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Former Chester City striker Michael Rose has today been named as Swindon Town’s first signing of the summer.   The left-back signs on a Free Transfer having left Stockport County at the end of last season.

Rose, a former Manchester United youth player, has signed an initial two year deal with Swindon with an option of a third. Michael Rose, 27, joined Chester City in 2001 during the ill fated Terry Smith era, after his release from Old Trafford.

Moves to Hereford United and Yeovil Town followed (along with caps for England’s semi-pro national team). Loan spells at Scunthorpe United and Cheltenham Town were followed by a move to Stockport County in 2006 where he settled.

Rose was a favourite among many County fans , playing over 100 times before making a loan move to Norwich City – helping them win League One last season.  Considered surplus to requirements, Rose has now joined Swindon Town.  Good luck for the new season Michael.

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hawarden rangers presentation evening - 1970 - awards presented by chester fc captain bob delgado

I dug out this great snapshot from the ‘True Blue’ archives, whilst researching the history of my local village team, Hawarden Rangers.  What a fantastic show of support for local non-league football, as capture by the Chester Chronicle. 

Chester FC certainly did work hard to build up local support in the 1970’s, and here’s a great example.  Legendary Chester FC captain, Bob Delgado, took time out to present trophies to local side, Hawarden Rangers at the Deeside Leisure Centre. 

Well done Bob and Chester FC, let’s hope we’ll see even more examples of this through the newly formed, support owned pheonix club in years to come.

ianrushchester2004

Ian Rush illustrates which direction Chester City Football Club were heading

 

Whilst researching the history of my local team, Hawarden Rangers Football Club, local legend, former Liverpool and Wales International striker Ian Rush spoke of his early days in the game.

The word "legend" is somewhat over-used in football these days, but an entire generation of football fans will no doubt agree that Ian Rush is one player truly deserving of the title.

A true football great, Rush is still idolised on the Kop for his goalscoring exploits for Liverpool throughout the club’s golden era in the 1980s.  Still the Reds’ record scorer with an incredible 346 goals from 660 games, Rush is revered on Merseyside along with Kenny Dalglish, with whom he formed arguably the most successful strike partnership in British football history.

We discussed his experiences as a young footballer in Wales and the start of his football journey, at none other than Hawarden Rangers Football Club.  Asking the great man how his journey began, Rushie answered:

“I played for Hawarden Rangers in north Wales at club level and also for Flintshire, the area side.  That’s how I was brought up.  We used to play two or three times a week sometimes. We just loved playing.”

Q:  “What age were you when you joined Chester, your first professional club?”

A: “I joined when I was 14 as a schoolboy but 16 when I was an apprentice.”

Q: “So thinking back to the days before you joined a professional club, what do you think of when you think of grassroots football?  What’s your abiding memory?”

A: “My abiding memory is that we just loved playing. We used to play on really muddy pitches in them days but it was just a matter of playing and winning. We were fortunate that we had a good side and we always kept winning but it didn’t matter if it was a Saturday, Sunday or a midweek game, it was just a matter of getting out there."

Q: “You said you had a good side there. Was there anyone else who you played with as a kid who has since made it?”

A: “I played with Kevin Ratcliffe and Barry Horne, people like that.  A few years after me people like Mark Hughes played.  North Wales was quite a hotbed!”

Q: “If you had one stand out memory from your early days in football what would that be?”

A: “Once when I was playing for my school team we played the local rivals, won 8-4 and I scored the eight goals!  Something like that is a great memory.”

Q: “Excellent.  That’s quite a story for them as well I’m sure!”

A: “I suppose it is, yeah!”

Q: “Who was the biggest influence you had when you were a young man?”

A: “There were a couple. My dad was a big influence because he helped me to go wherever I wanted. We didn’t have a car then so he used to take me on the bus everywhere.  Also, Cliff Sear at Chester was a massive influence.  He gave me the confidence to express myself as I should. From 14 when I signed for them up to when I left Chester, he was a big influence on the football side.”

