Sunday, 18 February 2018

The All Stars Match - How it came about...

After that meeting of City Fans United members on that infamous Thursday night, I decided that I'd have to do something to help. It turns out that I'd return to the board to try and do something, just days later.

But before that, I asked myself what could I do to help to bring funds in. Various ideas went through my head and then I decided to call our Chester FC friend, Colin Murray, to see what we could come up to try and pull something out of the bag to raise money.

We had a chat on the Sunday morning whilst Sunday Brunch played on in the background, and whilst typically Alfie and Harry were at their loudest and I struggled to really hear myself think let alone what Colin was saying.

Anyway, we had a good chat, bounced some ideas between us, and then decided to catch up 24 hours later when Colin then informed me we were going to go for the All-stars game at the Deva. So then, the task began to get the game on in just 17 days!!

He told me Michael Owen was keen to help and would be playing, along with a number of ex pro's, amongst them was Chris Iwelumo. I did actually wonder if he would turn up for it given last season!!

Then it was about who they would face, so I thought the perfect team in opposition would be one managed by Neil Young, given what he achieved as our manager in the early years, and of course the first team would be in action just 2 days later so wouldn't have dreamed of asking Marcus Bignot to have this to deal with at the same time!.

What it did do of course was to allow fans the chance to say a final thanks to those players that excited us in our early years as I was sure Youngy would bring many of them.

What I did not realise was everything else needed to get the game on in such a short space of time. I have major big thanks to offer to Steve Povey, who spoke quickly to the police and council, to get us a green light to stage the game at the Deva.

Then next once that was sorted, was printing of tickets and before that of course is the designing of the tickets, and for that I've had tremendous help from Martin Huxley. I'm sure you know Martin well, he designed the club badge back in 2010, and how we all loved that badge when we saw it.

The printing of tickets was something I had no idea of how long the process would take but we really wanted to be able to sell them and so we made a decision to get them online to buy.

We didn't really have a clue how things would go, but we saw a steady start with about 50 tickets per day being sold to start with, then when we had them delivered to the club it changed to about 100 per day.

Colin always called each day to see how many had been sold, One day he thought he'd give my phone a break at ringing the club instead but guess what..I was at the club when he rang!!

We spent about a week trying to confirm more and more players, and most were coming back with a Yes, well the ex Chester lads were. I know Colin had asked the likes of Robbie Savage and Jimmy Bullard amongst many others but were unavailable for one reason or another.

Then, it was a case of arranging radio interviews as the big day got closer, and many late night conversations with Colin to see where we were up to and what we could do to take things to the next level.

Another major thing to take place in amongst all this was a call from Chester Racecourse who wanted to be involved in the game which was just fantastic. MBNA also wanted to get involved too, and the best thing was they wanted to work with each other as well as Chester FC, so it was good news all round.

So, thoughts turned to kits and how we could arrange something, and both Chester Racecourse and MBNA wanted to help on this, and a few days later we had kits for both sides. Big thanks to Jim Green of the Chester FC Community Trust for helping manage that side of things whilst I was stuck in work!

Every day leading up to the match I'd be on the phone to Jackie Olorenshaw at Chester FC who was looking after hospitality and I was delighted when 3 sponsors came forward to get involved too. Just brilliant. Things were falling into place.

Next up, officials for the match and big thanks to Calvin Hughes for his help with this.

I did receive a blow however that Neil Young wouldn't be able to make it for the full game due to the situation at Halifax and so we needed a plan b. I needn't have worried...

Reason being, on one of my many phone calls with Colin, this one took place as soon as I'd walked through the door at home just in from work when he called, and said we, meaning Chester Select, had got a new manager in Kevin Ratcliffe!

Almost in the same breath, he told me that Ian Rush had confirmed, and that Kev had decided he couldn't manage a team with Rush and Owen in, so decided he wanted to be part of the Chester management set up instead!

Colin was going to do a piece on radio Merseyside about the game and would reveal the news about Rush on there too, so a bit of twitter work needed to build it all up!!

I then sent over a press release to the TV media about the inclusion of Rush and it's amazing to see how much pull he still has after all these years!

BBC, Granada, and Sky Sports all wanted to come down on the night of the game on the back of that press release, and with the help of Michelle Owen from Sky Sports - who would go on to play in the all stars match, helped with this too!

So, the night before the game, I spent many hours making sure everything was covered for the Big night. Think it was 2.30am when the pc was shut down, lots to sort. .

I'll leave it there for now, and will talk about matchday on the next blog!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

What a difference a week makes!

Well that was certainly an interesting week in the life of a Chester fan wasn't it?!?

The City Fans United meeting at the club a week ago Thursday was surely one of the most uncomfortable to sit through and listen to where we were right now.

An immediate target of £50k was set to help the club stay afloat as under current projections the club would run out of cash by March, which was of course the month back in 2010 that the former club went into liquidation in the High Court.

The alarm bells were certainly ringing louder than ever. The first half of that meeting was all about what had happened, and how it had happened. The inquest.

