The present football club can trace its roots as far back as 1890 when Boscombe St. Johns Institute Football Club were playing in local football. They disbanded in 1899 and from the remains of that club, Boscombe FC were formed at a meeting under the streetlights in Gladstone Road, Boscombe.
The club competed in the Bournemouth and District Junior League playing at a ground in Castlemain Avenue, Pokesdown. They moved to Kings Park, adjacent to the current stadium in 1902 and were soon emerging as the top team in the town. After enjoying much local success, they joined the Hampshire League and were attracting large crowds. In 1910, Mr J.E. Cooper-Dean granted the club on a long lease some waste land next to Kings Park. With their own ground, named Dean Court after the benefactor, presently called The Fitness First Stadium, the club continued to thrive and dominated the local football scene.
It was around this time that the club gained the nickname, ‘The Cherries’. There are two main stories as to why the club would be called such a name. Firstly the cherry red striped shirts the side wore and secondly, Dean Court was built next to the Cooper-Dean estate which included many cherry orchards.
The club changed the marvellously impressive name of Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic to AFC Bournemouth for the very foresighted reason that they would be first in any alphabetical list of English clubs, in front of Aldershot, Arsenal and Aston Villa. Editors and compilers however seem to have ignored the hint….
The Bournemouth strip has not always been cherry red. They wore striped cherry red shirts and black shorts from their foundation year till 1936, changing to red shirts and white shorts in the late Sixties with plain BFC letters adorning the shirts. Cherry red and black were re-introduced in the Seventies.
Today’s crest was first used from 1971 until 1981 and resembles a computer animation of a player’s head and a ball. The silhouette is that of Dicky Dowsett, the former striker and commercial manager of the club who was instrumental in dropping the Boscombe suffix and the design of the new identity.
The Bournemouth coat-of-arms granted as long ago as 24th March, 1891, was the club’s first crest and was used from 1923 until 1971 .
While most people merely cast a cursory glance at the design, it is worthwhile to study it more closely, because each intricate part has a very important metaphorical significance. The famous Bournemouth Coat of Arms has a truly regal and dignified appearance, enhancing anything it embellishes.
The helmet, sometimes called the helm, is mounted above the shield as a reminder that knights wore such a helmet in battle to protect themselves. The crest is part of the coat of arms which was originally worn on top of the helm as a means of recognition in battle. Bournemouth’s crest consists of four English roses surmounted by a pine tree, befitting indeed for a town which boasts such award-winning gardens and parks. The town’s motto, “Pulchritudo et Salubritas”, is printed on an ornamental scroll at the base of the arms, the Latin words reminding all that Bournemouth is both “beautiful and healthy”.
The main part of the coat of arms is the shield. During the time of chivalrous knights, this was, of course, held in the hand and used as protection to the body in battle. Bournemouth’s shield, in both design and colour, is based on the Royal Arms of King Edward the Confessor, in whose royal estate the area now known as “Bournemouth” was situated. The four salmon in the blue quarter, indicative of the sea, represent those to be found in the River Stour, which marks the boundary between Christchurch and Bournemouth.
Each of the lions on Bournemouth’s crest holds a rose between its paws. What look like six birds, are in fact martlets. They have no legs and exist only in heraldry – not in the real world of nature. The nearest similar actual bird, as regards the name, is the Sand Martin. They may suggest important local features. The sand cliffs of Bournemouth for instance are distinct sources of its beauty and the martlets may aptly indicate this. The azure field may express the blue sky – at least seen more often over Bournemouth than anywhere else in England. The roses, four above the headband supporting the crest, and two held by the lions, are first and foremost a Royal Emblem of England, and secondly a reminder that Bournemouth used to be in the County of Southampton, more generally called Hampshire. The attitude of the lions is said to denote watchfulness and readiness for defence in the event of an attack along the sea coast close to the town.
That all makes it far more interesting than the present dull and unimaginative computer animation, don’t you think?