Q: “And what was the best piece of advice you ever received as a young footballer?”

A: “It’s always worth listening to advice.  You never stop learning in football, even now. I think listen to what the coach says and enjoy it.  There’s a lot of pressure on kids today so I think the most important part is to enjoy it, because if you’re not enjoying it you won’t play your best football."

Q: “When you played on the park as a kid, did you have visions of scoring in front of the Kop or for Wales?”

A: “Yeah of course you do, because you have dreams don’t you?  I had dreams of scoring in FA Cup finals. As an Everton fan as a kid I had dreams of scoring in front of the Gladys Street End. If you don’t have dreams, what is there?"

Ian Rush profile

Date of birth: 20 October 1961

Place of birth: St Asaph, Flintshire

Height: 5′ 11" / 1.8m
Position: Striker

Grassroots clubs: St Richard Gwyn High School; Hawarden Rangers; Flintshire

Professional clubs: Chester City – 39 appearances (17 goals); Liverpool – 660 (346); Juventus – 39 (14); Leeds United – 43 (3); Newcastle United – 14 (2); Sheffield United (loan) – 4 (0); Wrexham (player coach) – 24 (0); Sydney Olympic – 2 (1); Career total – 825 (383)

International caps: Wales – 73 appearances (28 goals)

Hawarden Rangers Football Club was formed in 1974, by Elwyn Owen. The club’s patron is the grandson of the Victorian Prime Minister, Sir William Gladstone. This is the reason why the gates of Hawarden Castle are shown on the club crest. The club’s President is Mr Fred Evans who has been involved with the club since 1984 when he was one of the founder members of the junior section. He has since been the club chairman for a number of years until the year 2000 when he stepped down as chairman to become the club’s president keeping him involved within the club as recognition for all the many years of service.

At adult level, the club were founder members of the Clwyd League. This league was set up to improve the level of competition in the area. Even with the early success of the club it faltered and folded in 1990, only to be kick started back into life again the following season by Dave Dickel who is now the club secretary. The junior section was formed in 1984 by the amalgamation of the two local cub teams Hawarden Wayfarers and Pathfinders, who became Hawarden United which later changed its name to become Hawarden Rangers Junior Football Club, which now boasts a membership of some 260 playing members aged between 6 & 16.

In the late 70s the club had two players who were to later captain their country at the club – Ian Rush and Barry Horne were part of another successful Rangers side. Other famous players that started with Hawarden were Gary Speed of Bolton Wanderers, Andrew Joseph Dorman of the New England Revolution in the US MLS and Michael Owen of Newcastle United and England who incidentally holds the club record for goals scored in one season at 11 a-side. He achieved this record in the Under 12s when he scored 96 goals in 24 games.

IMG_4557

Hawarden Rangers play their home games on the famous Gladstone Playing Fields.  The history of the playing fields will be reviewed in a future article.

For more information about Hawarden Rangers Football Club, visit their official website at: http://www.hawardenrangersfc.co.uk/

Dave Tomlinson, chairman of the Vodkat North West Counties League, has hit out at the manner in which the League has been treated by the FA over the acceptance of Chester FC into the National League System.

In Tomlinson’s opinion, both the League Management Committee and member clubs can feel insulted by the chain of events which led to the FA Appeal Board’s decision to instruct that Chester FC be placed at Step 4 of the Pyramid.

Tomlinson called for the FA to look again at how applications from new and “re-formed” clubs are handled in future, and gave a detailed insight into the sequence of events that unfolded, once it became known that the newly formed Chester FC were looking to join the National League System.

Tomlinson explained: “The league received notice from the Football Association that the Leagues Committee had recommended that Chester FC be placed at Step 5 within the National League System (The Vodkat League Premier Division).

