tie on Tuesday, August 25.

It’s a mouth-watering game between a resurgent Pools and a club who are still pinching themselves that they are now in England’s top flight - just two years since they were at Victoria Park in League One.

“It’s great for me and great for Hartlepool, but I’m not sure it is for Bournemouth,” Fletcher told SportMail.

“I think, first you want a home draw, and if you don’t get that, an away match which is close by.

“We didn’t get either and we’re off to the other end of the country!

“But it will be a nostalgic trip for me and one I’m looking forward to.”

It is a potential banana skin – a confident Pools coming up against a Bournemouth side which is unlikely to be their first-choice Premier starting XI.

Fletcher believes it will prove an entertaining match between two footballing exponents in Ronnie Moore and Eddie Howe.

“If you want to do well in the cups you have to go the length and breadth of the country and this is one such case,” he said.

“What I will say is that, whatever side the manager selects, it will be a good team and it will play the Bournemouth way.

“The boss has set a philosophy of playing football the right way and we’ll play the same way whether we’re at the Eitihad, Anfield, Old Trafford or Victoria Park.

“The ethos will never change.

“It will be a good game betwen two teams who like to play good football.

“I know Ronnie Moore likes his teams to play in the right way.

“Hartlepool will be pleased with the draw - they are at home and they have a Premier League club.”

Bizarrely, the clubs met as recently as January 2013, when Fletcher was on the bench for his last appearance at the Vic.

The veteran forward, who made his debut for Pools under the great Cyril Knowles 22 seasons earlier, did not make it onto the field as the Cherries held on for a 2-1 win.

Now, Bournemouth are rubbing shoulders with the English elite while Pools are trying to fight back from the bottom of the Football League.

So, what’s it like to see his beloved Cherries in the Premier League?

“Surreal is the best way I could describe it,” said the 43-year-old.

“We’re at Anfield on Sky’s Monday night football.

“It’s my club playing at the team I supported as a boy.

“It’s not a cup tie, it’s the Premier League.

“I bet when You’ll Never Walk Alone is sung by 40,000 fans before kick-off, the hairs on the back of our players’ necks will be standing up.

“It’s amazing to think we’re playing these teams but, in the same breath, reality will have to kick in.

“At the end of the day, this is now our bread and buttter.

“It’s imperative we stay in the Premier League.”

While the south coast side comes first for Fletcher, who made over 600 appearance for Bournemouth and bagged more than 100 goals, Pools retains a place in his heart.

He said what Moore and Pools achieved last season was a “miracle”.

He added: “That was some story - Pools were dead and buried.

“Someone asked me ‘will Hartlepool stay up?’ when they were eight points adrift and I had to be honest and say ‘hand on heart, no’.

“That wasn’t being disrespectful, I just couldn’t see where they were going to get any win from.

“But Ronnie made some astute signings, they won one, then another and another.

“He produced a miracle to keep Pools in the Football League and it was a brilliant feeling.”