New to afcb.co.uk! In the first instalment of bi-monthly updates from our supporters around the world, Nick Goodwin of the AFC Bournemouth Sydney Supporters' Group details how his love for the Cherries was first kindled.
It is said that for a tree to grow the seed must die first. On a fateful mid-December day in 2008 and beamed live across Australia, non-league Blyth Spartans beat AFC Bournemouth to progress to the Third Round round of the FA Cup. That day the seed died.
Forward to December 2012 and League One AFC Bournemouth had just beaten Carlisle United to set up a Third Round FA Cup tie with the then-Premier League Wigan Athletic. Surely this match - a ripe prospect for a cup upset - would be shown live in Australia?
My name is Nick Goodwin, and I was the only Cherries supporter to have watched that painful Blyth Spartans match at Sydney's Star City Casino. It was at that point that I decided the next time the Cherries were shown live in Australia I'd find others to watch it with!
But, where to start?
Creating a supporters group from scratch can be a daunting prospect for some, but for me it came down to a few things; being organised, being social and meeting up to showcase AFC Bournemouth at any given opportunity!
I founded AFCB Sydney to create and build a strong local community that supporters could connect with. I got the word out on social media and initially the biggest source of help came from AFC Bournemouth supporters back in England, who referred family members living in Australia.
What followed were multiple social media reports of 'AFC Bournemouth shirt sightings' in and around Sydney. It was quite amusing! After a few sightings, Sydney-based AFC Bournemouth supporters began letting go of their 'the only Cherries Supporter Down Under' titles, changing their mindsets to that of becoming a group.
Setting up a supporters' club was never going to be an overnight thing and I spent many months, even years, laying the foundations. Slowly gatherings of two, turned into gatherings of threes or fours. Then, groups of up to 20, were listening to live matches via the club's official website every week.
The past five-and-a-half years have been a valuable learning experience, and one that has highlighted the importance of establishing city (or local area-based) supporters' groups to create unique Cherries cultures around the world.
Another key area has been that of relationship-building, not just with fellow Bournemouth supporters, but with staff at local venues, the national sports press, local charities, other EPL supporters' clubs and anyone else in between.
The rewards have been immense, but none more so than the sense of belonging to an active AFC Bournemouth community far, far away from home!
Nick and the AFC Bournemouth Sydney Supporters' Group can be contacted on Twitter, @AFCBSydney.
Have you got an interesting story? Or are you spreading the AFC Bournemouth word in a far-flung corner of the globe? We want to hear from you! Email [email protected].