“The league requested clarification as to whether this “recommendation” was a recommendation or an instruction. If it was a recommendation, the Management Committee’s opinion was that the Member Clubs would be allowed to decide whether to accept the recommendation at the League’s AGM. This was confirmed by the Appeals Board.

“If it was an instruction, the Member Clubs would have to accept that decision. No response to the request for clarification was received from The Football Association.

“The League also requested permission from the Football Association to increase the Premier Division to twenty-three clubs for one season and to relegate three clubs at the end of that season. Once again clarification was requested as to whether this was required, if it was a recommendation or instruction. Again no response was received from the Football Association.

“Chester FC were then asked to attend a meeting with representatives of the Management Committee on Wednesday 8th June to discuss the FA recommendation, to ascertain the club’s position, and for us to state the League’s position.

“League representatives at the meeting pointed out to Chester FC’s officials that certain derisory comments and articles had appeared in the media about our league. We were assured that these comments were not the view of the Chester Board, who just wanted to be playing football at the highest level possible.

“Chester FC paid the League application fee by cheque, and confirmed that they would be affiliating to the Cheshire County FA.

“At the end of the meeting the League Management Committee believed Chester FC had accepted, and were pleased, that they would be in The Vodkat League for season 2010/11.”

A week later on Tuesday 15th June, Chester FC requested that the League submitted a request to the FA Appeal Board regarding confirmation of the number of clubs in the Premier Division. This request was made and activated on the same date.

An email was received from the Football Association informing that the information would be made available to the Appeal Board Chairman and that a decision in relation to Chester FC had in fact been made on Monday 14th June but would not be released until Friday 18th June.

This Appeal Board decision was not released until Friday morning 18th June at approx. 11am, and Tomlinson says the decision was greeted with some disbelief by the League Management Committee.

Tomlinson explained: “The FA Appeal Board made a number of statements including that Chester FC’s appeal was upheld, Chester FC would be placed at Step 4 in the Northern Premier League Division One North and the appeal fee would be returned to the Club. Also the board acknowledged that as the National Leagues Committee had recommended to the NWCFL (The Vodkat League) that Chester be placed in that League, the League would be within its rights to accept or reject the recommendation and could place Chester FC at Step 6.

“The general feeling amongst the Management Committee is that Chester FC blatantly misled the Management Committee by stating that they had not appealed against the recommendation to place the Club at Step 5. Also I feel that the delay in issuing the decision of the Appeal Board was misjudged by The Football Association, as both the Management Committee and Member Clubs were left in the dark and left little time to organise a response to Member Clubs at the Annual General Meeting which was just one day later on Saturday 19th June.

“As Chairman of the Vodkat League, I have no objection as to the step in the Pyramid in which Chester FC were placed, but the process that was followed and the way in which that decision was reached begs several questions, which need to be answered for future reference and avoidance of doubt.

“As far as we are concerned, which was also confirmed by the Chester FC representatives who were interviewed by members of our League Management Committee, Chester FC had not appealed to the FA about the decision to place them at Step 5. They had only requested clarification of how the decision to recommend them a place at Step 5 was made.

“They were quite categorical in stating that they had not appealed, and that it was the FA who had interpreted their request as an appeal. We as a League asked Chester FC on more than one occasion if they had appealed, and on each occasion we were told they hadn’t.

“However, if the FA as stated have “returned the appeal fee” to Chester FC, it would appear that an appeal was made and the only conclusion to be drawn is that we as a League have been misled by Chester FC.”

Looking at the wider implications of this decision, Tomlinson believes that one of the main points that need clarifying is how clubs such as Chester FC are viewed and treated in future.
He said: “What is the difference between a re-formed club and a new club? Is a re-formed club one that takes over all aspects of the previous club including any debt ? If so, Chester FC should have been relegated two divisions below their previous position. If they are a new club, they should have started at the bottom of the National League System.

“Chester City failed to complete their fixtures in their league. They were kicked out of the Conference (Step 1) and their record expunged. They were wound up in court. Indeed this particular course of action was one for which the body which set up the new club was calling for, as they would be able to set up a new club without any debts.

