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Cherries: Cotterill saw me right, says Fletch
Published : 15 Mar 2010 07:00:00
STEVE Fletcher expects no more favours from his old pal Steve Cotterill. Fletcher says he is still indebted to Cotterill for helping him through some dark days at Dean Court. Paired together by Tony Pulis at the start of the 1993-94 season, Cotterill capped his debut campaign by lifting the prestigious supporters' player-of-the-year award. A founder member of the Crazy Gang, Cotterill marked his arrival from Wimbledon by netting 14 goals as Cherries struggled to 17th place in Division Two. Alongside him, a raw and impressionable Fletcher endured a second barren year following a £30,000 move from Hartlepool. The transfer fee weighed heavily on Fletcher's shoulders, while his tally of 10 goals from 67 league appearances did little to convince Cherries fans it had been money well spent. A year later, Fletcher was celebrating. After Cotterill's career had been prematurely cut short following a serious knee injury sustained 10 games into the Great Escape season, Fletcher went on to be crowned player of the year. Steve took me under his wing, recalled Fletcher. My first couple of years were hard. I started playing alongside Efan Ekoku and was a lone striker after he had been sold. I was young and needed someone to come in and help me out. Steve had experience of playing at a higher level with Wimbledon and was happy to pass it on. He used to sit me down and we would talk through things. He would back me up in the paper and I remember him jumping to my defence when someone criticised me at a fans' forum. Things like that stick in your mind. I had moved down from Hartlepool and it was tough. Steve really looked after me during those early years and it is something I've always appreciated. I've kept in touch ever since. While Cotterill eventually moved into management, firstly with Sligo Rovers and then Cheltenham, Fletcher's career with Cherries went from strength to strength. The pair will renew acquaintances when Cherries meet Notts County in a Sky Sports-televised League Two showdown at Meadow Lane tonight (7.45pm kick-off). Cotterill, who has kept the family home in Dorset, has overseen four successive victories since taking charge of the Magpies last month with County now just a point behind Cherries. Fletcher said: He will have his players fired up. They are on a great run and are probably the most in-form team in the division. They are hitting top form at the right time and we will need to be at our best. We know the quality they have got in their team. They were always going to be a major player in the promotion battle and you always thought they would go on a run and do well. It's an important game for both clubs. They are one of the teams around us and will be looking to catch us. It should be a great game and, being on Sky, adds a bit of extra spice. Steve has watched most of our games for the best part of a couple of years and will know what we are all about. But we played County a few weeks ago and we know a bit about them as well. We played well against them at home and our first-half display was one of our best of the season. They will be looking for revenge and will be looking to stop them catching us. It has all the makings of being a decent game.