THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Cherries fans help Brewers get to match

icon nofans9 January ~ Last weekend's FA Cup fourth round draw offered the prospect of a home tie against Liverpool for the winners of the game between AFC Bournemouth and Burton Albion, which was postponed because of the weather. League Two Burton held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw at the Pirelli Stadium in 2006, before being overcome 5-0 in the replay at Old Trafford. This summer's extravagant Real Madrid friendly aside, Bournemouth fans have not had the prospect of such a glamorous game on the horizon for a long time.

So it was inevitable that the mad scramble for tickets began just seconds after the draw was made. While some posts on the Up the Cherries forum were sarcastic ("Can I be the first person to complain about the ticketing arrangements for the Liverpool cup game?" one fan chipped in), others were keen to set the parameters. It was assumed that season ticket holders first, followed by those who attend the rain-delayed third round game with Burton Albion. But then there was the issue of fans who live further afield and will be unable to get down to Dorset on a Tuesday night due to work commitments and whether a ticket for the upcoming away game at Wigan prove that you're worthy of a Liverpool ticket.

While the prospect of playing Liverpool whipped the more recently acquired Bournemouth fans into a frenzy, those who had actually set foot inside Dean Court before the start of this season had other priorities in mind. Burton's visit on Saturday was postponed after incessant rain made conditions gradually worse. The decision came just over an hour before kick-off, meaning a lot of Brewers fans had wasted time and money making the long trip south. The usual response would be "so what?", but this time things were different.

Albion are held in high regard by Cherries followers after they behaved sportingly when Eddie Howe's men sealed promotion from League Two with a 2-0 win at their ground in 2010. Players were invited to celebrate from the directors box as fans gathered on the pitch (helped over barriers by stewards), with not a hint of malice or interference from home ranks.

So when rain continued to lash down in Dorset as lunchtime approached, a pact was made by Bournemouth fan David Whitehead to repay the kindness shown on that happy afternoon in Staffordshire. He pointed out that it would be good to make a friendly gesture in return, suggesting a target of a few hundred quid to raise money for free pies to those who made the trip down to the rearranged game on Tuesday, January 14.

Eventually a target of £800 to fund a coach to bring supporters to the south coast was set, with a Gofundme fundraising page fundraising page going live on Sunday lunchtime. As memories of one of the happiest days in the club's recent history came flooding back, the donations started to roll in. First to pitch in were long-standing members of the message board community, but word soon began to spread on social media and the target was quickly met.

The news travelled further after mentions on Radio 5 Live and BT Sport, and the fundraiser became a love-in, with supporters from Fulham, West Brom and Manchester City adding to the pot. The page was closed with a grand total of £2,930 donated and there was mention of a free programme also being offered to Brewers fans. Any remaining money will be donated to boss Eddie Howe's nominated charity, Cancer Research.

No matter which club goes on to earn a money-spinning visit from Luis Suárez, Steven Gerrard and co, the friendship between these two teams looks set to blossom. With Howe keen to shift some of the club's fringe players this January, he could do worse than loaning them to Gary Rowett's team. Andy Lloyd-Williams

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