Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: -1°C Thursday 6 May 2021

'The staff didn't get wages for 3 months' - Ireland's Harry Arter on a true underdog story

The Bournemouth player chats to The42 after his side were effectively promoted.

Bournemouth's Harry Arter celebrates with fans on the pitch after the final whistle against Bolton last Monday.
Bournemouth's Harry Arter celebrates with fans on the pitch after the final whistle against Bolton last Monday.

BOURNEMOUTH’S HARRY ARTER is still growing accustomed to the fact that, unless upcoming opponents Charlton go through with their threat to secure a 19-0 victory next Saturday, he will be a Premier League player next season.

It’s been a long journey for Arter to reach this point, helping to earn his club a reported £120million in the process. The player began his career at Charlton and even featured for the team as a substitute in the League Cup as early as 2007, however a bad injury ultimately scuppered his progress and by 2009, he was playing non-league football with Woking, following loan spells with Staines Town and Welling United.

He recalls his frustration after injuries threatened to derail his progress in the game completely.

“It was difficult as it was at quite a young age,” he tells The42. “I just wanted to enjoy football again. I didn’t want to go on trial anywhere so I just went and played for my friend’s team. It was that simple really.”

An impressive season with Woking saw him linked with a number of Football League clubs, before he eventually signed for Bournemouth. And the 25-year-old has evidently gone from strength to strength since then, scoring eight goals in 42 appearances for the Cherries this season.

“I wanted to play football every week because I missed it so much [when I was injured] and my mentality was to just work hard and try to get back into the league. I managed to do that within a year and then my focus was to try and prove myself in every league I played in.

“I’d like to think I’ve done well up until now and eventually, my goal was to get in the Premier League. Essentially, I’ve achieved that, but there’s still a lot of hard work to do to try and prove myself as a Premier League player, so as much as I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, it’s still up to me to try to seize opportunities.”

Source: AFC Bournemouth/YouTube

Moreover, Arter’s improbable rise mirrors Bournemouth’s own underdog story. The club came close to going into liquidation on three occasions in six months only seven years ago, and started the 2008-09 season in League Two with a 17-point penalty.

Before this year, their highest-ever finish was 10th in the Championship last year, and with a crowd capacity of only 11,700, Bournemouth’s home ground Dean Court is far from a typical Premier League stadium.

“The club have endured a lot of difficult times,” Arter says. “Six years ago, they were one game away from going out of business. But the players and fans stuck by the team. It was always a small community, but they’ve stayed loyal to the club.

“At one point, the staff didn’t get wages for three months. So it’s great for everyone that’s worked hard to finally see a bit of success.”

Source: ShivDes357/YouTube

37-year-old manager Eddie Howe made over 200 appearances for the club as a player between 1994 and 2002, and is in his second stint as Bournemouth manger, previously taking charge between 2008 and 2011, before returning in 2012 following a short stint at the helm of Burnley.

Coupled with the investment of Russian benefactor Maxim Demin, who has bankrolled the club since 2011, Howe’s astute management has taken the side to new levels, having been previously most famous for an isolated result — the 1984 FA Cup giant-killing of Manchester United.

Currently renowned as a team that plays good football, Arter attributes their success to Howe’s philosophy and the high standards demanded of the team.

“I personally think it’s down to hard work. Not many people expected us to be second and that may have been something that played in our favour.

“We weren’t really seen as a team that could challenge. But during the season, we started to get noticed and we knew that we would have a good chance.

“We stuck to our principles throughout the season, which was hard work and trying to play the right way, whether we had a good or bad result, and ultimately, we got our reward.”

And Arter is hopeful that their emphasis on passing football will be even more suited to the Premier League in comparison with the Championship.

“We’d like to think that that suits the Premier League better. When you watch Premier League games, they are a lot more technical and possession-based.

“We’ve earned our success this year and so, there’s no way we’ll change that going into the Premier League next year.

“We probably have to raise our level and expect better of ourselves next year, but we certainly won’t change our philosophy.”

Furthermore, Arter’s part in Bournemouth’s success story did not go unnoticed at international level.

The 25-year-old Londoner expressed eagerness to represent Ireland after rumours suggested the management were keen on getting in touch, with the midfielder qualifying to play for the Boys in Green through his Sligo-born grandmother, and previously playing for the team at U17 and U19 level.

Harry Arter 29/3/2006 Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

(Harry Arter pictured lining out for Ireland U17s)

O’Neill subsequently went to watch Arter and was highly complimentary when asked about his performance, before eventually selecting him in the squad to face Poland, as he became the first Bournemouth player to be involved in the Irish set-up since former goalkeeper Gerry Peyton.

“It was a fantastic experience,” Arter says of the Poland game, for which he was named on the bench. “There were kinds of things that people who are in squads for a long time don’t appreciate as much. Things like pulling up to the ground and seeing all the Irish fans there was a massive experience for me. It was very overwhelming.

“So it was nice to experience that and be part of such a fantastic squad with top, top players. Training with great coaches like Martin O’Neill, Roy Keane and Steve Guppy was a really good experience. It’s something I’ll look to savour and hopefully experience more of.”

Arter credits O’Neill, in particular, with helping to motivate him for the end-of-season run-in.

“He was paying me some very nice compliments, which made me feel very good. For Martin O’Neill to pay you a compliment, with the stuff he’s achieved in the game, was a big deal for me. He gave me the confidence to finish the season strongly. He said he had faith in me to do well and faith in Bournemouth to go up. Things like that do give you a boost and I like to think I finished the season well.

“I really enjoyed the last five or six games, and without a doubt, my time away with Ireland gave me the confidence to believe I’m good enough and to believe we can get promoted. So I’ve got a lot to thank him for really.”

Harry After Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

(Harry Arter pictured training with Ireland ahead of last month’s Poland game)

And while Arter says he is ready to play if necessary against Scotland, he acknowledges that his first-team opportunities may be limited for now.

“Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy are top, top players and they’ve played in the Premier League for the majority of their career. They’ve done that because they’ve earned that right and they’ve earned the right to have so many caps for Ireland. I haven’t played a Premier League game yet or earned any caps for Ireland, so I don’t expect anything.

“I’m just going to try to work hard and impress as much as I can and in any shape or form, try to help the team. So whatever the manager wants me to do, I’m more than happy to play that part.”

Arter will almost certainly feature on Saturday, as Bournemouth still have a chance to win the Championship against Charlton, provided they better Watford’s result against Sheffield Wednesday.

Source: AFC Bournemouth/YouTube

Yet the midfielder, along with other Championship-based Irish players, have over a month to wait until their next potential competitive game, as they prepare to come up against Scotland on 13 June in a vital Euro 2016 qualifier.

“I will probably go away with my family and I’ll probably do some extra work on my own. Every pre-season, it’s very rare for me not to do work by myself. So I’m used to working hard on my own. Fitness won’t be a problem, I’ll just have to get ready for the game by myself.”

After Saturday however, Arter can at least afford to unwind for a few days on the club’s end-of-season holiday.

“The club are taking the team away to Las Vegas next week as a celebration for the players. That’s the only thing we have planned really. It’s only for four days, so we’ll look to enjoy that as a squad and then, in all honesty, we’ll just be focusing on next season.”

Look out for Part 2 of our interview with Harry Arter tomorrow on the site, as we further discuss the Ireland-Scotland game and get his thoughts on the furore surrounding Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish’s international future.

Who is Ireland’s new midfielder Harry Arter?>

Two regular Ireland internationals may be playing in League One next season>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

Read next: