Months of preparation, wrangling and coercion went into the production of “An Evening with LeeBradbury and Steve Fletcher”, a University backed chat show featuring AFC Bournemouth’s management duo. Filmed in front of a live audience, the ambitious project was a realisation of avision- originally thought up by a group of Multi-Media Journalism students. Speaking for over anhour, Bradbury and Fletcher laid bare their relationship with the club and thoughts on thebusiness end of the season. Nerve Sport’s Adam Parris-Long was in attendance for an evening to remember.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Lee Bradbury squints under the studio lights while right-hand man Steve Fletcher gets comfortable. The pair are sat closely together on a two-seater sofa under the steely gaze of five cameras, 12 audience members and countless crew. There is a rumble of excitement around the studio floor, after hours of preparation and practice Bradbury and Fletcher are finally here. It’s go time.
As filming begins the pair look in good spirits, mixing with fans casually. There again this is but a brief respite in a dizzying schedule, Bradbury and Fletcher’s move to management taking up a lot more of their time than they would have originally thought.
“Sometimes we are in the office until gone six or seven o’clock, I have to ring and tell the wife I won’t be home for a while” admits Lee. Quizzed by presenters Callum Hopkins and Charlotte Neal, the Isle-of-Wight born man smiles. “At times it was tough but Steve and I are getting used to it. The hardest time was just after I was given the job full-time as we had the transfer window to negotiate”.
Bradbury was unable to keep midfield lynchpin Marvin Bartley (snapped up by former Cherries boss Eddie Howe at Burnley) but managed to safeguard the rest of his stars, taking a no-nonsense stance. After an incredible start to life in the hot seat, Bradbury was given his first true test as manager after defender Rhoys Wiggins demanded a transfer to suitors Watford.
“Keeping the boys together was also going to be key,” Lee continues. “To be fair we have to give credit to the chairman (Eddie Mitchell) for his ambition and determination to keep everyone at the club. Losing Marvin was unfortunate but we had to move on and push forward”.
Changing pace, Lee and Steve watch with the audience as a pre-recorded video is played to them. On screen is a tightly-crafted feature showing AFC Bournemouth’s recent draw to Charlton at Dean Court. There is a twist however. Interspersed with footage of the climactic game is close ups on Lee, Cherries director Jeff Mostyn and fans engrossed in the match. Chuckling at every jump, kick and cry from the sideline, Steve grins.
“Sometimes it feels like I am still playing even off the pitch. I have my assistant-manager head on so it is tough to adapt back to player but for Charlton it was the opposite. After starting the game I watched on the last half an hour as we pushed forward. I was impressed by the amount of chances we created with me off the field, Jayden Stockley and Danny Ings were terrific. As you can see from Lee’s reaction there we were disappointed not to get the win”.
After further grilling, Lee and Steve are subject to the wrath of the audience. Fielding a question on experiences of refereeing over the last few games, Fletcher winces. “I feel we have got the bad end of it over the past few weeks but there is nothing you can do about it. Those moments change seasons and entire careers so it is a shame to see decisions go against you. That Charlton game is a prime example of a poor ref costing us the game”.
Finally, Callum poses the killer question. “Can you take Bournemouth up, Lee?” Bradbury does not hesitate for a second. “Of course I can. You always have to believe”.
By Adam Parris-Long
The final programme will be available for subscription on Cherries Player. You can visit AFC Bournemouth’s website for more details.