“Chester City would have been starting the coming season in the Conference North. The decision of the Appeal Board places Chester FC two divisions lower than this level, into the Northern Premier League Division One North. In other words Chester FC are picking up from where the old Chester City left off, and are not being treated as a new club.

“There is an FA regulation that states a club can be placed at a level of football appropriate to their playing ability. But how can Chester FC be placed at a level of competitive football appropriate to their playing ability when they have never played a match? I have looked for possible reasons and can’t find any.

“Geographical location should not have been a bearing on the decision as the Vodkat League cover much the same area as the Northern Premier League First Division North.

“Stadium facilities in our league have been previously proven. Vodkat League Clubs can cope with large attendances – our clubs hosted FC United of Manchester games for two seasons, and a good number of our grounds are now capable of holding crowds of several thousand spectators. So it can’t be a decision based on doubts about our ability to host Chester FC games.

“And as far as the size of the club is concerned, Chester FC’s economic means are unproven and only projected in their business plan.

“Most importantly, I believe this decision sends out the wrong message to clubs who spend beyond their means. i.e., `Go for it boys. If you go bust, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to change the club name and drop two divisions`.

“If the FA consider that this is an acceptable course of action for a club to take, and continue to condone this behaviour by welcoming back various “phoenix” clubs at arbitrary levels of the Pyramid, then I fear for the future of the grassroots game in this country.”

Chester’s newly elected Conservative MP, Stephen Mosley was quick to talk up the City Fans United.  Remarking in his maiden speech at the House of Commons, Mosley said:

“May I be the first to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield North (Nick de Bois) on his entertaining and interesting speech? May I also thank everyone else who has made a maiden speech today? I have learned a lot and I hope that hon. Members will learn a bit from me too.

In the few weeks that I have been here, I have been absolutely amazed that almost every Member I have spoken to, on hearing that I represent the City of Chester, has delighted in telling me of their happy trips to my city. Whether they have been to Chester races, studied at the law college or been there for a romantic weekend away, they have all, without exception, left with a wonderful memory of their visit.

I am proud to say that Chester has always welcomed visitors. Our first recorded visitors were the Romans, who established the legionary fortress on the lower reaches of the River Dee, built the city walls, laid out the road network and enjoyed themselves at the amphitheatre so much that they stayed for almost 400 years. In AD 973, King Edgar came to Chester and established himself as the King of all England when he got the kings of the other northern kingdoms to row him up the river and he started to lay the foundations of what is now the United Kingdom. That marked the start of the long relationship between the city and the Crown that Chester has enjoyed for more than 1,000 years.

The Normans came to our city, built a castle and our magnificent cathedral and then used the city as the base for their conquest of north Wales. The English did not get it all their own way, however: several times the Welsh raided the city, destroyed the bridges across the river and burned down many buildings outside the walls. It is from that period that our famous statute
27 May 2010 : Column 397
came into force, which forbids Welshmen from entering the city walls after dark and allows those who are in the city at night to be legally shot with a crossbow. Apparently, that statute was never repealed. Fortunately, we live in happier times and, except for the one day of the year when Chester play Wrexham at football, we live in friendship with our Welsh neighbours.

Speaking of football, I must congratulate my predecessor, Christine Russell. When Chester City football club went into administration earlier this year, she was at the forefront of the campaign to bring football back to Chester. I am proud to say that at the start of this month the supporters group City Fans United established a new Chester football club, and we can now look forward to football returning to the Deva stadium in the autumn. Much of that is due to the hard work that was put in behind the scenes by the previous Member for the City of Chester.

