Posts Tagged ‘Wrexham’

When Paul Comstive joined the Clarets from Wrexham in the summer of 1987, in the aftermath of the Orient game, he had already notched around 150 league appearances for his four clubs.

He’d started his career as a youngster with Blackburn Rovers and made his league debut for them in a game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in October 1980. It wasn’t the start of a fruitful first team career at Ewood Park though and he went on to make just two more appearances for them before signing for Rochdale on loan in 1982.

At Spotland he scored his first goals but returned to Blackburn after playing nine games for them. That was in September 1982, but in the following summer he made the move to Wigan Athletic where, for just over a year, he was a regular in the side.

That was at left back and it was in that position he played against Burnley for the first time, during the John Bond season at Turf Moor he was at left back in the side we beat 3-0 at Turf Moor with goals from Brian Flynn, Tommy Hutchison and Kevin Reeves.

In November 1984 Wrexham paid £3,000 for him and he spent three years there before making the move to Turf Moor alongside the Wrexham goalkeeper Chris Pearce. Both were out of contract at Wrexham and both were subject to tribunal fees. Burnley had to pay £8,000 for his services.

He soon settled into a midfield role at Burnley, alongside another new signing in Andy Farrell. Burnley had a much better season, holding the top position for a period, and although league wise it ended in disappointment there was the Sherpa Van Trophy Final to look forward to at Wembley.

Comstive had proved to be a big success. Offering height, and no little skill, in the midfield his style was likened to that of Glenn Hoddle by some and he certainly offered goals from that position. He scored eight times in the league and added four more in cup competitions including the clincher against Preston at Deepdale as we reached Wembley.

No one came closer than Comstive to scoring in that Wembley final either; he twice hit the woodwork as we lost 2-0 to a Wolves side who had won the Fourth Division.

The next season was one of change at Turf Moor with Frank Casper replacing Brian Miller as manager and that was thought to be a factor in it being Comstive’s last season as a Burnley player.

Again he reached double figures in goals, beating his previous season total by one, and for much of the season was a regular. He didn’t miss a single game in the first half of the season with Miller in charge but under Casper his position wasn’t quite so secure.

He was still at Burnley at the start of the following season but by now he was no longer involved with the first team and so in September 1989, after two years, he left to sign for Bolton Wanderers who were a division higher than us.

We’d certainly done more than alright from Comstive. We paid £8,000 for him, got two good years from him, and sold him to Bolton for £37,000. After just over two years at Burnden Park he signed for Chester City and spent a further two years there before ending his playing career in the league at the end of the 1992/93 season.

He was in the Chester side for both games against Burnley in that final season, scoring in their 3-0 win against us in what was the first ever league game played at the Deva Stadium.

Comstive played non-league football for a further four years for Southport, Morecambe and Chorley before hanging up his boots at the age of 35.

Away from the playing side he was reserve team coach at Burscough for a while and is now first team coach with Fleetwood Hesketh who are based in his home town of Southport. They play in the West Lancashire League.

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The Chester City Exiles are planning to help City Fans United with a fund-raising bucket collection on Tuesday night at Kingsmeadow, when AFC Wimbledon take on Wrexham in the Blue Square Premier League. A statement released by the Chester City Exiles read: Exiled Chester fans will be staging a fund-raising bucket collection, to help build a new club in their home city, at the AFC Wimbledon v Wrexham match on Tuesday March 30. Funds will be donated to the City Fans United group, which is aiming to have a ‘phoenix’ club playing football in Chester by the start of next season. This follows the expulsion of Chester City FC from the Football Conference and the club’s subsequent winding-up in the High Court. City Fans United (CFU), a Supporters’ Trust body with more than 1,000 members, needs to build up its war-chest to allow football to be played in Chester again. Members of the Chester City Exiles, a fans’ club now in its 25th season, will be at Kingsmeadow with their buckets asking for donations on behalf of CFU. They hope for some friendly banter and generosity from local rivals Wrexham. Exiles chair, Pauline Meakins, said: “The support shown by other football clubs, particularly AFC Wimbledon for generously allowing us to stage this collection and the messages of support from many of the fans of our old enemy Wrexham, has meant so much to us over the past few terrible months. It has given us a lot of strength and a real hope for the future of football in Chester. We thank everyone very much.” City Fans United would like to thank the Chester City Exiles for their continued support, and the bucket collection further demonstrates the excellent relationship held between the two groups. It would also like to thank AFC Wimbledon & Wrexham FC for their support in this initiative to raise funds.

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Craig Brown has praised in-form keeper John Ruddy and says he wants the Everton loanee to stay at Fir Park beyond the summer. Ruddy is currently at Motherwell until the end of the current season but has impressed with his recent performances.

The 23-year old has only conceded one goal in seven SPL matches since Brown took over and his hot streak has coincided with Motherwell’s unbeaten run in the league. The manager said he had been looking at other options to replace Ruddy when his loan spell ends but hadn’t seen anyone who could match the 6’ 4” Englishman.

“We have looked at other keepers but they’re not as good as John,” Brown admitted.