The second half of that meeting was how things could be put right, and that was the most important part of the meeting as if we couldn't identify that, then there would be club in the very near future.

The feeling inside the Blues Bar come the end of the night was a feeling of shock at what had come out in that meeting, but also of the will to come together and fight as one for our club to survive.

3 nights later and a meeting at the ground with the existing board members, and by the end of it I had rejoined the board. Reason being I couldn't stand back and let my club go through the most critical phase of its last 8 years, without trying to do my bit for it again.

Biggest challenge for me is to ensure my family life do not suffer from my rejoining of the board. Football has to come second sometimes!! I stepped down from the board 4 years ago as the first of my two boys were born, now I have two 3 and 2 year old boys who demand all the time in the world from both me and especially my wife. Every family will know the demands kids of young ages possess and we're no different.

So, with that in mind, the first few weeks are going to be very hard, but this time the club now has a great media team that we set up previously where as 8 years ago everything needed doing on that side of the club!

Since rejoining last Monday night, we've tried to have a positive impact as possible out there and we're certainly seeing everyone pulling together. The youth match was something special, where else would you have seen this happen!? The Chester family came together and raised nearly double the money that would've come through from the first two home now league games of the season. Amazing.

The challenge of course now is to keep that intensity up and not just raise the £50k required immediately, but also to look at building the reserve of £100k up again whilst the club looks after itself. It feels very different this time, the will is out there to ensure that we do not end up in this situation again.

Last time we knew what we were up against, it was one family hurting us, but we battled that and delivered a club we could all be proud of. Along the way we've lost what that club was all about, but we've been given a chance to restore all that we believed in, so we WILL turn this around.

We just need everyone to be with us every step of the way, and I thank everyone now for their help that they have shown so far but also in advance as your help and support, and involvement is needed right from the off.

Thanks, Jeff

Sunday, 21 January 2018

We need ideas. This is an old one of mine. The 250 Club


It's been a long day. Chester have blown what looks like a chance to at least give themselves a fighting chance of staying up this season so it looks like a case of preparing for next season in the National League North unless something dramatic happens in the next 3 months.

So, after a night of thinking about all of this and being in the main depressed about the whole thing, we need to think about how we can help our club. So my challenge to all Chester fans is think of an idea that can benefit our club for next season and beyond.

Here's mine. Now this is something that I put together in a few minutes. I've always believed in getting families back in to our club. The task 8 years ago was to see more fans in Chester shirts than the usual Man Utd and Liverpool shirts that you'd tend to see around town. Now we need those families back so that we get new Chester fans of the future. Where am I going with this? Read on...

Many businesses can help...

250 Club (this was suggested about 18 months ago to the club)

To create a business club with a minimum 250 businesses that commit to a figure of £250 that gives them corporate CFU membership for 5 years, raising £62,500 for CFU.

250 businesses sign up to help promote the fact that Chester FC is a fan owned club for the community of Chester and the surrounding areas to become involved in.

Each business that signs up by paying £250 to CFU corporate will each receive 4 family tickets (value £168). If they then refer another 5 businesses they'll receive a further 2 family tickets (value £84).
Social media mentions for all taking part

Each month, a CFU Corporate members draw would take place, to include:
  • Directors Row tickets
  • Signed ball or shirt
  • Directors Experience
  • Attend training session with pictures with players and manager
  • £25 voucher to spend in club shop
  • Website article
  • Match programme article
  • Stadium tour
  • 1 free hire of the Legends Lounge for business meeting
  • Business of the month title

250 x £250 = £62500 for CFU

Options from here.
£12,500 could be set aside for one match in the season to be £1 entry for all, based on fans picking up 10 tokens from games in the first half of the season. Season Ticket holders to have this included as their free matches allocation.

The club could then take a minimum £3000 based on a 4000 attendance (taking into consideration 1000 season ticket holders).

Objective being to reward those who pay on the day fans who have watched the club in the first half of the season, with a Match for a Quid in the second half of the season.

What if the 250 Club exceeds 250 members?
Simple. It's still the 250 Club. The more the better and it can grow organically. For every additional 100 businesses that join the club, the original 250 get an additional family ticket.

The idea is for businesses to receive the family tickets to then pass on to encourage new people down to the match, maybe via an in house competition, or for them simply to reward excellence at work. With it being a family ticket, they could then bring children to the game too, which would potentially increase the number of young children attending the games.

I really believe that there are businesses out there who are run by fans like you and me and are happy enough to put £250 in to the club and help where they can.

The benefits are not set in stone, they are just ideas, but ideas that don't cost anything.


What would be your idea and could it help raise instant funds for the club as that's what it will need.

Now, the club under the stewardship of Mark Maguire has said a 100 club was ready to be launched with an initial target to hit to see a budget being hit. I believe we can do even better with a more affordable option for small and medium businesses out there. 

Question is, as a business, would you pledge to pay £250 based on the above?

Thanks Jeff 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Our Club Needs You!

Our club is in trouble. It needs you.

This is not the same rallying call as the one 8 years ago, when the club was dying, when the club was being ripped apart at the seams by a chairman that just had one aim for the club at the time. Death.

No, this is different.

Chester FC is owned by the fans, and when it's in trouble it needs it's fans to help it. The same way the fans looked after it just 8 years ago when it was guided through the choppiest waters imaginable. The waters that would see us lose our club as we knew it. But the waters would also see a new beginning. A beginning that saw the fans fight for their club. Even the FA tried and failed to relegate us to a lower level than we deserved

We fought that battle...and won.

Now we have a new battle. A battle to keep ourselves in the National League. Sure we've had this kind of battle before over the last few seasons, but this time it's different. We seem to have lost our way. But we need to work together to give us the best possible chance to win this battle.

If we get relegated, then so be it. But let's not give in. Remember it won't be the end of our club if we go down. It will feel like it though I'm sure.

There are still points to play for. Many points. Yes it's up to the management and players to deliver points but it's also the fans responsibility to deliver what we can to help the club in its hour of need.

We all want the best for Chester FC no matter what your viewpoint. We have experienced a good few years of that in the last decade but now when the chips are down the club needs us not to turn our backs on it but to rally around it.

The meetings in the Guild Hall proved that the fans loved their club and would do anything to get it back off it's knees when the worst happened, and now those same fans, and new fans can play a part too…

Some may be disenchanted with our position right now. But we have a club worth fighting for, there is no doubt about that. So let's do something about it.

So ask yourself, what can I do to help my club?

Can you bring someone new to the ground to home games to help swell the attendances and bring much needed revenue into the club?

Can you help by volunteering for the club you love?

What was that song lyric? When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

It's easy to moan. We all do that. It's easy to do it too.

But think to yourself, what good am I doing by moaning? Is it helping the club? No.

One thing you can do that's absolutely free to do is to spread the word about our upcoming matches. It's simple, just do it. And the other thing? Back the lads from the first whistle to the last. You'd be amazed at how much of a difference this can make.

We've had bad times on the pitch before, and no doubt we'll have them again, but let's just try this time to make a difference yeah?

Relegation. What does it mean for Chester FC?

Well for a start, we're probably likely to have a playing budget in the bottom half of the National League North. That's fact.

There are 8 full time clubs in the National League North. For those who think “Well we'll be okay, we can just win the league and come back stronger’ need a reality check. Have a look at the teams, and the well financed clubs in that league right now. Hands on heart, where do you think we'd come in that league?

Our club needs it's fans most right now. If we can stay up then some may say it is just a stay of execution. I personally believe it gives us a chance to do things better next year.

We have proved our worth to the national league over the last few years. We've done things the right way. Paid our bills when some others haven't, and despite what some may think we've made massive strides off the pitch on the community side of the club. Some things really need to be celebrated at our club but some choose to side on the negative instead.

There is a lot of work to be done that's for sure, but only we can help. There is no sugar daddy to make things right with the click of a finger. They'd have shown their hands by now wouldn't they? It didn't exactly work out well last time either did it???

What we need right now is a concerted effort by every fan who loves Chester FC to really think about what they want for our club. Do they want to fight for the cause or accept defeat? I know where I sit.

So, I ask all Chester fans to really rally now and give everything they've got for our club. Nobody else is going to do it for us so it's up to us.

Fight until it's mathematically impossible to stay up. And even if that does end up being the case then think what can I do to help next season to put things right.

Whatever happens at the end of April will not see the end of our club. It will be a setback if it happens, of course it will.

But we will fight on.
Thanks for reading.

Chester Forever


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Two Years On...The Dream Is Still Alive

March 10th, 2010, was a horrible day for Chester City fans – make no mistake about that. The end of the Club they had supported for years, decades, many heading towards a century, but in one fell swoop the Club they had followed collectively since 1885 was shut down, thanks to one unpaid tax bill hearing at the High Court.

The problems of course had surfaced long before that unpaid tax bill, with a whole plethora of problems at the football club we had put so many years of effort and support into.

It was a black day in the history of the Club.

It was however, also the dawn of a brand new and brighter era for the fans. Knowing that the support was out there from not just our own fans, but fans from other clubs up and down the country gave hope and inspiration to those who dared to dream of a better future for football in Chester.

Who would have thought that the days of being embarrassed to wear the blue and white striped shirts around the City would turn completely on its head and become a ‘cool’ trend amongst kids and adults alike to be seen in their tops around the historic City of ours.

Who would have thought that the fans who met in ‘Bingo halls’ as some said, would go on to deliver a Club that actually embraced the Community, and gaining supporters – some who had never been down to the Deva Stadium before – and many who returned for the new era, convinced that this was a new dawn for the Club.

Who would have believed that we would see such a great standard of football at the level we were faced with playing, and enjoyable trips to grounds around the North West of England, and some beyond that perimeter.

Who would have thought that we’d be appearing on national radio as proof that a club can prosper despite being effectively knifed through the heart by its previous owners in its previous form?

