Date: 10 November 2001
What a day the first match at the Fitness First stadium proved to be! Beautiful fine weather, the stadium - though far from finished - looking glorious, and a convincing home win bringing us within three points of a play-off place.
It's hard to know what was the most "emotional" moment: the poignant silence to remember Ken Dando, Geoffrey Hayward and Michael Lowe, great servants of the club and true fans none of whom lived to see the day? The unashamedly Christian prayer (and a long one at that) led by the current chaplain? The first goal at the new stadium, scored by the youngest member of the team and a genuine local lad? The wonder goal by Tindall, who had nearly missed the match on compassionate grounds when his father suffered a heart attack? No, I think it was the moment when the lads - back from their three-month exile in Dorchester - ran onto the pitch at 2:55 to the backing track of "The boys are back in town!"
There was much that on a lesser day would have been newsworthy: Feeney's squandered chance when he faced an open goal in the first half; another penalty that wasn't given but which - after last week's experience- Feeney decided not to dispute; Narada's brief (less than five minute) spell on the pitch as a substitute before he went off injured.
But each of the three goals was a story in itself. First Stock, after several other players had tried to hit the target and had eventually unselfishly allowed him a chance, put away the historic first goal in the stadium. Then, just as the announcer was saying that the fourth official was giving one minute's added time at the end of the first half, Hayter scored a brilliant one man goal after running almost half the pitch length with the ball. Finally, in the second half, a Hayter corner kick wasn't directed at anyone in the crowded goalmouth but at Tindall who was unmarked outside; somehow he turned the ball and kicked it through the sea of players into the top corner of the net.
The match had started nervily for Bournemouth, and Wrexham - bottom of the table, away from home and with nothing to lose - looked for a while as though they would capitalise on that, but Bournemouth soon adopted a passing game that wore the Wrexham players out and frustrated the visiting fans. This style of play continued until after the third goal when Bournemouth took the foot off the pedal but continued to play a low-risk possession game.
The old South End crowd - now established in the new North Stand - sang their hearts out all afternoon. Along with old favourites "Boscombe - back of the net", "Engerland!" (because we were playing Wrexham), The Red Flag, etc., we were treated to new favourites like "Narada!" and "We've got Wade Elliott". And a few new songs especially for the day: "You're Welsh and you know you are", "Are you watching South-amp-ton?" and "Oh when the Saints go Nationwide".
The starting line-up, with my scores out of ten :
Broadhurst (7), Tindall (8), Howe (7);
Elliott (7), Stock (8), C Fletcher (6), Purches (7);
Holmes (6), Feeney (7).