BOURNEMOUTH boss Eddie Howe dedicated his side’s 3-0 win over Bolton, which saw them move to the brink of the Barclays Premier League, to the club’s long-suffering supporters.
Goals from Marc Pugh, Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson mean, barring a virtually impossible goal difference swing against them on Saturday, Bournemouth have earned promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history.
“I thanked the fans for their support because this club was down on its knees six years ago, we had nothing.Eddie Howe, Bournemouth manager
It also ended the automiatic promotion hopes of Middlesbrough.
Bournemouth’s turnaround is even more remarkable given the Cherries were languishing at the bottom of the Football League in 2009 and were said to be just hours away from liquidation during months of financial turmoil at Dean Court.
They were deducted 17 points for being in administration, were forced to use bucket collections to keep the club afloat and had just seven points from 22 games when Howe took charge of his hometown side at just 31.
“I thanked the fans for their support because this club was down on its knees six years ago, we had nothing,” Howe explained.
“But a group of supporters stuck with the club and put their own money from their pockets to keep the club alive. They are reaping the reward for all that loyal support.
“It is a club I watched as a kid and as a 12 and 13-year-old this is where I came to watch football every week. This club was good enough to give me a break as a player and a manager, I can’t thank them enough.
“It shouldn’t be them thanking me, it should be me thanking them for everything they have done. This club is a very special place and really does deserve its moment in the sun.”
The Cherries finished 10th in the Championship last season and were seen by many as dark horses for a play-off spot but they have led the way for most of the campaign, and scored 111 goals in the process, before following Watford into the top flight.
And Howe admits when he took charge of his beloved Bournemouth at the foot of League Two he would never have predicted the memorable six years that were to follow.
“This was never a journey we expected to go on, I have to be honest this was not a position we expected to be in but through hard work and investment from the owner we have managed to get there,” he said.
“The special ingredient is the team and the players have just been magnificent. It has been an achievement that they certainly deserve. We will savour this moment and enjoy it.”
Howe’s captain Tommy Elphick labelled their elevation as an ‘unbelievable achievement’ and says the celebrations after the final whistle will live long in the memory.
“We’ve just had a few minutes to get together with everyone, the whole staff, it’s unbelievable for everyone,” he said on Sky Sports 1.
“What can you say about the manager? Jesus. And the lads, they’ve performed so well week in, week out, it’s an unbelievable achievement and something we’ll never forget.”
Bournemouth sit one point behind leaders Watford going into the final day of the season, when the Cherries head to Charlton and Watford host Sheffield Wednesday.
“We’ve got to be professional for one more game and see the season out,” Elphick added. “The title is still up for grabs and the pressure is on Watford against Sheffield Wednesday.
“They came down here and made it hard for us, so hopefully they can do the same to them and we can get three points. You never know and it would be nice to lift the trophy.”