Who would have believed that a Club could be pulled together in just 12 weeks and that the Club would win silverware in its first season as a reformed club.

The fact is that the fans did believe that this was possible, and this is only the start of the journey to get to the Promised Land… the Football League.

Those fans, the 2000 odd owners of Chester Football Club, the 500 Junior Blues, the 3500 that turned up for the Nantwich game in 2012, the 4000 Twitter followers, the 5000 weekly visitors to the Club’s Facebook page, and the 20,000 monthly unique visitors to the Club’s website, believe that Chester FC is part of their lives, and how right they are.

Chester FC is now in our hearts and in our soul (apologies Everton fans!), but then again, it always was, and that is why it was worth fighting for in the first place. The Club was on its knees, desperate, looking for a lifeline, but cruelly denied it by one family in particular.

The Family that is the Chester Family stood up and were counted, and now that family is spreading the word throughout the Community, that their Club is alive and kicking, and on the way back – and how.

We have a Manager that is totally dedicated to winning trophies and driving the Club forward, the board is totally dedicated to that too, and are doing things the right way, to ensure that nothing, I repeat nothing, puts the club’s future at risk.

It has been a challenging two years alright, but look at how far we have come – from that first friendly at Colwyn Bay, where 1500 fans travelled to herald a new era, to the away match at Garforth last season where 2300 fans made the journey to Yorkshire to go through what can be described as a ‘unique’ experience to win a League at it’s first attempt.

This season has seen no let up in the ambitions to get back to the first milestone, which is Conference football, and with five or six more wins, may actually leave the Evo-Stik League for the Conference League – where the old girl Chester City died.

Two years ago, we felt numb, gutted that it had come to losing our club, and yes we were a bunch of romantics who believed that we could do something about it, and thankfully we weren’t the only ones with the backing received at the Guild Hall in February & May 2010, and also at that very first home match against Trafford in September 2010. Then we knew that this was a dream that could come true.

The best thing in the two years for me, has been the smiles of the faces inside the ground, yes there are always debates about whether that player or this player should be in the starting eleven, or why we didn’t score 3 goals rather than 2, but isn’t it great to be talking about that rather than worrying where the next winding up order was coming from, or how much the next unpaid tax bill would be for?

Football in Chester has changed forever, and if we keep doing what we’re doing, then it can only bode well for the Club’s future – especially with all the kids that are coming down to the ground now.

If you haven’t got your little one signed up to the Junior Blues yet, then do it today, it’s a fantastic way to get our younger fans hooked on to Chester FC the way you were. If you haven’t joined or renewed your CFU membership yet, then do it today, this is YOUR club, and who else can claim to be owners of their football club for just a fiver??

The nightmare of March 10th, 2010 happened, but so did the rising of the Phoenix on the same day, and the fire is still breathing now amongst every Chester fan, and long may it continue. We need to keep that fire alive, and everyone can play their part in doing so, so please keep it going, and help us prove to everyone that Chester FC are well and truly on their way back.

Chester Forever.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Chester FC on Radio 1 - Who would've thought it?

Yes, I never really thought I'd see Chester FC & Radio 1 in the same sentence, but yesterday that actually happened, when an out of the blue (no pun intended) call came through from the Radio 1 Newsbeat team, who were looking to do a feature about the situation in football at present, notably at Portsmouth & Rangers, and wanted to see how a club can cope with going under, and if there is any way back.

We have displayed at Chester FC that there is life after death, and that hope is never lost, despite having to go through what was a cruel, cruel death thanks to to one family's work, some may say we're better for it now, to be where we are now, although I would never agree with the sentiment 'It's the best thing to ever happen to us' - as I don't believe it was, if a person dies having been in pain, you wouldn't often say that it was 'the bets thing that ever happened to them' - you'd probably say that they were now in a better place - and that's the way I see things.

March 10th 2010, was one of the hardest days to bear, knowing that our club would be wound up in the High Court, left a very bitter taste in the mouth with how Chester City FC had been destroyed, without any chance of saving it. Some fans from 12 miles up the road say how we let the club die unlike them when they put their money in to save the club - well it was a completely different situation.

At Chester, the fact was that Vaughan wanted £750,000 - a little different than the £150k raised by Wrexham fans - there was no way he was going to see that back, no way at all. I even remember the argument I had with him over the phone at work on my lunch - stood up at my desk, for a solid hour, with him telling me that he deserved this money and that we could have the club as long as we took on the debt, which was mainly a claim of loans from himself.

The Club was in a mess, and as we know, one that it would fail to recover from in the form of Chester City, and on March 10th, the message came through that it had gone, and for a moment a pause then the thought of 'this is it, this is where it all begins for real' and the process of building the club up again would start that very day, that Wednesday, in March.

Of course a lot of work had already been done in the background, with the thought 'Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst' in mind - it had served us well to do just that, and from that moment on we never looked back, and have always tried to do the right thing - I say tried, as not everyone agrees with key decisions that are made, that's just human nature, if we all agreed it would be boring. One thing is for sure though, whatever steps we have taken to move the club forward have done just that, and we plough on trying to get back to the promised land of the football league.

