October 12, 2017
We found Jim, the Bournemouth hero…
The image was captured by the cameras of SFR Sports. The search was launched by the club on social media and the message was relayed by the big national media outlets. But who is this hero who could turn up at a Premier League match with an old Gym shirt on his back? OGCNICE.com lead the enquiries, assisted by AFC Bournemouth. The hero is called Jim. He picked up his telephone, in high spirits, to talk to us about his life.
We've found him! We'll DM you his details...— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) 11 octobre 2017
and for the win! https://t.co/qbT3eBE1GI
“My friends told me that there were a couple of articles, but to be honest, I didn’t know that people were looking for me. It’s crazy!” After he had been given a little tap on the back, we couldn’t stop ourselves from checking in on the most Niçois of the English. Hand against hand, a pat on the back, we would have invited him to come a sit down in a cafe, with joy and curiosity. He may have lead us to one of his former haunts in Old Nice, highly popular with the night owls and, more specifically the Brits on holiday in the most beautiful city in the world. “In the four years that I spent here (from 2002 until 2006), I used to like to go to Mac Mahon. I watched Premier League games or the rugby there”, he finally confessed from London, from where he spontaneously picked up the phone. The pint of friendship (sorry, coffee) will wait. The presentations won’t wait however.
“I worked in Monaco, but for me, they are a “big fake”. I immediately chose Nice, for its soul and its culture”
But how on earth did we get to this moment that brightened up the match between Bournemouth and Leicester (0-0, 30 September)? How did a Gym shirt from the 2002/03 season pop up amongst all those Cherries fans in pure coolness? The questions are queuing up, Jim Attridge (41 years old) welcomes them and provides his answers: “In 2002, I arrived in the region for professional reasons. I am a teacher and I was offered a job at the International School in Monaco. I accepted the offer but before moving, I came here for 4 days to find out where I was going to live.” Logic would have encouraged him to to migrate to the Principality. The Englishman preferred to follow his instinct and to head towards the Promenade. “Monaco, it isn’t for me. Everyone looks at you, it’s artificial, you get the feeling that you are in a fish bowl. It was impossible for me to go there.”
His voice rises, coming from the heart and explains. “However, Nice, is something else… As soon as I came here, I knew that I was going to set myself up here. The atmosphere, the colours, the heat: this city has a soul. I teach history, and in Nice, formerly a Greek city, there is lots of history and culture compared to Monaco, which is a big fake and not very real. During my visit, I loved the Monastère de Cimiez, the house that Monet lived in (in Antibes), the castle… All the teachers that were there with me were living in Menton or along that way. But for me, my choice was made straight away.” This choice threw him into the heart of the capital of the Comté. “I had an apartment in the Old Town. Rue du Gesù.”
Jim therefore discovered "the Nissart way of life". He sampled “socca”, ate ice cream at Fenocchio, was left stunned by the “Bubble Gum or Tomato” flavours, but settled on the “rum raisin”. He strode through the area, stopped in the restaurants, visited the museums, soaked up the local habits. His immersion didn’t take long to take a step towards the Gym.
“I saw an incredibly boring match, but the fans didn’t stop. It was for me”
A Bournemouth fan, he travelled to the Ray for the first time in 2002, just as the Aiglons had got back into the top-flight. He returned on three occasions and was won over. “I remember an incredibly boring 0-0, where the fans didn’t stop singing for one second. It was for me, I knew it straight away.” Like the club of his heart, the Gym play in red and black. This link allowed him to melt away into the decor of the Vitality Stadium when he returned to the country.
Upon his return, things had changed. His horizon had been extended and his heart, now split in two, is held together by a diagonal line of 1573 kilometres long. “Outside of football, there is a real connection between Bournemouth and Nice. The two cities have things in common, they are next to the sea, have beaches, like football…” With a season ticket for the Cherries, the father of two admits to alternating “between the two shirts” when he heads to the matches of the side currently in 19th place in the Premier League. An eye kept on France, he saluted the progress made by the club, that he continues to follow “on Sky”. He sat on the fence, however, when a potential clash between his two loves was evoked. “I would be for Bournemouth if the match was played here, and for the Gym if it was played in Nice.” In a murmur, he also concedes that he is a fan “of Tottenham, whose captain is Hugo Lloris, which reinforces a bit his idea of being linked to the city.” He suggested, in a final point, “that we give his name to a road in Nice.” A discussion without losing his good mood, continues without tiring. Well rounded, regal.
The invitation launched on social media still stands. Jim, who comes back to Nice on average once every two years, but who has never been to the Allianz Riviera, will have free access to the match of his choice.
Another chance to chat with this unique supporter. At the bar, with a pint of friendship.
Sorry, in a café…
F.H. et C.D.