Portland Bill And Football Bill As Bingo Beats Real Madrid In Bournemouth

Fresh air blasting through our ears, maybe that would shake the beer cobwebs away, so as Karen prepared an early afternoon breakfast Neal drove me out to Portland Bill, the highest point of the area. Keen walkers and explorers stared up at the lighthouse and the big obelisk near the rugged edge of the cliffs. Here’s a bit of useless info, lighthouse spotters are known as farologists and they describe visiting these tall towers as “bagging”. The views were inspiring and the rock formations would have sent a geologist into raptures but we were just doing our best to ignore the hangovers after the previous days fun in Weymouth.

I ventured as near to the edges as I dared but it was so busy at this popular viewpoint I couldn’t quite get to the southern most point in the UK. Feeling at least a little better we drove back into Portland with a cheeky beer stop at The Clifton before taking breakfast. It was the day of the pre season friendly game between AFC Bournemouth and Real Madrid so we took the long drive into Bournemouth and checked in at the Cooper Dean Travelodge giving Neal and Karen an easy route to work the next morning and me a short hop to the local airport in Hurn.

My friends are loyal fans of The Cherries as well as keen converts to CD Tenerife so we headed to the Bournemouth and Boscombe Royal British Legion, their pre game watering hole near the Dean Court stadium. My Ryanair flights were booked last minute and the match tickets had all sold out previously even at 55 quid a pop to members and 60 pounds to others. Even if tickets had been up for grabs I couldn’t have justified that much to see the pampered Primera side, especially when Bournemouth paid them one million pounds to come over. Neal and Karen had a certain reluctance to the circus of a game but loyalty to their side had won over, I was quite willing to pass a few hours in the Legion supping ale and their friends were very friendly and welcoming.

I was gutted that the only hand pump ale was off but was saved from a diet of keg by Matt pointing out they had Ringwood Fourtyniner and Doom Bar in bottles, and very nice they both were. As we chatted various interesting snippets emerged, one chaps son was a mascot for the game and he had been told there was strictly no asking the visiting players for autographs or photos – so much for positive PR and good old fashioned pleasing grass roots fans. I found out later that Madrid had taken over an entire hotel, The Haven in Poole and had a police escort to the ground, the financial juggernaught clearly didn’t want any commoners getting near to them.

Pre game I walked across the park with the others to have a nose around and get a few photos. Glossy programmes were on sale for a fiver and street vendors were knocking out dual scarves to mark the game, they were 10 pounds but had dropped to five just before kick off. AFC Bournemouth had reportedly made just 600,000 from ticket sales, their must have been other corporate money earners, advertising and sources in Tenerife confirmed that Gol and Marca TV were screening it live but it still didn’t seem a good financial adventure. Bournemouth’s ground impressed me, I had a look around their new football superstore that fronts the Goldsands Stadium and particularly liked the gnomes, the diehard fans still call it Dean Court.

The thing that most caught my eye was the photos of former squads and players around the walls of the stadium perimeter. The Heliodoro sadly lacks this homage to past heroes, clubs should be proud of their history and have a strong identity that fans can relate to. As the game kicked off young fans were trying to peek through the gaps in the pitch gates and back at the Legion there were several Cherries fans that were not going to the match. Bingo was the big event of the night, I declined an invitation to play, I was quite happy to sit near the entrance with a nice breeze blowing in as I demolished a few beers. It’s serious stuff this bingo, they all had magic marker pens and special check lists, I tried to keep a straight face but the caller had a voice just like Jo Brand, I sniggered away in the corner waiting for her to mention cream cakes and how useless men are.

Time and the beer went quickly and my friends were soon back after a 0-6 home defeat with two Ronaldo goals in front of a 9,600 full house. A few more beers and we headed back to the Travelodge and said our goodbyes before crashing out. My return flight to Tenerife went well the next morning and I was soon in a Los Cristianos bar reading the Bournemouth match report in the Canarian newspapers. What a fine week – and before you wonder, I did actually manage to get plenty done in my ongoing legal wrangles. Cheers to the Dorset crowd and good luck to The Cherries for the new season.