A good debate is where we'll think we have got back to where the club was when CCFC died that painful death. Is it when we get back to the Blue Square Prem, where the Club was sitting in minus points whilst the wreckage ensued all round it?

Would it be when we get to the Blue Square North, as CCFC would obviously have been relegated in that final season had it lasted, or would it be the league we're now fighting to escape from as the Conference would have more than likely kicked CCFC out of both of their leagues given the issues they were presented with, so it could have been that the league we're in now is where CCFC would be today had it continued, so it could be argued that we're now at where the Club left off.

The way I see it is that we just remain focused and get on with it, it won't feel like the first part of the job is done until we get to the BSP, which will hopefully be just around the corner, and I keep looking at the table to see just how tough the Conference North is, and Halifax, despite picking up recently, have started to endure a bit of a blip, now we all know about those of course, but I really hope that Halifax get promoted this year, as they are definitely one of the stronger teams in the Conference North, and it would be great for them to get back to the Conference too, given their history.

Jim Harvey's Stalybridge seem to have hit a stumbling block too, for a while it looked like it would be them & Hyde who would be fighting it out for promotion, but Hyde appear to have it half in the bag now/ I do fancy our chances in the Conference North though I have to say, but let's just get there first, hopefully we won't see a repeat of last season where it went down to the last day - we have taken a really strong step forward recently, with results also going our way, so with an 8 point lead and a game in hand in the bag, hopefully we're in a stronger position this year, it certainly feels like it. We just need to see Northwich play a few games, and drop points along the way!!

Oh yes, back to Radio 1, never would I have thought that I'd be getting a call off them, we'll be on the Top 40 next - maybe The Jestrian's Neil Young rap will make it to the top of the charts!!

It's all good coverage though for the club, and hopefully it won't end there, I'm sure Football Focus will be getting an invite to come back to the Exacta again 12 months on from their last visit here, and I'll keep on trying, but hopefully one day Sky Sports Soccer Saturday will take a trip down here too, it seems ages ago since I did an interview by the river with them, so think I'll give them another reminder that we're still here - and doing well!

So, onto Saturday we go then and Frickley away, we were all cheering that equalizer on Saturday in their game against Hednesford, and they won't be easy either considering they took a point off us at the Exacta earlier on in the season, but hopefully the lads will give it their all and come back with 3 points!

Come on you Blues!!!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Back on the Promotion trail

I must admit, I've only just realised that I've not blogged since before Christmas, so to anyone reading this, hope you enjoyed your festive celebrations, and had a great New Year, seeing the Blues top of the League at Christmas and going into 2012 was all we wanted, and got!

Form has been a bit patchy for the Blues since that win at Marine, but the fact remains we are now three points clear of Hednesford, with 2 games in hand, and with the implosion at Northwich, Chorley & Marine seem as though they could be the challengers to the current top 2.

Powell gets a late Christmas card
That Northwich game was extremely frustrating, with the early goal and sending off meaning we should have won that match at a canter, but we failed to take our chances, and let Northwich back in it, and if we're being truthful the ref could and should perhaps of given Vics a penalty in the last minute - although it wasn't the first mistake of the day by him, having decided to let himself be overruled by an official who was furthest from the Michael Powell and John Disney incident - purely ridiculous that.

The turn of the year saw us then take on Nantwich at home, and revenge was in the air following the 4-1 defeat back in August, but Nantwich proved very stubborn, and a succession of missed chances meant that our first home game of the new year ended in a draw, just like it did back in 2011 against Warrington! The most amazing thing from the Nantwich game was the attendance, over 3500 were inside the Exacta, and I'd popped in to the Safety Room to ask if we were anywhere near the 3000 mark at about 2.50pm and was staggered to be told we were already over 3200 and people were still queueing outside!

The thoughts then turned to Rushall, where we all wondered how we'd fare against a team that have taken points from most of the teams at the top of the table this season, but those fears were dispelled as we set out on a major 4-0 win over our West Midland counterparts, and that was great to see, restoring some confidence perhaps lost in the Nantwich draw.

Maybe next year, Wembley.
Attentions then turned to the FA Trophy, and I think it's fair to say we were all gutted that we didn't get at least a draw against Ebbsfleet, as our performance certainly deserved that outcome, having had to travel so far, the lads pulled out the stops to try and get the replay, but that 3rd goal just wouldn't come, and the Wembley dream was left behind, with a possible envious glance back at Wembley Stadium by those travelling back on the train.

I definitely think we missed Powelly in the middle, and who knows maybe we would have got something had he not been missing that game.

