October 2008 Archives
Sorry, but the Exiles failed to get revenge on Gillingham for last Saturday's 2-0 home victory at the Priestfield Stadium.
The venue for the latest Gills v Chester clash was the oche of the City Retreat pub in the City of London and it was our opening Exiles darts game of the season. Gillingham were the obvious favourites, after being relegated from Division Two last season and having chalked up a 10-1 result in their first match of the 2008-9 campaign.
The Exiles darters went on to mirror the performance of the City team at Priestfield, with a scoreline that belied their workrate. The result of the match was 9-2 - but it was a score that flattered the Gills.
Actually, although we did our best to concentrate on our arrows, some of us were paying way too much attention to our mobile phones as our darts tie coincided with the Chester v Brentford match.
So the night was not without some cheer for the Exiles - especially as we heard Gillingham were losing 2-0 to Lincoln by the time we were celebrating Ryan Lowe's first goal.
I don't know if it was this news that gave the Gills darts players the inspiration they needed to secure their win. But by the time we heard Chester were 3-0 up and (hallelujah!) Wrexham were out of the FA Cup, our darts game was already lost.
As we looked out on the snow that was sticking on the central London streets for the first October day in 74 years we started planning our Exiles outing to Exeter on Saturday. It's funny how one result can suddenly make people feel like embarking on 400-mile round trips. Count me in!
AN APOLOGY: A few weeks ago I was under the impression that Chester City had become a relatively harmonious club, such that I cheekily tempted fate by saying:
"What happened to the bust-ups, the heavy defeats, the dire football and the bitter, resentful divisions among fans? I was just getting used to those, and suddenly the storm clouds have disappeared and - good heavens - the club seems settled."
In light of recent events, I now realise you should never, EVER tempt fate with such statements, least of all with a club such as Chester, when you never quite know where the next corkscrew in the rollercoaster ride is going to come from.
The only real surprise should be how quickly Chester's season has gone from disaster, to relative success, back to disaster within the space of a dozen games. I can barely keep up with Chester's form guide, it being so unpredictable, but therein lies one of the reasons why I support this club- it fascinates me, even during weeks where everything falls apart like this one!
AFTER a relatively quiet couple of weeks around the Deva Stadium, the news that the Chief, Wayne Allison, has decided to leap out of the dugout and return to a playing career for Chester has come as something of a surprise.
Not only that, but former Bradford City player Eddie Johnson has also helped bolster the City squad numbers with his long-overdue signing. Chester's squad numbers are suddenly looking a little healthier, with boss Simon Davies potentially even having a selection headache for the first time this season.
The Chief's arrival at Chester as assistant boss has undoubtedly helped City's fortunes, stopping the rot of defeats and, while piddling technicalities such as clean sheets and a number of comfortable wins remain elusive, the performances have improved to allow a steady points-scoring run and move the team steadily clear of the relegation zone.
But the veteran, who turned 40 this week, making his comeback as a player? He's now entering his 22nd season as a player, having made his professional debut for Halifax Town back in 1987. At least, that's what Wikipedia tells me.
That adds up to a lot of experience, which should help the younger players in the squad, who'll be keen to see if the Chief can practise what he preaches on the pitch. The fact he's also on the books as a coach means he won't be adding too much to Chester's perennial wage cap concerns.
Eddie Johnson's signing can only be seen as good news- he's a local lad, and guaranteed to have some family support when he strides out with the City badge on his shirt.
One player in particular who looks like he could do with some football guidance is out-of-favour Paul Taylor, after his calls of "Can't come into work boss, I feel sick" have made Simon Davies' blood boil. Now on his final warning, the 21-year-old ex-Vauxhall striker needs to prove himself worthy of clinching that January permanent transfer for City.
With two additions to the squad, it'll be an interesting call for Davies when he names his starting XI. Both newcomers will have their work cut out to be match-fit for the upcoming matches against Port Vale and Rochdale on Sunday and Tuesday.
"I never felt more like singing the Blues, when Chester win, and Wrexham lose" was always one of my favourite terrace chants and occasionally I make a point of cheering on the team playing our cross-border rivals.
It's not that I'm an obsessive anti-Wrexham fan, but as I'm usually nearly three hours away from Chester, I keep an eye-out for Wrexham fixtures on my doorstep when City games are a journey too far.
Last Saturday was one of those days, when I went to the New Lawn to give my support to Forest Green Rovers against Wrexham, while listening out for bleeps from my phone to indicate a goal at the Deva Stadium.
I was actually at the last meeting between Forest Green and Wrexham - back in 1991 when they were many leagues apart and they met each other in the Welsh Cup. With Wrexham then featuring the like of Chris Armstrong and easily beating their Southern League opponents (then called Stroud FC), I'd never have believed that the two teams would meet each other at the same level nearly 20 years later.
This time, FGR deserved a draw and despite being ahead twice in the game, somehow succumbed to a last minute Wrexham winner. While the BSP teams battled it out in the driving rain, my bleeping phone was not bringing me pleasant news.
Somehow a Chester side that remained unbeaten in September and put in a storming performance at Luton, were overwhelmed 2-0 by Lincoln City. So it was not a good day all round to be a Chester fan and I rather had my nose rubbed in it when I had to put up with watching jubilant Wrexham fans mark an away win.
My next Chester match is set to be a trip to Gillingham, when perhaps I will be able to celebrate a win away from home. It's something I've not witnessed since Macclesfield Town, more than a year ago, so surely it's my turn now?
STRANGE things have been happening around the Deva Stadium recently. Chester City went unbeaten in September, there have been discussions taking place regarding a stadium revamp, ticket prices for under 16s have halved in price and there's a general positive vibe emanating from the club.
It's unnatural. It's quite terrifying. It's just not the City I know.
What happened to the bust-ups, the heavy defeats, the dire football and the bitter, resentful divisions among fans? I was just getting used to those, and suddenly the storm clouds have disappeared and - good heavens - the club seems settled.
Now, whether this is just the eye of the storm and the latest unexpected bombshell in Chester's turbulent recent history is actually just around the corner is another matter. It could also be that the club is looking a haven of tranquillity compared to the spiral of perpetual doom that appears to be managerless Wrexham right now.
In all seriousness, though, Chester have sensibly managed to put all of August's ordeals behind them, and consigned such ugly matters as a misunderstanding with the PFA and that piddling opening day 6-0 loss to the history books. A welcome U-turn over the under-16s ticket prices for the Harry McNally Terrace has shown the club was relatively quick to recognise this aspect of their ticket policy, on this occasion, was probably not the correct course of action.
And plans for the stadium development haven't just been bandied about in the press as fairytale stories, but rather followed through with preliminary discussions with the council.
So let's hope this bout of good times stays this way for the rest of the season, starting with the match against Lincoln City. Here's hoping a first clean sheet of the season will help add to that.