“He enjoys playing for Motherwell, we have spoken to him and he loves it here.

“But he’s not our player, he is Everton’s. If we could keep him it would be great for the club.”

Ruddy joined the Lanarkshire club on loan at the beginning of the season along with fellow Everton youngster Lukas Jutkiewicz. Both players agreed to move north until January but following their success in the first half of the season the deals were extended until June.

The loan move has led to one of the most settled periods of Ruddy’s brief career so far. The goalkeeper made his breakthrough at Cambridge United in the 2004-05 season and although the club were relegated Everton snapped him up for £250,000. Though fourth-choice at Goodison Park, Ruddy is regarded by David Moyes as a potential future England cap, a prediction backed up by the player’s inclusion in the England Under-19 squad in 2005.

Being far down the pecking order at Everton made the goalkeeper a popular loan signing for clubs facing an injury crisis and he had played for eight different clubs by the age of 21. Short-term loan deals saw him move from Everton to Walsall, Rushden and Diamonds, Chester City, Stockport County, Wrexham, Bristol City and Crewe Alexandra.

Motherwell may have to dig deep to sign the player on a permanent basis. If Everton were prepared to let the player move to gain regular football, his performances in the SPL would undoubtedly mean a number of clubs would vie for his signature.

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Nine men and they still can’t beat us!  This was one of the most thrilling derbies of all time.  It remains to be seen if we will ever take part in another derby date with Wrexham ever again.

The Original match report…

Derek Mann for manager? Nearly 1,000 Chester fans will be nominating him and his team for the freedom of the city after a truly amazing derby clash on Tuesday. This game had everything golden goals, great saves penalty drama, sendings off and white-hot passion and at the end of it, who would dare write off battling Chester as relegation certainties?

One point was scant reward for a second half come back with only nine men following the dismissal of Chris Lightfoot and Eddie bishop but the performance will take pride of place in the annals of these cross border skirmishes.

Two men short and 2-1 down, this should have been a St.Valentines day massacre, instead Chester won the hearts of the fans by not only frustrating Wrexham but at times outplaying them It was a triumph for organisation character and physical fitness on a glue pot pitch, yet this was not just about the second half The game had an astonishing start with three goals and a penalty save in the first 18 minutes and the first half ended with Lightfoot getting the red card for a second bookable offence, quickly followed by Eddie bishop following and off the ball incident with Gary Bennett. The former city striker was never out of the action.

He had a header disallowed for pushing in the second minute and then had his penalty brilliantly saved by David Felgate a minute later after he had been brought down by David Flitcroft. He had another effort ruled out in the last minute of the game after suffering a barrage of abuse from the Chester fans who were incensed at what they considered to be an over the top reaction to the incident which resulted in Bishops dismissal. Chester responded well to the early Wrexham pressure by snatching a 13th minute lead. Milner was felled by Barry Jones and bishop converted the spot kick. Wrexham though were inspired and bounced back with two goals in three minutes.

Karl Connolly fired in the equaliser and then Bennett put them ahead with a glorious goal which he started himself with a cheeky back pass to Gareth Owen in midfield. Chester re-organised at half-time and sent out Chris priest at left back and Iain Jenkins at the centre of defence and both were outstanding in a stirring performance. Felgate, already a hero for his penalty save kept Chester in the game with a superb save from a Steve Watkins header, but was grateful to Julian Alsford for a goal-line clearance later.

Chester fans would have settled for a 2-1 defeat in the circumstances but hopes of something better grew as Wrexham failed to make their numerical advantage count. City counter attacked effectively and six minutes from the end were handsomely rewarded.

Iain Jenkins sent Milner away from the half way line and with a sight of goal appeared to have missed his opportunity by checking back with defenders hot on his heels. He needn`t have worried, for Milner wrong footed a defender, spotted Andy Marriot off his line and chipped the ball over his head and into the net.

The final whistle brought scenes of celebration reminiscent of promotion. A point will do little for their Division 2 survival hopes but the performance will live long in the memory.

Quotes from the main men

Gary Shelton was quick to pay tribute to the City supporters. He said: “The fans were fantastic. They were worth two players to us and I was pleased that were able to reward them . We showed a lot of character. We knew that if we stuck together we could get a result.”

City midfielder Chris Priest said: “The fans were brilliant and it irritated Wrexham. That’s what kept us going. There is a great team spirit at the club and this performance proved it. We knew we had to get behind the ball and rely on quick breaks and I must admit I could not have predicted the result.”

There was also generous praise from beaten Wrexham FC manager, Brian Flynn. “I must admire Chester. They were fighting for their lives and we weren’t. We didn’t make our advantage count.”

But nobody was more delighted than City’s caretaker manager Derek Mann. “I have never seen a performance like it with only nine men. It was magnificent. We knew we would be in for a pounding early on but Dave Felgate got us out of gaol with his penalty save.”

Mann continued: “The performance speaks volumes for the type of lads we have at the club. There have been a lot of downs at the club this season and this match has given everyone a big boost. I think this result worth more than three points to our supporters whop were magnificent. I hope they will carry on where they left off.”