Then the big game at home to Hednesford, and another great crowd, only 91 fans travelled from the Midlands, which was maybe disappointing, but seeing over 3200 Chester fans inside again was superb. As for the match, well that was another day of frustration, with rare slip ups at the back costing us the game, but I did feel that if we could have got back to 2-2 in that game then we would have gone on to win, but alas we didn't and we had to surrender our superb home run of 27 games without defeat.

eerily dark on a sunny day
Perhaps the most disappointing thing to deal with was the smashing of a window on the away supporters coach - there is no place for that kind of act at our Club, we have built Chester FC up with a family reputation, and that will continue. These people just don't realise the effect that this has on the Club, think back to the Colwyn Bay mess. We were trying to get various sponsorship deals for the Club, and they then see that there is trouble at our first friendly - that had so much impact on what we were trying to do, as potential sponsors will think that they do not want to be involved with bad news, and rightly so. But thanks to a great effort to pull sponsors back in, we succeeded in convincing them that Chester FC were a forward thinking club, with a strong community ethos, and I think the proof is in the pudding, but these idiots certainly don't think about the fact they are hurting the Club they claim to support.

Anyway, back to the football, and we were all left disappointed by the fact the Liverpool v Man Utd reserves match had fallen foul of the weather a couple of weeks ago, and there was an argument that the pitch covers should have been deployed, but in the end it really made no difference as the temperature plummeted once the sun disappeared beneath the West Stand, and ice started to appear on the pitch and by 6pm it was clear that the game would have been a ice-nightmare for the players involved, and we could have talking of the likes of Berbatov causing themselves a great injury, something which we would have not wanted, and clearly the ref decided the same. Who knows what kind of action these clubs could take if such an incident occurred.

That game will hopefully be replayed in April, and certainly Liverpool understood that we were beaten by the weather, and hopefully come April, we'll have better weather and a potentially bigger crowd.

The fact that we had another home game on the Saturday meant that we would take no chances on the Friday night, and we put the call out for fans to come down and help lay the pitch covers, and I think that it was the right decision to make as the cold snap certainly happened on the Friday night, and a quick call to arms again meant that the game went ahead, and what a start - 2 goals in the first 20 minutes, and I think its fair to say we were all expecting an avalanche of goals, but it really didn't happen, and after Mickleover scored their goal we sort of went into our shell a bit.

The plus point was the introduction of Stefan Cox who certainly had a lively looking debut, when he eventually got the ball, he then made life a misery for the full back, and when he swapped to the right wing, with Howard on the left, we looked to have a bit more balance, and Cox looked electric down the right, despite being a left winger!

My favourite shot from a cold crisp day at the Exacta
I recently took the opportunity to get some snaps of the Exacta Stadium, on a cold crisp day, and hopefully anyone reading this (is there anyone reading this bar me??) will like those photos, which I've included on here today.

On the media side recently, there has been plenty going on, just the other week myself & Pat visited the new BBC set up at Salford Quays, to meet one of Colin Murray's production team, and the place was very impressive, a very 'open' feel to it, with all staff having a decent view out of the windows, but also where people walking past can see in to their office, so you're pretty much on view here to anyone!

We're working together with Colin's team for something that we had hoped to announce this season, but things have just dragged on a little bit longer than what we'd hoped, but we will still definitely be doing something with Colin & co in the near future - the major plus is that he has been coming to our home games whenever possible, showing his support for the Blues.

The Jestrian has to be one of my favourite reads each day, even though I'm the butt of some of those made up names, Jar Jar Banks, Army Tanks, and Jaffie Bracks being some of those names, but I do love the humour of it, and its all a welcome break from the busy life that this 'media junkie' seems to have, even though I'm officially out of work at the moment!!

Looking ahead to today, well there is a stack of CFU stuff to be getting on with, so time to put a bit of man power to that, will blog again soon, and will attempt to not leave it over a month this time!

Come On You Blues!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Well it's been a while since I blogged - it's just been crazily busy recently so not really had the chance to do much, so 2012 will be different on that score that's for sure - it's been a brilliant 12 months with the Championship win and the team currently top of the Evo-Stik Premier League - what an amazing feat that the lads have achieved.
It's been a very busy time off the pitch too, with much work being done behind the scenes too, and special praise must go out to all the volunteers who are each doing their own bit to help drive the club forward - I'm sure each and every one of those volunteers really enjoy what they are doing to help, and that is how we all feel too, so again together as one.

One of my favourite moments of 2011
Being a Chester fan has never been easy, and its definitely been challenging at times, but the 10's (as in the 80s, 90s etc) has certainly got off to a great start, and that 40 year cycle of Chester FC continues to trend, in the 1930's the club entered the football league, in the 1970's the Club enjoyed it's best ever spell, and now in the 2010's we are enjoying the Club being reborn, and treating us all to some great away days, and results to go with them.

Next week of course it's the Boxing Day match at Northwich, and I can't remember getting this excited since that Boxing Day trip to Preston North End when we were chasing promotion from the old Division 3 (the one after it used to be Division 4 of course!), and that day we took 2500 fans to Deepdale, with the home stewards and police shocked that we'd brought so many. I think only the trip to Blackburn could put that one in the shade, and what an atmosphere that turned out to be, and I'm sure the one at Northwich will be a cracker (no pun intended), and the sound of 'Yellows Yellows' will be ringing away arund the ground.

