Monday, 28 February 2011

One step closer to that title...

It's been a busy old 10 days and that's why I've not had chance to blog recently, so here we go time to catch up, and a lot to catch up on, the win at Chorley, the Cup defeat at Lancaster, and the win against Durham, which sees the Blues go nine points clear at the top of the table.

So, Chorley first.

Let's get the ugly out of the way first, and a lot has been said already about the scenes at Victory Park, and I'm not going to talk too much about it as it is all being dealt with behind the scenes, but let's just say that scenes like that should never have been allowed to happen on the day, and steps should have been taken to have a police presence inside the ground given the way the match was being built up.

The statement that we came out with was labelled by one individual on a forum as "pathetic" yet to everyone else it was bang on and as diplomatic as we could make it. I think that individual would have created quite possibly the most unprofessional had he been given the task of doing the statement - and that is why we have a bunch of more than decent people running the club, as they can help keep the club looking professional by casting eyes over suggested statements and offering amendments where necessary.

A great away following at 1-0 Victory Park
It would have been completely the wrong thing to do to go out all guns blazing with a statement that blamed everyone else, except ourselves - we needed to get our own house in order before complaining about others, however that statement did register our dissatisfaction at what we'd seen at Chorley.

We could have come out with a knee jerk reaction to the events, but instead the extra few days following that statement release gave us the chance to let the dust settle, and then really get stuck into what happened that day, and put our feelings across - hence why my ugly mug found it's way onto the Chester Leader and Chester Standard too - that flippin picture wasn't exactly my finest hour either!

We've obviously written to the police and made our feelings known pretty clearly there, and we await to see what response we get. One thing I will say though is how hard hitting the Chronicle was last Thursday, and no-one should have to witness things like that, and as for the last comments by a Chorley 'fan'...well I'm not even gonna say anything, apart from the fact the lad should be embarrassed to actually be part of their supporters trust.

Are you Judgey in disguise?
I decided to jump on the Team Bus last Saturday as it was a big day and fancied doing a Q&A on Twitter with the players, and there were some great questions, including one for Adam Judge - had he ever been called Michael Buble before - he did laugh, and surprisingly said "yes" - although perhaps the funniest one was for Brad Barnes, who was the last person to call him Tom Cruise? About 5 of the lads all said at the same time, "himself!".

We then arrived at Chorley's ground only to be told to drive round the estate again, it became a farce in the end as we were directed to exactly the same point we'd been at before!

As for the game itself, well what a nervous ending, but what a great noise in behind the goal, and after the debacle of everyone getting white on their backs thanks to the newly painted turnstiles (why???), it was time to get the voice going and lots of singing was the order of the day, but those missed chances in the first half got you thinking was it going to be our day?

Well the second half proved it was, and in the distance great to see Wildey chasing down the defenders and forcing the error which led to Boothy scoring what turned out to be the winner, as everyone in the Chester end went delirious with delight.

Only 5 minutes injury time??
The rest of the game was a case of hoping we'd get that second goal, but the longer it went on, we knew we were approaching Flitcroft time, and when the board went up for 5 minutes, we just knew this was going to be a tense ordeal, and so it proved, but also proved how calm Chester remained under pressure - granted there were 2 good chances for the home side, but other than that, we just threw bodies in the way of everything, and the sweet sound of that final whistle signalled the fact that we were now well clear of Chorley in the table. Satisfaction.

The atmosphere inside the changing room was clear to hear, some very happy lads in there, although there was natural concern for Iain Howard who had gone off to hospital.

As I said, a lot of has been said about the aftermath, so I won't comment further on that.

So, the table looked great after that victory, and next up would be the President's Cup Semi Final at Lancaster, which sadly I couldn't make so had to follow the game on Twitter, and what a disastrous start, down to 10 men so early in the game, and the resulting penalty putting us one down.

Fair play to the lads for pulling it back though, and also good to hear that our hosts were extremely welcoming - as most have been this season wherever we've gone - and hearing that we'd equalized got the hopes going that we'd score another before the end to allow us to reach a Final for the first time in nearly a decade, but it wasn't to be as we were beaten in extra time and a long and late journey back for the lads.

Speaking to Chris Williams on Saturday at the game, and he said he got back at just after 2am then up for work at 8am, the joys of being a part time footballer hey?

Great to see Greg Stones & Michael Wilde take part in the Mobile Soccer Stadia event at Flint on Thursday night, Greg was very keen to promote this as he works for the Flintshire Youth Justice Service, and great for our players to be out there in the Community supporting initiatives like this.

Also on Thursday, an interview with Dee 106 to cover based on the events at Chorley, but had to wait until after work that one as it had been a very busy one for me on Thursday, well all week really!

Onto Friday, and the usual promoting of the Dee 106 Friday Night Footy Show on facebook & twitter, but lots of other stuff going on Friday too meant that the official website was a busy one, with the match preview and also the news that the players were going to do a signing session for the kids before the Durham game - a move we decided to make based on the fact that many children were involved in the scary scenes at Chorley, and we wanted to make them feel that they were extremely welcome at Chester Football Club, and their support has been great all season, with lots of them being decked out in blue and white!

Then to Saturday, and as usual a busy pre match, that saw John Kelly in as our Legend of the Week, my clearest memories of John in a Chester shirt are the goals against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup at Sealand Road, the Owls were in the top league at the time, and Lee Chapman was playing for them, but JK put us 1-0 up after just 7 minutes as Harry's boys tore into their visitors, in the same season that we beat Wrexham twice in the Cup of course.

Chapman though got them back on level terms though thanks to a foul on Billy Stewart which the ref never blew for, and they held out for a replay which they beat us 3-1 in of course.

The other goal I seem to recall JK scoring is the one that went in off his arse I think, against Man Utd in the 'official' opening of the Deva Stadium back in 1992!

Anyway, the busy pre match stuff was done, and now onto the game, a match of course that on paper we should have won comfortably - so I took my seat. That was the problem, my superstition is normally to stand at games, but this time I took a seat, and Durham promptly scored, so that was it back to my feet, and standing by the door, and thankfully Simmo scored at the end of what was a dismal first half to watch.

The Ruffer keeps Chorley in his pocket
So, to the second half , and this time Chester were putting much more together, and it didn't take long before the Ruffer put us 2-1 up, even if it did come with the help of a deflection, although I'm sure he'd disagree with that - but I thought Ruffer had a superb game on Saturday with some crunching challenges.

Then the agonising wait for a third goal we all knew was needed, having seen a few 2-2's already this year we didn't want another, so we were all naturally delighted when Kyle took his goal very well indeed, and nice one in off the far post, and that was that - the points were in the bag.

A quick look at the other scores told us that Skem & Fylde were winning, but Curzon who always seem to have about 2 or 3 games in hand on us were losing, and so it transpired, and the Blues went 9 points clear at the top, and 11 clear of Chorley, who didn't play.

So, a quick drink in the bar after the game, before settling down for the night and reflecting on another match down, 16 to go, and hopefully not too much longer before we can all start to celebrate a championship win!

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