The match programme…

My prized possession, an autographed souvenir from the day itself.  Oh what memories.

Fifteen years on, St Milner himself recalls…

Speaking to the Chester Chronicle earlier in the week, Chester City legend Andy Milner remembered the moment that sent City fans into wild ecstasy.

“I set off and there was no-one around so I thought I’d have a nice little run with the ball because it just might give the defence some breathing space,” said the 43-year-old, now a driving instructor living in Crewe. “I just kept on going and it opened up.

“I didn’t fancy taking it on with my left so I made a little step back and got it on my favoured right. Anyone who watched Chester regularly knew that my left foot wasn’t the best!”

“The bus journey back was lively,” he recalled. “We just knew what it meant to everyone. It was nice. Even though we were having a terrible season and it was obvious we were going to go down, it was a little bit of local pride. It was something for the fans, to be honest.”

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Chester City Football Club are like a cat with nine lives after today being handed yet another stay of execution by the footballing authorities when everyone thought they’d face an immediate expulsion from all Football Conference competitions.

The troubled Blues have been given a seven day suspension by the Football Conference and will be summonsed to answer charges of failing to fulfill last Tuesday’s match at Forest Green Rovers and explain why this Sunday’s scheduled home match against Wrexham had to be postponed at a special meeting next Thursday.

Chester City Football Club admitted it couldn’t raise a team for Tuesday’s league match at Forest Green and then latterly couldn’t foot a policing bill ahead of Sunday’s derby clash with Wrexham.

The club was subsequently issued with a prohibition notice on the Deva Stadium by trading standards officers, leaving City unable to play Sunday’s cross-border derby match.

Now, a third clash against Kidderminster Harriers next wednesday has also been called off.

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Wrexham fans won’t boycott this month’s Deva Stadium derby against rivals Chester City, according to the Supporters’ Trust.

Supporters’ group City Fans United are boycotting all Chester’s home games for the rest of the season, and are asking visiting teams’ fans to do the same.

The move is in protest against the club’s owner Stephen Vaughan Jr and the current regime.

City Fans United were also last night discussing going through a process of due diligence with a view to possibly launching a takeover of the club.

Chester’s players haven’t been paid for nearly three months, while the club faces a High Court date in march to avoid a winding-up petition.

With players leaving to join other clubs, Chester have been forced to play a number of youngsters.

They are still 20 points adrift at the bottom of the Blue Square Premier table after beginning the season with a 25-point deduction following the club going into administration last summer.

Haydn Jones of Wrexham Supporters’ Trust (WST) says Dragons fans have sympathy with the plight of their rivals.

However, he says the Trust won’t advocate boycotting the February 14 Blue Square Premier clash, and expects fans to attend the match as Dean Saunders’ side try to turn around their own ailing campaign.

Jones said: “We will be boycotting all Chester games – except the ones where Chester play Wrexham.

“We have huge sympathy with what’s going on at Chester and we hope they come out of it so we can keep our fixtures going some time in the future.

“It’s a match to look forward to, and I’m guessing people will still want to watch the match against their local rivals.”

With Chester so far behind at the bottom of the table, Jones says Wrexham fans will also be making the most of what could be their last chance to attend the cross-border derby.

He said: “Looking at the Blue Square Premier league table, it could be the last time we play them for some time.”

Jones acknowledges, however, that many Chester fans were supportive when Wrexham had off-field problems, including going into administration in 2004.

“When we had our troubles some Chester supporters were very supportive of us and we wish them all the best,” he said.

Some Wrexham fans have been sympathetic towards the idea of boycotting the derby, however, according to Jeff Banks of City Fans United.

Banks said: “We’d like support from all kinds of fans, not just Wrexham.

“Chester v Wrexham is a huge derby game, but this season it doesn’t feel like a derby because it doesn’t feel like a proper Chester team.”

He added: “Chester fans supported Wrexham when they had their problems, and we’ve had goodwill messages from Wrexham fans.

“Nothing would please us more than to see Wrexham fans boycott the game – Wrexham fans may want to put their own team first and we can understand that, but it would be nice to see them show solidarity with us.”

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Reports in the local press today suggest Chester City’s players are to be paid their outstanding wages shortly.  The Liverpool Daily Post reports the following quotes from Morell Maison:

“The players were paid a week’s wages last week. There are moves afoot to pay a months wages this week, and another months wages the following week, which would bring them up to date.

“The plans are there. The ball started to roll last week, and hopefully the club can keep it continuing this week.

“Money came in last week, and there is some stuff we are doing this week coming to fruition, and that should lead us nicely into next week. So there are moves afoot.”

It might just be a conincidence, but the Blues have also announced the sale of tickets for Chester City’s Blue Square Premier Derby clash with borderline rivals, Wrexham.  Could it be that the new “investments” coming into the club is actually the pre-match ticket sales expected from a bumper welsh following to this game?

Therefore, with Chester City supporters boycotting the blues, there’s a good chance Wrexham fans are actually financially keeping the Blues going by pumping their hard earned cash into the Deva Stadium club.  Hmm.  Thanks to all Wrexham fans for your continued support of the Blues!

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