STUART Heath has hailed the relationship between the Magpies and AFC Bournemouth over recent seasons, praising the work of both clubs in helping the development of young football talent.
The Cherries play Dorchester in a pre-season friendly at the Avenue tomorrow (3pm), with boss Eddie Howe set to field a different side in each half of the match.
And on the eve of the Championship club’s appearance in the county town, Dorchester assistant-manager Heath told Echosport just how important the link between the two clubs has been.
“Bournemouth have been really important for us over the years, and the relationship works both ways,” he said.
“Those who have come to us have gone back as better players for experiencing the physical demands of semi-professional football.
“We have taken some lads from Bourne-mouth who are not just good footballers but grounded individuals who have been well educated by Eddie Howe and Steve Purches.
“The guys that have come in have been top notch, on and off the pitch, and it’s a credit to Bournemouth that they are like that.
“And credit should go to us as well because Bournemouth feel as though they can still send their players to us.
“I think the likes of Brandon Goodship and Josh McCarthy who we had last season will be knocking on the door of the Bournemouth first team this season.”
Goodship, McCarthy, Josh Wakefield, Charlie Losasso and Aristide Bassele all came to Dorchester on loan from the Goldsands Stadium last term.
And despite Dorchester being relegated, Heath hopes the relationship with the Cherries can carry on.
He added: “We hope the relationship can continue and we can look after their lads and send them back as better players.
“The Southern League is a very competitive league and for first-year pros it is still a good standard to play at.”
Defender Oakley Hanger will feature for the hosts tomorrow, but forwards Dan Cann and Dan Munday are both unavailable.
Heath went on to say: “We’ve already played two good teams and I think Bournemouth will be the toughest of all our pre-season games.
“It will be a real test of our defensive discipline and organisation, and that’s the first thing you need to nail down.”
Meanwhile, yesterday saw the publication of next season’s Southern League Premier fixtures.
Dorchester begin at Arlesey Town on August 9 before travelling to Burnham the following Tuesday and hosting demoted Hereford United on the second Saturday of the campaign.
The first of the Ridgeway derbies with Weymouth is at the Bob Lucas Stadium on August 25, with the return match at the Avenue on Boxing Day.
Commenting on the fixtures, Heath said: “We’re going into unknown territory a bit.
“While you never want to get relegated, you are going to be playing different teams and visiting different grounds and it’s an exciting new challenge.
“We’ll hope to go into the season with as much confidence and belief as possible, and it’s important for any club that’s been relegated to hit the ground running early on and get off to a good start.”