Archive for April, 2010

Season Review 1985-86


The new season started with a new manager and several new players but the close season had not been without its fair share of controversy. The majority of Chester fans were angered and disappointed when Mickey Speight was not given the managers job following his tremendous efforts during the previous season but the fans choice was too outspoken for the Directors liking. The new man in charge was ex Wigan Athletic boss Harry McNally and he quickly set about the task of assembling a squad, signing the likes of David Glenn, Milton Graham, John Kelly, Peter Houghton, Wakeley Gage and Gary Bennett.

Just 1,750 fans turned out for Harry McNally’s first competitive game of the season, a 1-1 home draw with Halifax Town in which Stuart Rimmer scored whilst game number two brought a 3-0 defeat at Peterborough United. Mr McNally soon made his presence felt and as the new players began to settle in an unbeaten run of 9 games followed. The first win in the league was at Tranmere Rovers where the scoreline was 3-0 whilst a Peter Houghton goal was enough to secure the first home victory, against Hereford United.

This period also brought a fine 3-0 win at Torquay United and 4-0 home wins against both Burnley and Crewe Alexandra, Gary Bennett scored his first two goals for the club in the latter. Stuart Rimmer took the side to even greater heights, however, when he celebrated his 21st birthday by scoring 4 goals in the 6-3 win at Preston North End, a result that left us third in the table.

That fine spell ended when Swindon Town won 1-0 at the Stadium on October 19th, our first home defeat in the league but the side again bounced back with an unbeaten run of 10 games. The 4-0 home win against Colchester United on November 6th took us to top spot, a position we retained until the turn of the year. Unfortunately this period also brought the seasons low point when Stuart Rimmer suffered damaged knee ligaments whilst scoring against Leyton Orient, an injury that was to end his season.

Wakeley Gage had also returned south just prior to the Orient game, Mickey Speight had gone even further afield, taking up a coaching position in Norway and Andy Holden was finding his season ravaged by injury. New faces arrived as replacements with Ian Richardson signing from Watford with the unenviable job of replacing Stuart Rimmer, John Bramhall moving in on loan and Graham Abel stepping up from non-league soccer. Goalkeeper Ray Cashley was another temporary recruit.

A 3-2 defeat at Cambridge United on Boxing Day proved to be a mere “blip” and the New Year was celebrated with a 4-1 thumping of Port Vale. That victory was the first game in a 6 match unbeaten run but that ended with a surprise 3-2 home defeat against Northampton Town in early February. The jitters then set in for a while with no wins coming from a further 6 game spell. Despite this “iffy” spell second place was maintained and with the manager making shrewd use of the loan system fortunes were gradually restored.

Billy Wright, Earl Barrett, Steve Johnson and Barry Butler all arrived at the club and it was a goal from Wrght that helped us on the way to a 2-0 win against Preston North End. With that result under the belt the final run in of 11 games produced just two more defeats, 4-2 at Swindon Town where we did not get a fair crack of the whip and 2-0 at Scunthorpe United on the final day of the season. On April 19th a goalless draw at Leyton Orient secured promotion though in the end we had to settle for second place behind Swindon Town, all this on an average game of just 2,922!

Statistically Speaking

Of 46 games player, 23 resulted in victories, 15 were drawn and 8 lost, 83 goals were scored and 50 conceded. Our tally of just 5 defeats away from home was the best in all divisions, a record that we shared with Liverpool and Derby County. Martin Lane, Bobby Coy, John Kelly and Gary Bennett were the mainstays of the side, all reaching the 40 game mark and beyond.

Cup Football

Unfortunately, or maybe it was fortunately, cup football didn’t prove much of a distraction from our efforts in the league. In the Milk Cup Tranmere Rovers were beaten 3-1 on aggregate (courtesy of a 3-1 win at Prenton Park) before Coventry City stopped our gallop with a 9-3 aggregate victory. Youngster David Murray had made his debut at Highfield Road where we tried to attack our more illustrious opponentns and ended up losing 7-2!

Bury beat us in the first round of the FA Cup, 2-0 the score at Gigg Lane, whilst interested in the Freight Rover Trophy ended after defeats against Rochdale (1-0) and Wigan Athletic (2-0). In fairness these last two games were used to “Blood” youngsters such as Mark Sconce, Brian Croft, Colin Woodthorphe, Ritchie Palmer and Ian Bailey whilst Bobby Coy had a fine game in goal at Spotland if my memory serves me right!

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crest Our first competitive meeting came in the fourth round tie of the 1946/47 FA Cup Competition. We were then in the Third Division North and the City was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a First Division side visiting Sealand Road. The Potters included three England Internationals in their side, Sir Stanley Matthews, Freddie Steele and Neil Franklin for the tie on January 25th 1947. A crowd of 18.706 paid club record receipts at the time of £2,700.

The Chester defence marked Stanley Matthews tightly on the right flank for the first half hour. The England international tried switching to the left but the City defenders stuck to their task brilliantly. Stoke City had came close to opening the scoring before the half time interval but keeper George Scales handled perfectly whilst ace marksman Dick Yates had little change out of Stoke’s Neil Franklin.

Despite all the pressure from a top flight Stoke City side, Chester could have won the game, for just minutes from the end Jackie Arthur was right through and hit a rasping drive which keeper Jepson somehow pulled out a wonder save. Goalless it finished, by the time of the replay a fortnight later snow had fallen on the Victoria Ground and the First Division side were cruising at 3-0 after 65 minutes courtesy of two Freddie Steele strikes and one from Alex Ormston, before tremendous right back Bobby Hamilton and Dick Yates reduced the arrears but it wasn’t quite enough.

