Today marks 20 years on since AFC Bournemouth fans gathered in Bournemouth’s Winter Gardens to save their club.
Over 2,000 supporters rallied together on 25th January 1997 and threw their own money into a bucket to help try and rescue the club financially.
It was a significant day in the club’s history in which they were just moments away from becoming extinct.
One of the supporters present on that memorable evening was Bill Sadler, a life-long AFC Bournemouth follower.
“We went to the meeting not really knowing what was going to be said,” Sadler said. “Whether the administrator was going to pull the plug or whether he was going to give it another couple of weeks, it was down to that sort of situation.
I drove down from London to be there. My boss gave me £250 to put in the buckets & the day off, fully paid so I could be there! https://t.co/NXcsbw2dj9
— Gayle Hope (@bmb_afcb) January 25, 2017
“Trevor Watkins [former chairman] was pulling all the strings having meetings all the times with various people desperately trying to keep it afloat.
“It [the bucket collection] was only a little token really. Some people put in a lot, some people put in a few thousand. You just put in what you could afford.”
It wasn’t just the bucket collection that Sadler was involved in, he and many other fans were forced to get creative in their efforts to generate money.
“There was a limited run of beer with a Cherries emblem on it,” he added. “Me and my mate Jerry kept going over the club and getting the crates, and I would cycle to work with them and sell them to the blokes at work.
“They weren’t Bournemouth fans but they’d buy beer. It was about 50p a bottle profit which helped provide a couple more thousand pounds.”
Bournemouth managed to survive financially and went on to finish in 9th position in the Football League’s Second Division, and despite enduring further hardship since, they now sit comfortably in the Premier League.
“It’s absolute fantasy,” Sadler continued. “You could never imagine being half way up the Premiership two seasons in the trot – you’d never believe it.
“You don’t ever dream you’re going to end up in the Premiership for X number of years. Who knows how long we’ll survive.”
The Cherries next fixture is at the Vitality Stadium where they host Crystal Palace. A victory could elevate them up to ninth place in the Premier League.