Sunday, 1 May 2011

Championes Championes Ole Ole Ole...

What an insane end to Chester FC's very first league campaign, but one that ends on a really high having secured the title following an unbelievable twist of events that no-one expected!

The build up to the big day was the feeling of confidence of going into the game at Garforth needing just a point but believing we'd get the three to make it 100 points.

The day itself started with the departing of the team bus from the Exacta Stadium at 10.15am, and many fans who were themselves jumping on the Hipkiss Express(es) were there in force already to wave the boys off!

We had a good laugh on the way, with the lads in great spirits, and every other car that went past the coach on the motorway seemed to have a Chester scarf in it, and many let us know they were Blues fans with the obligatory horn tooting!

The funniest thing on the way was watching Gary Jones engrossed in the royal wedding, apparently he's a bit of a royalist so was enjoying soaking the coverage on the tv - mind you half the team was too!

The coach then stopped for brekky at a Holiday Inn about 20 miles from Garforth where they all had a light breakfast before setting off again, and now the excitement started to begin in earnest.

We then approached the ground, and now the sight of Chester fans in their colours was there to greet us, and what a sight it was - it felt just like Cup Final Day when you see the coaches arrive at Wembley, well this was our Wembley for the day, and most probably the 44th Cup final of the season!

Straight into the ground then and time to sort out a few media duties before going outside and sampling the atmosphere - I was hoping to sample a pre match burger but that queue was too bloody long!!

So, went for a walk around the ground to speak to a few regulars, and catch up with people who I used to chat with so often, but through my role have hardly had time to do since the season started, so it was nice to catch up again.

It really was the longest wait for a match to start though, and a look at the watch showed it was only 2.15 - another 45 to go - sheesh, why is it taking so long???

Then, it was time to get into my seat in the half decent stand that a lot of the Blues fans were situated in, and get behind the lads for what we hoped would be the championship winning performance and result - well what the hell, just the result would do!

No further had we kicked off it seemed that the first 'tweet' came in from Frank Hughes at Skelmersdale telling us that they had gone 1 up - no problem I thought, was half expecting that, then came 2-0. Hmmm.

The news then came through that it was 2-1, so suddenly Ossett were producing a fightback to help us out, not that we needed it as we were doing okay, creating a few chances, but not looking in trouble.

Then just before half time Asp lobbed a nice ball through to Powelly, who turned on a sixpence (often used commentators line there!) to hammer it home and put us into the lead - his fourth goal in four games, not a bad record for a lad who seemed to be getting hammered for some of his earlier performances, a tad unfair I'd say considering he'd only played about twice!

So, in at half time 1 up, with the news that Skem had grabbed a third - no problem, we were winning and it would mean Garforth would have to score twice to stop us winning the league, it looked unlikely didn't it???

During the first half the PA announcer said that he'd keep us up to date with the score at Skem, but as soon as he blurted out the early goal for Skem, we told him to put a lid on it, as we didn't need the lads distracted by that all match - just as well really considering what followed in the 2nd half!!!

Half time, and a quick breather - glass of water, happy that we'd gone in 1 up and were just 45 minutes from glory, it was a nice feeling.

Out for the second half then, and ready to go, only the substitution for Garforth seemed to galvanise them, and soon enough tweets were coming through from Skem that it was 4-1, then 5-1, and all of a sudden Garforth drew level.

It got worse of course, when Skem knocked in a sixth goal, and the unthinkable happened...Garforth scored to put themselves 2-1 up, a great goal, but one that completely knocked the stuffing out of us.

Suddenly, we were up against it, and when the news that Skem had gone 7-1 up came in, I began fearing the worst, could our dreams be in tatters??

Up popped the news that Ossett had pulled one back, so 7-2, and so it was back to 2 goals required for Skem IF we lost our game, what we had to bear in mind though was of course that we could not afford to concede another goal AT ALL.

I took a quick look around and I don't think I've seen so many people looking at watches and mobile phones to try and get updates, then someone shouted that it was now 8-2 but all eyes were on Neil who had someone at the Skem ground, but before we could get any signal from Neil, it was then 'apparently' 8-3, the emotions were now horrendous, I felt physically sick at this point.

Peterborough 2000 - horrible
Neil then looked up and signalled that it was still 7-2, and couldn't understand where other scores were coming from, but I guess we'll just put it down to those bizarre but really unhelpful 'last day rumours' - I think we all remember what happened in 2000 when someone jumped up mistakenly believing that a goal had gone in at the Shrewsbury v Exeter game, and we were 'apparently' safe, so we HAD to find out what the real score was.

It was 2 minutes before the end of the game, and we made our way down to the tunnel, and our game was all of sudden coming to an end, and we'd fail to find that equalizer, with the lads clearly affected by what was going on at Skem.

Neil then signalled that there was 6 minutes of injury time at Skelmersdale, so we then knew our fate, if Skem scored another 2, it would mean play offs for us, this was just unbearable.

After a few minutes I walked over to Neil, to find out, my timing was great as he turned round and said 'We've done it' before the celebratory pitch invasion took place - I'm not the strongest of lads, but I just lifted Youngy in the air in sheer delight, as we had done it, clinched the title in amazing circumstances.

For you Richie!
It was all full on celebrations from that point, and after several hugging of players, and fans, it was back to the tunnel where 'calm-as-you-like' Pat Cluskey was handing out the 'We did it Rich' t-shirts, which we were desperately hoping we'd be able to wear in memory and tribute to Rich Wightman, and I swear it was Rich who played his part by getting us over the line, under a gorgeous blue sky on Friday!

The singing fan in me came out as I joined in with just about every song that was being sung, but I was absolutely shattered at the same time, with adrenalin keeping me going!

It wasn't long before the trophy was held aloft and that signalled the first achievement of our proud little club, with an amazing 2300 fans that had turned the M62 into a sea of blue and white, I don't think that estate in Garforth knew what had hit it!!

Just before getting on the coach it was time to grab a Championship winning burger, one I'd been craving for all match, but knowing if I'd have had one at half time, I probably would have been sick in that 2nd half, so now I could enjoy my favourite match food - none of this prawn sandwich stuff for me thanks!

The journey home was a quiet one personally as I just felt drained, but the lads at the back of the team bus were going for it good style, with plenty of signing going on.

One funny moment was Wildey asking if we had actually won the title as he'd heard that Skem had scored enough to win, we told him that the trophy wasn't going back now!!!

It was also broken to Wildey that he'd won the golden boot so that delighted him, and Chester's number 10 was in good form for the rest of the night!!!

Back to the ground, and time to film the homecoming, but from an inside the coach point of view rather than the fans outside seeing the bus coming in, and Big George was there with the trophy straight away to show it off to everyone - how good though, a Chester lad holding up a Chester FC championship trophy - sweet.

It was a great day, and then the official homecoming party, but I can't summon up the energy for that write up now, that will have to wait!!!

Well done you Blues!!!

1 comment:

Richard said...

That was a great day. You've summed it up very nicely Banksy! Been great reading this blog all year, hope you keep it going over the summer and next year. Love hearing about all the behind the scenes stuff!