THE Bournemouth fans who raised almost £3,000 to help Burton Albion fans travel to the FA Cup third round clash at Dean Court have been rewarded with VIP tickets to the final at Wembley this weekend.
David Whitehead and fan Adrian Lee were rewarded for their ingenuity, with the FA giving them complimentary tickets to Saturday’s showpiece between Arsenal and Hull City.
The pair were responsible for raising the money towards the cost of return coaches after Burton’s trip to the south coast in January had been postponed at the 11th hour.
A website was set up to help pay for the Brewers faithful to travel back to Dorset for the rearranged match, with the scheme receiving widespread publicity and acclaim throughout football.
“It is absolutely fantastic,” Whitehead told the Bournemouth Echo. “I never expected this."
Whitehead came up with the idea because of the goodwill between the two sets of supporters, established after Cherries had been made welcome at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium when sealing promotion from League Two in 2010.
He said: “I knew there would be a response because the initial feedback had been positive but the way it took off was just phenomenal.
“It wasn’t just Bournemouth supporters, people from different clubs and countries wanted to chip in as well.
“I have always thought about football as a fantastic way to make friends. As and when an opportunity arises for rival fans to extend the hand of friendship and do something really positive, I think we should.
"It is a counter-balance to some of the bad publicity so there is another side to football and I think we showed that here.”
Lee said: “I was overwhelmed to receive a ticket. When I got the email from the FA, I had to read it three or four times before it sank in. It is brilliant.
"I saw David had put a message out on the Vitals forum saying he would like to raise money for the Burton fans and I thought I knew how to get it rolling, so set up a Just Giving page.
“It started with the intention of maybe buying a few pies but quickly went global due to social media.”