Photographer Anthony Blake goes behind the scenes at AFC Bournemouth and interviews Marc Pugh
PUBLISHED: 10:01 09 June 2014
Anthony Blake Photography
As a lifelong supporter of AFC Bournemouth, professional photographer Anthony Blake can often be found in the stands cheering ‘The Cherries’ on. We asked him to go behind the scenes with his camera and introduce us to Dorset’s only professional football club
If you pay a visit to the newly named Goldsands Stadium to watch Dorset’s only professional football club, AFC Bournemouth, you will certainly be pleasantly surprised. For far too long financial constraints have kept the Bournemouth faithful in the shadows of lower league football but this year the club’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better: firstly with new investment and then promotion to the Championship, only the second time in the Club’s 115 year history.
The Cherries recipe for success is not just about investment. The players have been a key part of the story currently unfolding at what used to be known as Dean Court. One of the team’s most popular players is AFC Bournemouth’s number 7, Marc Pugh. Better known to the supporters as Puuuuggghhh! Marc was born in Bury, Lancashire, and grew up in the small town of Rossendale, between Bury and Burnley. He moved down to Dorset with his wife Laura in 2010 when he signed with AFC Bournemouth.
Midfielder and winger Marc Pugh may be a Lancashire lad at heart but since moving to Bournemouth he and his family have fallen in love with Dorset...
He takes some time out from training to tell us more…
AB. You’re one of the more experienced Bournemouth players and a fans’ favourite, how does it feel when they call out Puuuuggghhh!?
MP: It’s a great feeling! Ever since I arrived at Bournemouth the fans have been good to me - both home and away. I just love being at the club. I like the fans, the players and everything about the place… it ticks all the boxes for me.
AB: It’s quite a change to move from the Cotton County to the Dorset’s golden coast – how have you settled in?
MP: Dorset is a beautiful place to live, we love it to bits. We are based in Ferndown which is great for the kids. We’re 15 minutes from the beach and 15 minutes from the town centre. My eldest daughter Halle, who is three, is very outgoing and likes playing football. Gracie is just six months but I’m sure she’ll be the same when she grows up. As a family we often visit places like Hengistbury Head and Poole Quay - we like to take our girls to all the fun places.
AB: Family life doesn’t always fit in with the image of a young and ambitious footballer’s career – what impact has this had on your career?
MP: They have made me the person I am today. I met my wife Laura at school, I was 15 and she was 14, and we’ve been together for 11 years. If I’d been a young lad going out all the time I may not have become the footballer I am today. Laura has had a massive impact on my life.
AB: Who would you say has had the biggest impact on you overall as a footballer?
MP: It has to be my Dad who has encouraged me since I was a lad. He was there on those cold rainy days and always wanted me to be a footballer. Mum, too, of course and then after I left home at 19 it has to be my wife Laura.
AB: You experienced the rags to riches era at AFC Bournemouth, now you’re enjoying the highs of Championship football, how does that feel?
MP: It’s amazing! Over the years there have been lots of ups and downs for the club but ever since I’ve been here we have been on the up so I have been really fortunate and blessed in that respect. Everyone wants to strive to be the best they can and I believe in time we can even make it to the Premiership.
AB: As a first team player what do you think is the reason for the feel good factor surrounding the club?
MP: I think the Gaffers (Manager, Eddie Howe & Assistant Manager, Jason Tindell - both former AFC Bournemouth players) are the main reason. Since Eddie and Jason returned to the club they have instilled confidence in the players and right through the club. They don’t just look at the players’ ability on the field they look at their ability off it as well. Also the new owner (Max Denim) has put a lot of financial backing into the club, giving it stability and this has really helped us to concentrate on our football.
AB: You recently drew Liverpool in the FA Cup narrowly going down 2-0 at home. How did it feel playing against footballing legends like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez?
MP: It’s good to test yourself against the best in the world. We were a little unlucky on the day not taking our chances and sadly they did. It’s what dreams are made of when you’re a kid. It was an amazing experience. I swapped shirts at the end with Daniel Sturridge who’ll be going to the World Cup. My daughter keeps wearing the shirt at home. That game will stick in my memory for a long time.
AB: Bournemouth have stepped up to the Championship. What is different about playing in this league?
MP: Fitness levels are higher for sure. Players have to be much quicker and more athletic. There’s no hiding at this level.
AB: The fans dream of Bournemouth reaching the Premiership one day - what do the players think?
MP: The likes of Norwich and Southampton in recent years have made the step up from League One and are performing really well - Swansea too! We may have a way to go yet but there’s no reason why we can’t get there.
AB: Off the pitch how do you relax?
MP: I have never been one to take my football home with me, although I normally end up playing football in the garden with the kids. My girls help keep my feet on the ground. To relax I like nothing better than taking a walk along the beach. It’s nice to get out on Dorset’s coast and spend time there with my family.