Christine also championed international development and improved child care, but she will be most remembered in Chester for her conscientious casework in the city and the help that she gave to so many local people. I have known her for more than 10 years, and although we had many disagreements over politics, I salute the good work that she did locally and I know it is not going to be easy to follow in her footsteps. I have also been delighted by the good will that still exists on both sides of the Chamber towards Christine’s predecessor Gyles Brandreth and his predecessor Sir Peter Morrison, and I hope to be a worthy successor to them all.

Chester is the jewel in crown of the north-west of England, but there is still much that we need to do. Our Gateway theatre closed down in 2007 and we need help to ensure that our dream of having a new theatre and performing arts centre in the city is delivered. I was particularly pleased to hear that the new Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport had promised that lottery funding would be restored to the arts, thus providing many opportunities for towns and cities such as Chester to improve their arts facilities.

We are also lucky to have in the City of Chester Chester zoo, which is one of the leading visitor attractions in the country and a world leader in animal conservation. It has big plans to expand to help to conserve more endangered species, and I look forward to championing it and its good work within Parliament.

Our ancient city walls, our amphitheatre and the mediaeval rows have all been neglected in the past and now need us to protect and champion our heritage. That is why I will be supporting a bid, put in by the local Conservative council, to obtain world heritage site status for the city centre.

In Chester, we have huge ambitions to bring investment into the city, and I will be playing my part, from Parliament, to help my constituents to achieve their dreams.”

  derek draper v newcastle united 1  

Derek Draper became the fourth former Chester footballer to be honoured by City Fans United at their meeting last night. 

One of Derek Draper’s jobs during his early days on the Swansea groundstaff was to clean the boots of Ivor Allchurch. And watching the magical style of play from one of the greatest post-war footballers in training, or on the playing field, rubbed off on Draper, as he eventually raduated to the Swans first team after impressive performances for the Reserves and being capped by Wales at Youth Level.

His first team debut was against Newcastle United at the Vetch Field on March 16th 1963, scoring the only goal of the game, and by the end of the season, he had made a further three league appearances against Norwich City, Rotherham United and Southampton.

Before he was twenty years of age, Derek had been nicknamed ‘Didi’ by the club’s supporters, as they warmed to his attacking and adverturous style of play from the inside forward position. Twelve months later, in what was his first full season in league football, Derek was involved in the Swans’ march to the FA Cup semi finals, beating Barrow, Sheffield United, Stoke City and Liverpool to get there, before losting to Preston North End, 2-1 at a rain sodden Villa Park.

The 1963-64 season saw him make 32 league appearances, scoring three goals, with a further two goals coming in the 4-0 replay win over Sheffield United at the Vetch Field in the FA Cup.

His growing maturity in the Swans Second Division side was recoginised during the 1964-65 season, when he was selected to play for the Welsh Under 23 side against England, despite playing in a Swans;s side destined for relegation to the Third Division for the first time.

With Ivor Allchirch returning to the Vetch Field at the start of the following season, Derek’s opportunity of playing with the man whose boots he had cleaned during his groundstaff days vanished early in the season when he was sidelined with injury, after he made just three League appearances.

On regaining his fitness, Derek was unable to force his way into a free-scoring Swans side, and prior to transfer deadline day in April 1966, was offered the chance to join Second Division Derby County for a £5,000 fee.

After just twelve months at the Baseball Ground, Derek was transferred a Fourth Division Bradford Park Avenue after making just eight league appearances, scoring one goal.

Despite being a regular in the Bradford side, Derek joined Chester in January 1969 after making 63 league appearances for Bradford, scoring nine goals. Eighteen months later, Park Avenue failed to gain re-election to the Fourth Division.

In eight and a half seasons at Chester, up until his retirement from football in 1978, Derek make a total of 331 League appearances for the club, scoring 55 goals. He was 77 league appearances short of the Club’s record appearance total, held by Ray Gill with 408.

A highly respected player in lower division football, his memories from a long stay with Chester at Sealand Road, as it was then, include a promotion winning season in 1974-75 and reaching the League Cup semi finals in the same season, losing to Aston Villa 5-4 on aggregate over two legs.