Come August 2015, football history will be made, witnessed live by just 12,000 people in the premier league’s newest, smallest host stadium. Following a somewhat mammoth rise to glory, Bournemouth FC will play in the premiership for the first time in 125 years.
The team’s success is especially remarkable in light of the fact that just six years ago, the club was almost relegated from league football altogether. Belief and passion from Bournemouth’s fans fanned the flicker of hope that the failing club needed to survive, and it’s a flame that’s burned stronger every year. The success is a great triumph for Manager Eddie Howe, who was last week named LMA Manager of the year. Howe holds the record as the youngest ever league football Manager, having taken his position at Bournemouth as a fans’ favourite – but total rookie.
This is a story of tenacity, teamwork and the inspiring impact of a strong leader – and there are lessons we all could learn from this little seaside town:
When you have nothing else to lose, you have everything to gain
At the time that former player and life-long Bournemouth fan Eddie Howe returned to the club, it was narrowly avoiding liquidation, held 92nd place of 92 clubs in the football leagues and was on -17 points in the table. Begged to return to the club by loyal fans, Howe knew that he had his work cut out. But when you’re at rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go, and so he set about a quest to go up.
Positive environment inspires positive performance
Eddie Howe takes inspiration from an unusually diverse range of sources, and focuses on what he calls, the ‘accumulation of little things’. Howe believes that the environment that a player operates in is crucially important to success. The walls of the club are lined with quotes from Mohammed Ali ‘what you are thinking is what you are becoming’, Michael Jordan, Steve Redgrave… for one of the UK’s smallest clubs, the atmosphere oozes inspiration.
Learn from the past
Today Bournemouth is a much more financially stable club than it was six years ago. But it doesn’t hide from its troubled past. A spotted history map on the wall playfully describes the 2008-09 season as ‘The Great Escape’. Bournemouth now receives sizeable annual investment from owner and Russian businessman Maxim Demin, but only as a result of honesty about the ongoing financial support it has needed, lessons learned and a continued journey towards success.
Triumph in the face of adversity
Howe’s own challenges have inevitably shaped the way he guides his players through losses. Howe’s own playing career was cut short by injury, and he describes it as a very demotivating time. An incredibly popular player, Howe was brought back by an inspiring initiative by the Bournemouth fans, and thus became football’s youngest manager at the age of 31. At the time, he wasn’t sure he was ready. With everything stacked against him, he led the club to League One promotion in 2010, and to the Championship in 2013.
As the Bournemouth team goes into battle in the Premiership, with some of football’s much bigger fish, you can’t help but hope that tenacity continues to prevail. It’s a lesson for any smaller business with a big vision, and whatever happens this season, one that should inspire for years to come.