Ready to Go!
So, after all of the challenges of setting up Chester FC, we are now at the dawn of the first competitive match for the reformed club, and tonight at Warrington is the reward for everyone involved in the setting up of and supporting of Chester Football Club.
It will be the proudest moment of my footballing life when the lads run out at Warrington Town tonight, and I'm sure the rest of the board of CFC will feel exactly the same way as I do at Cantilever Park tonight, with only the run out at the Deva Stadium likely to surpass it next Monday!
I don't think any of the board quite expected the challenges that came with the reformation of the club, we certainly expected it to be a difficult process, and we definitely did not under estimate the challenge of it all, but I think it's fair to say that some of the hurdles we have had to go through have been bigger than any of those Colin Jackson would ever had of had to jump over!
Just over a year ago, I attended the meeting of all the supporter groups at the Divas Show Bar, when the meeting hosted by broadcaster Charlie Lambert told of how the way forward was for one supporters group to be formed, and the promise of that was delivered just two months later at a packed venue again when City Fans United was launched.
The way forward was now clearer than ever, but things still had to happen quickly, and I was fortunate enough to be elected to the committee of CFU just prior to Christmas, and leading up to that was of course the Legends Night, which saw over twenty of Chester's greatest players coming together to enjoy a night with the fans, which was an evening I'll never forget.
By this time we had already met with the local council, knowing that it was unlikely Chester City FC would last the season, something that we were all absolutely gutted about, but there was absolutely no way it could be saved considering the level of debt that existed at the club, some questioned the intentions of CFU at this point, but believe me if there had been a way of saving CCFC it would have been put forward.
I think things were summed up when an offer was made to CFU to buy the club for a pound, but take on the debt - by text message. The level of debt was of course on it's way to ÃÂ£1m, and this for a club heading into the sixth tier of the football pyramid, I think we all knew then that the point had arrived to seriously think about the reformation of the club.
We all know what happened next, with the Conference expelling the club, and the High Court slamming the lid shut on CCFC, but the overriding factor here was that if the club had been allowed to continue past March, we would not be eagerly awaiting CFC's first match tomorrow at Warrington, instead, we'd all have no club to support and instead have to find other things to do on Saturday's and midweek, or even worse find another club to follow - unthinkable.
So, the plans for reformation went ahead, and two jam packed meetings at the Guild Hall provided us with first hope, then confirmation, that the fans were well and truly behind what we were trying to do. The image of Chester fans singing "Chester are Back" at the Guild Hall when the new club crest was revealed made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, and it's a memory that will never ever leave me.
At one of those meetings, I read out a text message that I'd received from Elfed Morris, "Out of the ashes will rise a new giant and will be feared by all. Once again the love of the people will make Chester a great football club with the players who are proud to wear the shirt just like I was. Go for it, keep the dream alive!" - that message is still on my mobile phone, as the words mean so much to me, in fact reading the Chronicle's superb supplement the other day had me welling up when I was reading the messages of support from former players, and also the likes of Jonathan Legard and Martin Tyler in the media.
I've never known anything like setting up a club from scratch before, but believe me I do now, and how difficult and time consuming the whole thing is, and I think many of the unsung heroes are indeed the wives or partners who have had to put up with so much in the last few months, and many of us have gone through personal moments that a lot of people go through in their lifetime, and yet their support has remained incredible, and that is something I'll always be thankful for.
We've had some great times as fans in the last few months, securing the lease on the Deva Stadium despite some unwanted interest from a rival Danish bid, appointing Neil Young as Manager, seeing the squad of players being built, and then witnessing the standard of football in the pre season games, with the fantastic moment when the players stepped out at Colwyn Bay for their first ever game.
That now seems a distant memory, and hopefully when they run out at Warrington the result will be different this time, but whatever happens tomorrow night, we will well and truly have started life as Chester FC on the pitch, and let's hope that Neil and the lads can guide us up the Leagues to get back to where we were - remember that we are only two leagues below where the old club would have started if things had continued last season.
It's been a mammoth effort to get to where we are now, and I'd just like to thank the board members, it has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside each and every one of them - all fans of CFC who would do, and have done, everything possible to get us where we are today, and it is an absolute privilege to be on the board with these first class individuals.
Finally to everyone that has backed, and I'm sure will continue to back Chester Football Club, THANK YOU for your help and support, everyone has played their part in reforming OUR club over the last 12 months, and now everyone can witness the reward, seeing those Blue & White shirts on the pitch again.