The club was founded at a Meeting held in Abbotts Auction Mart in Old Christchurch Road by eight enthusiastic gentlemen presided over by Alderman J Nethercoate (later to become Mayor of Bournemouth) on 11 September 1875. It was decided to call the club Bournemouth Rovers and is one of the oldest clubs in the country being founder Members of the Football Association, the Hampshire F.A. and the Bournemouth F.A. Bournemouth FC was adopted in 1889 having amalgamated with another local side- Bournemouth Arabs
The club was among founder members of the Hampshire League and played the second game in the inaugural campaign of 1896/97, going down 1-0 to Ryde Sports on 12 September 1896, before eventually finishing sixth from eight.
Up to joining the Wessex League in 1986 the club had played entirely in the Hampshire League, except for a short spell at the turn of the 20th century. This decision to join raised a few eyebrows at the time but after a couple of seasons adjusting to the higher standard have been members ever since and ironically completed their 1000th league fixture in the competition a day short of their 136th birthday- on 10 September 2011, beating Romsey Town 3-1.
Tuesday 26 November 1878 is another significant date in the club’s history- when the club played under experimental electric lights at Dean Park for “a grand exhibition of the new electric light”; conditions weren’t perfect though with part of a cinder cycle track cutting the field of play.
The club has had three homes during its history with their first ground being at a place called East Common near the Bournemouth railway station, then Dean Park (current home of Dorset County Cricket) before being evicted back in 1901 after some 25 years and then using the then new Meyrick Park grounds and other public parks before moving to Victoria Park. Mr. Jack Joy, a local landowner and former member of the club, gave the present Namu Road ground to the club which was formerly a farmer’s field, with the first game there on 12 September 1908. A year later a grandstand was erected and formally opened by the Mayor. This stand was destroyed by fire in 1974.
The first taste of County success came in winning the West Division in 1905 and then again in 1910. Poppies became County Division Champions either side of the Great War in 1914 and 1922. However in 1929 the club was relegated into the newly formed Division 2 regaining top flight status by winning the Division 2 Championship in 1932. The club languished in the bottom half of Division 1 for several seasons before finally falling back into Division 2 when football restarted after the Second World War. The club recovered some of its past glories by winning the Hampshire Intermediate Cup in 1950 and again in 1970 and 1972.
Division 1 status was regained for the 1979/80 season but relegation quickly followed in 1980/81 and again in 1982/83 when they slipped into Division 3 remaining there until being admitted to the newly formed Wessex League in 1985.
The Wessex League Championship has remained elusive coming close on two occasions with a 3rd place in 1990/91 under the guidance of Tommy Taylor and runners up spot in 1994/5 to Fleet Town when Alex Pike was the manager.
The first piece of silverware for a number of years arrived in 2010/11, in the 25th Wessex League season in the shape of the League Cup, winning 1-0 at AFC Totton’s new ground against Winchester City, with the goal coming from Hodgson. 2011/12 saw the team reach the FA Carlsberg Vase Quarter Final for the first time. A 0-2 home reverse against West Auckland Town put a halt to glory that day.This season we again hope to be amongst the clubs pressing for honours.
The club has also had a change of colour several times, adopting the now familiar poppy red in season 1895/6 from green and white hoops (following the merger with Bournemouth Wanderers), since then being nicknamed the Poppies. 2011/12 sees us adopting a new away kit of yellow and blue halved shirts to compliment our traditional red kit.
One of the clubs most famous members was William Pickford (who later became Chairman of the English Football Association). Victoria Park is squeezed in amongst surrounding houses and remains much as it was when the club first moved here before the Great War. Bournemouth Council bought the ground after the Second World War for £4,500 providing a lease on a peppercorn rent after a series of prolonged meetings and discussions
The clubhouse was opened in 1985 and the current 205-seater stand provides adequate cover from the elements with several rows of bench seating replacing the old wooden stand that was destroyed by fire. This stretches about a third of the length of the pitch – next to the glass-fronted clubhouse. The remaining three sides are flat terracing just separated from the playing area by a permanent metal barrier.
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