We have to go back to the early 1990s for our first league meetings with Stoke City. During our two year exile at Macclesfield, few will have forgotten City’s superb victory over Stoke City that kept our heads above the relegation flood tide. Some 18,000 Stoke City fans had come to praise the Potters in their bid for promotion but Chester were there to bury them and bury them we did. This was a magnificent performance of battling and sheer never say die grit by the Blues, over seen by chess grandmaster Harry McNally who had worked out a scheme to stymie the title chasing home side.

No one did more to personify Chester’s bloody-minded determination than striker Gary Bennett who snarled aggression and commitment over every blade of grass at The Victoria Ground. He got his reward too with a second half winner and he gave the massively experienced Noel Blake a nightmare of an afternoon. From the start Chester set out to frustrate with that curtain of five across the midfield and it stalled Stoke’s efforts at a fast start. In fact Chester looked the more dangerous when Bennett and strike partner Stuart Rimmer harrying and chivvying up front. Both almost sneaked through before Billy Stewart had a save to make, coming out to bravely halt Stein, but Bennett lanced through at the other end to be halted by a desperate Blake.

stuart rimmer 1986

Blues skipper Graham Barrow forced Ronnie Sinclair into a parrying save with a volley before Stein again tormented Chester down the left and Biggins crashed his diving header into the advertising hoardings. Just as the storm reached its height Chester broke away. Paul Comstive played the ball through, Bennett shrugged off Blake and advanced to beat Sinclair left footed before wheeling away to celebrate in style.

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Officials from Cheshire West and Chester Council have revealed that The New Saints have resurrected their interest in playing at the Deva Stadium.
Earlier this year, the Saints investigated the possibility of ground-sharing at the former home of Chester City after being refused financial aid by Welsh Grounds Improvement to build a new stand at their current Park Hall stadium in Oswestry.
But they were unable to make progress before the Welsh Premier league’s deadline date, due to the uncertainty over City’s future.
However, TNS did lodge an application with the league which would enable them to ground-share at a future date if the necessary arrangements could be made at a suitable venue.
Several organisations have spoken to council officials regarding the possible tenancy or sharing of the Deva, including supporters’ group City Fans United, Danish consortium, Fodbold Selskabet and Chester University.
A council official confirmed to the Daily Post that talks had taken place with the University and The New Saints, but was not prepared to elaborate.
City Fans United issued a statement confirming their application to take over the Deva tenancy.
"It is our belief that we have the complete backing of both our membership and the wider community as we enter the most critical stage of the application process," it reads.
"We also have the support of local and national businesses of all sizes, and in addition we have developed an excellent relationship with the football authorities."
Andrew Dyer

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Former Chester City FC owner Stephen Vaughan and his son have been released on bail following an alleged assault on a police officer, according to reports in the local press today.

A 28-year-old officer is in hospital after suffering from a fractured cheek and bruising to his head and body after the incident at the Jug and Bottle Hotel on Mount Avenue, Heswall.

Vaughan Snr, 48, Stephen Jnr, 25, and a 29-year-old man from Neston are all due to appear in Heswall Police Station in early May after being arrested on suspicion of a fray and assaulting the officer.

Police say the officer had been investigating an earlier disturbance at the hotel, which is close to Vaughan Snr’s home, at about 10.10pm on Sunday, April 4.

All three men fled the scene of the alleged assault in a dark-coloured Aldi car at about 11pm.

Merseyside Police spokesman Simon Wood said: “Police can confirm three men have been arrested following a disturbance at the Jug and Bottle Hotel on Mount Avenue, Heswall.

“The officer was investigating the earlier disturbance at the Jug and Bottle when he was assaulted by the three men at around 10.55pm on Thurstaston Road in Heswall.

“The 28-year-old officer was treated in hospital for a fractured cheekbone and bruising to his head and body.”

He added: “The three men have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.”

Vaughan Snr took over as chairman and majority shareholder of Chester City FC in 2001 but following relegation to the Blue Square Premier League last year the club was finally wound up at the High Court in March over an unpaid tax bill.

Vaughan Jnr is a former captain of the club who now plays for Liverpool club Marine FC.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to ring Merseyside Police on 0151 709 6010 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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City Fans United have taken further steps towards achieving their ambition of restoring senior football to Chester.

The 1,300-strong Supporters’ Trust group is waiting for the green light from the council to take over the lease at the vacant Deva Stadium.

That would allow CFU to truly get their reformed ‘Chester Football Club’ off the ground – but the waiting game has not stopped them from making real progress this week.

CFU chairman Chris Pilsbury said: “We’ve continued to talk to potential sponsors of the club and we’re getting a really positive response from them. We’re moving ahead with this and it’s looking good.

“We’re also beginning to work on getting the infrastructure of the club in place. We’ve started to do this in the hope that we get the go-ahead from the council, and if we do it will allow us to hit the ground running on the football side.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council, the owners of the Deva, has given interested parties until April 19 to declare their intention to run a club based at the ground.

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The Chester City Former Players Associaion is continuing to grow and has recently passed the 50 membership mark with the signing of Noel Bradley.  He was soon followed in the ranks by Darryn Stamp, Luke Beckett, John Kelly, former manager Jim Harvey and Billy Windle.

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Following the success of the Exiles organised bucket collection last week’s at AFC Wimbledon a group of CFU members raised money by the same means at the Easter Monday match between AFC Telford United and Gloucester City. The group collected £626.31 which was donated by supporters of both clubs at the New Bucks Head Stadium.

Lifelong Chester fan Ed Jones said, “Supporters of both AFC Telford and Gloucester City were a credit to their respective clubs”, and City Fans United would also like to express its thanks to both clubs for the generosity displayed by both officials and supporters, and would like to extend its thanks to the Chester fans who helped raise the money on the day.

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