Dec 29 2010 by David Triggs, Chester Chronicle
After a troubled start to the year, the second half of 2010 saw Chester FC back in business and enjoying happier times, banging in the goals and playing in front of big home crowds. In part two of his review of the year, DAVID TRIGGS looks back on a memorable six months for the reborn Blues – in the words of those who made the headlines.
“It is amazing how far we have come in the space of four months. From total oblivion to where we are today.”
– on the eve of Chester FC’s comeback match at Colwyn Bay, club chairman Chris Pilsbury reflected on the rebirth of a proud football club.
“These people should be ashamed of themselves and those found guilty will receive the appropriate ban.”
– an official statement from Chester FC condemned the mindless minority of drunken ‘fans’ who tried to spoil the club’s comeback game, clashing with police and security at Llanelian Road.
“I could see the passion and energy of the supporters. They were really enjoying it again.”
– former Blues midfielder Roberto Martinez was impressed with what he saw on his return to Chester – as manager of a young Wigan Athletic side beaten 4-0 in a friendly.
“They have previously flown over places such as Buckingham Palace, Niagara Falls and the Taj Mahal – and now you can add the Deva Stadium to that high-quality list!”
– a tongue-in-cheek comment from Chester FC board member Jeff Banks, who arranged for the Red Arrows to fly over the Exacta Stadium before a friendly match against Marine.
“I wish Chester and their supporters good luck and hope they start climbing the divisions again.”
– Chester FC were given an official seal of approval from England World Cup-winner Roger Hunt, who joined 1966 team-mate Gordon Banks at a charity golf day in aid of the reborn club.
“The supporters can be a 12th man for us. Expectation is high but we’ve just got to concentrate on what we need to do to win the game.”
– manager Neil Young called for focus as Chester looked forward to their first Evo-Stik League match, at Warrington Town. The Blues failed to build on Rob Hopley’s early strike and were held to a 1-1 draw.
“Chester is now our second team, and here’s to the future.”
– Match of the Day 2 host Colin Murray added a touch of glamour to Chester FC’s first home game as a reformed club against Trafford. The Radio Five Live presenter joined Pat Nevin and Perry Groves on the pitch at the half-time interval. The Blues rose to the occasion and sent Murray and co home happy, winning 6-0 in front of a 2,734 crowd.
“With most clubs, the fans are important, but they are vital at Chester. I’m the first full-time employee so I’ve got a lot of people to answer to.”
– recently-appointed general manager Pat Cluskey, brought in to ease the burden on chief executive Steve Ashton, quickly bought into the ethos of running a fan-owned club.
“We haven’t got the divine right to go out and beat teams.”
– Blues boss Young had words of warning for his players after points were dropped in a 1-1 home draw with Prescot Cables.
“I must say it’s a very nice surprise and an absolute honour.”
– stalwart superfan Barrie Hipkiss – ‘Mr Chester FC’ – was almost lost for words when he was made life president of the reborn club.
“He’ll be a match-winner. He is definitely one for the future.”
– Crewe Alex manager Dario Gradi was proved right when he told Chester fans that midfielder Antoni Sarcevic’s loan stay with the Blues would be a success. The teenager’s form was so impressive that he was recalled to Gresty Road after an all-too-brief stay.
“I’m back into Chester again. What the members of City Fans United have achieved in such a short space of time is incredible.”
– Chester legend Gary Talbot was quick to praise City Fans United as the supporters’ group celebrated its first anniversary.
“If we get it right here, we’ll win the league.”
– there was title talk from boss Young as Chester hit a rich vein of form, storming to the top of the First Division North table.
“There are older blokes in work telling me that it hasn’t felt this positive at the club since they were kids.”
– midfield man Mark Connolly picked up on the feelgood vibes surrounding the city as the Blues marched on.
“They’ve been asking me if they’re the Chester weightlifting squad!”
– a cold snap brought Chester’s season to a temporary halt, forcing Young to take his players indoors for some gym sessions. After a couple of weeks, they were fed up of lifting weights and desperate for a return to action.
“It’s nice to have interest from other clubs as it shows that you’re doing well, but I love it at Chester and have no desire to leave.”
– music to the ears of all Blues fans as 19-goal top-scorer Michael Wilde publicly pledged his future to the club.