I had been very surprised when we were invited to cater with paella at the last Premiere League match for AFCB of the season. That’s because I hadn’t known that since last year the manager of The Cherries was a Spaniard, who allegedly eats paella and drinks Estrella and probably other things that (just about) rhyme with Andoni Iraola. Ian knew this (of course!) and we agreed to go and see if the fans would follow their team’s leader on the paella front. It was explained that we would be pitching up in the new Fanzone area at the Vitality stadium, built to offer all the fans a bit of civilised pre-match hospitality: a well-stocked and reasonably priced bar, quality street food options from local suppliers, a big screen for the build-up broadcasts and live music.

We turned up with our big pans etc on the morning of Saturday 11th May and were set up next to the bar (our favourite place!). Hordes of Vitality Stadium staff were all working hard to get things ready for crowds of Home fans to start coming in from Midday, and for Away fans to follow along closer to the start time of 3pm. In that time we enjoyed a slow but steady stream of slightly bewildered customers, some of whom were taking the plunge into a paella for the first time, and others who had already had our paella before but were definitely not expecting to see us at a football match. I had redeemed myself for my earlier ignorance by coming up with a sign slogan to help us break the ice with any pie die-hards.

We were unaware that a hungry reporter called @EchoSportJack at the Bournemouth Echo had bought dishes from all three of the street food stalls there that day, and a few days later he published the findings and summarised…

“Not everyone can say they’ve had paella at a Premiere League ground – perhaps at least outside of hospitality! In fact, the novelty of the paella – combined with the quality – placed it top of my rankings, with the pizza and fish & chips in close second and third.”

Subscribers can read Jack Tanner’s full article in the Bournemouth Daily Echo, published on 15 May 2024 at