Much has been made of the Northwich chairman, and their interesting way of ticketing arrangements, and we will only know on Boxing Day if what they decided on was a mistake or not, certainly their 'poke' at Chester was unwarranted, and every other Club has agreed to the commission rate on tickets sold from the Exacta - it's just standard practice - but for some it obviously isn't. They want slave labour.

This last week has been interesting too on the media side of things, with a request for me to do an interview with the Ebbsfleet Podcast to help preview the big game in the FA Trophy in January. The podcast is I think aimed at those exiled from Ebbsfleet, or those who have bought a piece of 'My Football Club' that live in the US - either way, it was a nice little interview and I tried to push home just what Chester fans had been through in the last few years, well decades I should say!

That interview is due to air sometime next week I believe.

9 Gold Rings - Classic Ash!
Last night was the Chester FC Christmas Party, and it was a really good night once again at Chester Racecourse, and a chance to take the mickey out of a few of the players via the Christmas Quiz - seeing them attempting to guess the Christmas song titles via a Give Us a Clue type game was classic!

Well that's about it today, I could go on, but it's my last day at work and I now have to get ready before 12 years at MBNA comes to an end, so to all Chetser fans, have a brilliant Christmas & New Year, and let's get those singing voices ready for Northwich on Boxing Day - COYB!

By the way The Jestrian, what a top blog, and amazingly one of my favourite Christmas bites is a box of Jaffa Cakes!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Away Days are great aren't they...apart from Plymouth

What an amazing day last Saturday was.

One of the best I would say since following the Blues, and we’ve had some crackers too, but there is nothing like coming behind after the referee has gifted the opponents two goals, meaning you think you’re playing against twelve, thirteen or fourteen men – let me check, yes they were all male officials – to then turn it around and grab a winning goal right at the end, that was special.

The celebrations probably seemed over the top to FCUM fans, but hey, we’ve put up with so much shit over the years, that we’re entitled to celebrate like we’d won the world cup at the end of the match – how many times have we seen late goals going in that have cost us a game, many I would think, so we’ll enjoy this one thank you very much.

The actual game reminded me of my first match memory, all the way back in 1982 I think it was, eek 30 year anniversary to come next year, but if I remember it correctly, we were playing Portsmouth at the time, yes, really.

Tervor Morley - season wrecker
We ended up taking the lead in that game, before we were 2-1 down, only then to come storming back to win 3-2, and that is where my love affair with Sealand Road and Chester FC started, I wish it was all as good as that – christ knows I’ve seen some shockers over the years, the worst at Sealand Road was probably the 5-0 defeat at home to Northampton on the first game of the season, a lovely summer’s day, everyone singing songs with high spirits, and then the referee’s whistle sounded and Trevor Morley went on to wreck our first game with a hat trick against us. I clearly remember this match as I’d won free tickets to sit in the Main Stand (only ever did this three times, the other two were the 1-0 win in the Fright Rover Trophy against Mansfield, when we were so so close to getting to Wembley, and the other being our fine 2-1 win over Wrexham in 86 – ‘Mean, Mean, Mean Machine’ – come on Stevie Johnson!).

Anyway, where was I? Oh that’s right, free tickets. I’d won them in a competition on Marcher Sound, as it was then, I couldn’t believe it, a freebie to watch my beloved Blues, and then they go and do that – I wrote back asking for a refund even though it’d had not cost me a penny!

Hmmm, not like the old away end then? Bastards.
Talking of worst games, there are a few that stand out in memory following Chester. The 1-0 defeat to Plymouth in the FA Cup, it pissed down all day, the coach journey back was possibly the most miserable of trips ever, remember sitting there in my boxers as the jeans had come off they were that soaked – I sincerely hope that would be on the only time someone would sit on the Hipkiss Express in their boxer shorts!

That day really annoyed me, the rain was one thing, but they even told us Blues that there were no seats available in the covered stand, only to then pay at the turnstile for the open terrace, and look up and see loads of empty seats. Bastards.

They then proceeded to keep us in for 20 minutes after the game, by this point we’d all be doing impressions of a human sponge, and just as we thought we’d nick a replay, they scored a late winner, 5 minutes before the end if I remember correctly. Bastards.

They then marched us through a covered stand – why did they do that, did they just want to rub it in even more? – then on what seemed a circular journey to go back to our coaches, we’d have been closer to the coaches if we’d just gone through the turnstiles we came through in. Bastards. Magic of the FA Cup my arse.

The other crap games I remember, well until the mid 90’s Mansfield away was always crap, we always seemed to get beat 2-0 there. Hartlepool was quite possibly the coldest place on earth – apart from winter in Macclesfield 1990-91.

We did have some crap home games too, I seem to remember Crewe stuffing us 6-0 at the Deva in the mickey mouse tournament (that had been devalued since we were so close to Wembley). I remember that match for two reasons, one for the result, and the second for the fact it was the first match for my now ex-girlfriend, she never came again, bad omen she turned out to be!

