Cherries comment: Clark gracious in victory
IT was a fitting touch of class to end a proud night for the national game. As shattered Cherries emerged back into the arena defeated but far from disgraced a wall of noise greeted them. But having been on the receiving end of the vociferous home support throughout a dramatic evening, this was different. The Huddersfield Town public rose to applaud and recognise the efforts of the deflated opposition. Led by a tearful Steve Fletcher, Cherries had returned to thank their travelling fans. They got more than they bargained for. Cheered to the rafters by the magnanimous home fans and heavily praised by gracious Terriers boss Lee Clark, Cherries made many friends in the north. Given what the crowd had just witnessed, the post-match reaction should have come as no surprise. No matter what your allegiances, this Dean Court crop are an endearing bunch to watch never more so than on Wednesday night. The underdogs of the play-off quartet, Cherries were daring in their approach to the game and resilient when they looked down and out. They gave as good as they got in an epic encounter. Already described as a Football League classic, there can have been few better games screened by Sky Sports in recent years. Afterwards, the west Yorkshire public made their feelings known. Jubilant at their own victory, the fact they led the applause for the men from Dorset was a fine gesture from a club that knows what it is like to meet with misery in the play-offs. Knocked out at the same stage last year, Clark and his team learned the hard way. Now, Cherries must attempt to do the same. If they are to stand any chance of following Huddersfield by going one better in 2011-12, the close season will be crucial. The flip side of Cherries' rapid rise is the attention it has thrust upon the club's players. Supporters will be hoping for a quiet summer but face an anxious wait to discover whether Lee Bradbury's impressive squad will make it to the start line intact come August. There is likely to be no shortage of potential suitors for this talented group, while chairman Eddie Mitchell has already issued the hands-off warnings. But those worries should be saved for another day. For now, at least, the Dean Court faithful should enjoy what has been another remarkable campaign. With the prize great and the occasion the biggest some of the players would have faced, Cherries were brave in their approach and dared to dream. In short, they played their part in a game that captured the imagination of the football-watching nation. Like their Huddersfield counterparts and Terriers manager Clark, Cherries' fans should reflect on the nature of Wednesday's swashbuckling display and praise their boys. It has been a season worth applauding.
Related AFC Bournemouth News