By Sam Fletcher – @_SamFletcher
BOURNEMOUTH manager Eddie Howe revealed that his side’s table-topping 4-0 victory over Blackpool was inspired by a pre-match speech from life-long supporter and terminally-ill Dave Barnes.
Barnes’ smile beamed brighter than any inside the Goldsands stadium when hat-trick hero Brett Pitman and team-mates dedicated the opening goal to him in the stands on Saturday.
The cancer-sufferer, who has supported the club since 1969, told the players that his condition was terminal before the game and wished them all the best for the game.
Howe said: “He came in to see us today and spoke to the players before the game – obviously it was a very emotional scene in the dressing room.
“At this stage in his life, Dave is showing incredible bravery, great spirit and he wanted to share the news with the players and to be with them at this time.”
The Cherries players, who thrived on the field, conducted themselves in an exemplary manner prior to kick-off as they offered emotional support and encouragement to Barnes.
Howe said: “I think the players were very mature in their dealings with him and they wanted to dedicate the win and the goals to him.
“Everyone at Bournemouth is supporting him at this time.”
Cherries striker Callum Wilson, who scored Bournemouth’s fourth, admitted that the emotional moment before the game motivated the team throughout the all-important 4-0 victory.
“It was great inspiration,” Wilson said, “him coming in before the game and speaking to us all.
“He put a lump in our throats and tears in a few eyes – it was very touching and moving what he said.”
This was a moment when football’s relative insignificance was put into perspective whilst its beauty was embraced as a means for celebration and comfort.
“It makes you appreciate life and appreciate how lucky we are to be doing what we’re doing,” Wilson said.
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