The 5-1 defeat at home to Leyton Orient was a shitter too, that turned out to be the day that I bumped into Terry Smith in the corridor at the back of the club, told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of it, and him, and next thing he was stepping down. Good.

In fact I had made a habit of that, as when we got beat 4-0 at home to Birmingham at the Deva, I was doing the commentary for the blind in those days, and when Mick Pejic came up, I had a pop at him, and he said ‘Do you think you could do better yourself?’, “Yes” I told him, and also said I’d love to have the chance to prove it. He got sacked a few days later!

I better watch what I say with Youngy ha ha!

Drifted off a bit there, so back to it – amazing support at FC United, non stop singing was absolutely superb. What a load of rubbish when we were told by FCUM that they couldn’t hear us – did we hear them? No, not really, we were too busy singing!

Apologies to all who I may have jumped on in that melee after the second goal, it was just a case of dancing a jig of delight, and then I managed to compose myself somehow for the winner! Great day out, it’s not often you win 30-2 away from home!

More of the same tomorrow lads!!!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What a long month!

Little did I realise how eventful September would become...

When the month started, it was more a case of the lads bouncing back from the Bank Holiday defeat at Nantwich, and what a good start was made to that, but who would have envisaged that for the rest of the month Chester FC would go on to score 23 goals without reply, with 7 wins on the bounce, one of those a very very satisfying win over Chorley at the Exacta.

The whole month for me though was destined to become linked to working on the launch of the new website, although I don't think even I realised how much time it would require!

London looked good in the blue sky!
In mid September myself & Chris Pilsbury visited Perform, the group who supply all the help and expertise of running the websites across the league, those Football League websites that you see. Before we got there though we took a breather and had a look at the London eye before getting the train on to our final destination!

Seeing their premises was impressive, and seeing how they pull things together was even more eye-opening. We were given a tour of the buildings, and shown how they receive streams of live sport from across the world, and how they then transfer that in to websites around the world.

During that visit, we learned a lot, and also found out that the anticipated go-live date would be just 10 days after our visit - that frightened the shit out of me if I'm being perfectly honest!

So, the task would be to bring together content for the whole site, which at this starting point was a shell, so much work would be needed to get it to where it needed to be.

The next 10 days and nights then would be full of work at home for me, so everything else had to be forgotten about for the time being, sadly that included the Hyde away game, and the match at Stafford too, as I would simply have run out of time.

Unfortunately this also meant pretty much being in my own world for 10 days & nights too, so ended up probably becoming a stranger to my own wife, so now it's live there is plenty of making up to be done!

Yes please!
Last weekend was quite stressful in the way that I knew everything had to be bang on, but some things weren't working or appearing as I'd expected it too on the test site, whilst there were other items that would be part of the package that I hadn't even got around to looking at just yet. By 10pm I'd had enough of staring at the screen though, so power off and time for sleep!

So, the Monday morning, as ever, up at 5.30am and opened up the PC prior to going to work, and doing some last minute tests - everything was ready at my end, now it would be over to Perform to test and hopefully launch on the Monday.

There were a few issues which still needing ironing out as there were a few references to Chester City FC which we obviously needed to remedy, and with the testing of the website, it appeared that it would take longer for the launch to happen, and on Monday afternoon it was decided that the site would be launched on the Tuesday, as some testing still had to be done on the Tuesday morning.

It was almost a case of what else could I do on the Monday night, so I had a quick read of CoveritLive, the live text commentary, but my head was so panned from the weekend where I'd sat on the couch with the laptop on for 12 hours each day, that I just called it quits and chilled out!

So, to Tuesday morning, and here we go again, waiting for the nod, which finally came in the afternoon, as it took a few hours for everything to be put in to production, and finally at around 6pm the website went live, so the next few hours were spent dealing with any issues that had arisen on the site, or things that weren't showing correctly.

I think I fell flat asleep on the Tuesday night, but pleased it was finally launched, and just in time too before the big Chorley game on the Wednesday.

So, Wednesday night it was back to the Exacta and I think everyone was feeling up for it during the day, and couldn't wait for the action to start - there was plenty to do pre match too, with plenty of press coming along, plus the setting up of the half time penalty shoot out which involved some running round to organise, but we got there!

The match itself was a great occasion, the first half was edgy, but as soon as Brownie let rip with that thunderbolt of a shot, there was only one winner, and when Matty McNeil headed in for number 2, I nearly gave myself a broken neck when I went running down the steps to celebrate, thankfully the wall in front halted the charge forward!

Well beaten!
That third goal was a peach too, with Wes curling it home from 25 yards, and that was that - I was in the tunnel when the players were coming in, and just gave Mr Flitcroft a wink, with one word, "Unlucky" - and then back out to help sort out the exit of the Chorley media, and back to quickly get a drink in what was a hot bar!

What a night, and a great way to see out September!

Plenty more to come in October, and let's hope that our great run continues, and that we get Chorley back off the top of the table!