A Sydenhams Wessex League Cup match on 10th March was the last time Bournemouth Poppies played ball last season.
They unfortunately fell to a 4-0 defeat away to Christchurch on that occasion, and soon after the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to all football.
The season for Non-League clubs below the National League was then declared null and void.
After a season spent mostly close to the bottom end of the table, it was perhaps not a huge issue for the Poppies to have their results expunged. The slate was wiped clean, with the promise of giving it another go next season whenever that will start.
This was Leo Cabeleira’s first season as manager of the club, after taking over from Michael Cuffie, and after having it disrupted he’s determined to improve the team’s performances.
“We have learned [from our] mistakes from the previous season. We will be going to improve and to [change] things in a different way,” he said.
“I’m not here to waste my time or the people’s time. We want to actually make a difference and have a really good season.”
Player recruitment will be crucial for the club to have a chance of moving up in the table, and Cabeleira understands this.
“We have signed some of the players from last season, and obviously we will be starting pre-season when the lockdown is over in order for us to be able to have a full team out there training,” he said.
“And then we will be looking for new players [to] come in, see their qualities and go from there basically.
“So far we have signed eight players, which is good considering the situation with Covid-19 and the restrictions we have at the moment,” he added.
Current squad players that have signed on for next season include goalkeeper Sam Jones, defenders Niall Johnston, Kevin Foreman and Lewis Harvey, and midfielders Jake Harvey and club captain Matt Nicholls.
Alongside them there have been two new recruits. Defender Zach Phelps has joined having previously played Bashley, Verwood and Wimborne Town, and Will Prior has also been signed from Wimborne Town.
There has also been some good financial news for the Poppies, after securing a Pitch Preparation grant from the Football Foundation that will allow them to make improvements to their home ground, Victoria Park.
Cabeliera understands what a significant grant this is.
“This will be massive for the club,” he said.
“It’s been a massive battle for me, always trying to get the pitch in a better condition.
“Finally I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel where I think we could repair the pitch to a really good standard,” he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic would have seen many Non-League clubs face severe financial difficulties, with many surviving day-to-day from the revenue generated from fans on matchdays.
With it still looking like it’ll be a while before fans can congregate in the stands again, or even before a new season starts again, schemes to generate funds will need to be developed.
Sponsorship of the Poppies will be key to helping them keep in business.
“Well the sponsors are more or less the same,” Cabeleira said.
“I have to be honest it’s not easy because of the whole situation that is happening at the moment [to get new sponsors].
“However, I have to say United Taxis will carry on as a main sponsor, and that’s actually massive for us with the fact they are going to carry on supporting us,” he added.
Funds will need to be raised with methods other than just sponsorship in order to compete next season and the club are planning ahead for that.
“We are having a meeting next Wednesday with the Chairman and the rest of the people involved with the club to discuss new ways to raise more funds,” Cabeleira said.
“[It’ll] hopefully open new avenues in terms of activities to see if we can get to the financial level we really need to have a good season.”
If you want to sponsor Bournemouth Poppies ahead of their new season or help support the club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.