Thursday, 26 May 2011

Promotion Party & Parade draws a line under the season

What an amazing time Chester fans had last weekend, with the City Fans United Promotion Party last Friday night, followed by the Town Hall Civic Reception on Saturday which included the first open top bus tour since the 1970s featuring a winning Chester side on the top deck, complete with Championship trophy!

Friday was quite an eventful day to say the least, I'd been in touch with Daryl Clare as I'd invited him as CFU's guest for the evening together with his family. It was 12 months to the very date that Daryl had last been over for the Chester FC Re-Lanch at the Guild Hall, so what better opportunity for him to come over and see what had been achieved in that space of time.

I'd kept Daryl in the loop on how things were going as well as keeping up to date on how his career was going with Alfreton, who enjoyed promotion to the Conference this season. Daryl was certainly keen to come over and join in with our celebrations.

Oops, wrong Travelodge - nice one Jeff!
So, Daryl was booked into the hotel, and thought I'd give him the directions to the hotel, but completely forget that there were two hotels of the same chain in the City Centre, and yes, I'd given him the wrong hotel directions, so I got the call at just after 6pm on the Friday night with Daryl already walking through town from Pepper Street down past the Grosvenor Museum - the woman at Travelodge by the amphitheatre had told them it was only 10 minutes walk - what she didn't tell them was the best way to get to the Travelodge up by the Fountains roundabout!

I offered to go and pick him up, but as I was in the Saxo, it would have been a bit tricky to fit 2 adults, 3 kids, a buggy and a case in the car - Daz had already parked his car up in the car park by the other Travelodge so had decided to leave it in there overnight.

He declined the lift as he was happy for them all to have a walk up the road to the roundabout, but then I received a call back from him telling me little Courtney's CD was still in the car, so like a fireman running to his fire engine, here I was running to the Saxo - all ready for the Racecourse, but it was time for a slight diversion, so off I went picked him up and drove back to the car park, had a great chat along the way, whilst feeling a complete knob for giving him the wrong hotel directions!

Anyway, back to the hotel, dropped off, and then I made my way to the Racecourse for the do, had a good chat with Jonathan Legard who was hosting the evening, and began to relax, speaking to various supporters there on the night, and I'd decided that that's how I'd approach the evening, by catching up with many fans who I'd not had the chance to do a few weeks ago at the Club Awards evening.

It was a great night, with the CFU Player of the Year award going to Michael Wilde, the Away Travel Player of the Year going to George Horan, and the Best Dressed Award going to Gary Powell!!!

It was also great to see the Chairman of the Evo-Stik League along with the League Operations Manager attending the do to present Wildey with his Golden Boot Award, and with it a great speech by the Chairman who announced that we should never have been placed in that League, and that was greeted by an ovation by the Chester fans at the venue.

Courtney Clare - a star in the making!
Then we were tresated to a rendition of Danny Boy from the talented Courtney Clare, another reason why Daryl had brought the family over with him. Little Courtney has already wowed many with her singing, and the Pavillion Suite was certainly brought to a halt to listen to the 8 year old sing, and what a reception she got at the end of her song, a standing ovation!

Another song was to follow, and we really believe that she could go far, although I'm not sure where that voice came from, it certainly didn't come from her dad, although I joked with him the other day that he should get up and sing at the next do!

The rest of the evening saw a great quiz, where Michael Wilde showed us an impression of Iain Howard, and George Horan did the same for Carl Ruffer!

Then we had an amazing auction that saw Trevor Storton's shirt being auctioned for over £500 - amazing, and the very first yellow away kit for next season being bought for £210 - nice one Chris!

That topped off the evening, and I had to head home at that point, but the following morning was amazing too, and having got up early made my way down to the Exacta Stadium for the start of the bus tour. We were expecting the players to pack out the top of the bus, but a few late withdrawals meant that there were a few spaces left, so I took my place at the back of the bus, and when we got going from the Stadium, we passed a handful of people down Bumpers Lane, whilst the police then raced off to the traffic lights to stop the traffic, and let the bus make its way round onto Sealand Road - I think we were all rather cautious as the bus turned a corner, holding on tight!!

Mind the Bridge!
The bus eventually made its way up Canal Street which saw the first real load of fans waiting for us with flags, before we then turned on to Northgate Street to see the bridge above packed with people taking photos, and then passing that we then saw the crowds in the distance - we'd all wondered if it would be a half decent turnout, but I think its fair to say we were all left gobsmacked when we saw just how many people had made their way to the Town Hall - we felt like a Premier League team that had just won the title, or the FA Cup, as all you could see was a swarm of blue and white everywhere!

What a great sight!
The bus bypassed the Town Hall, before embarking on a trip down Werburgh Street, and one lady heading out of her workplace for an early brekky it would seem, shouted "Not being funny but who are ya?" in a big scouse accent, I shouted back "We're Chester!" with arms open wide. She then responded, "Ah, I'm not from round here", to which I sarcastically shouted back "You can tell!" given the strong accent, and lack of knowledge about the club!

Anyway, heading round Eastgate Row you could see the tourists thinking WTF?? But it was great that on Races Day we could give the City something different to celebrate, and when we made our way back up the cobbles on Northgate Street, people were hanging out of windows above shops to greet us, all that was missing was the ticker tape!!!

I'd been filming most of this as it was something I wanted to keep forever, and so glad I did, as it gave the different angle of the bus tour from the top deck, rather than the countless many videos taken from within the crowds.

The bus came to a halt and the players were quite rightly given a magnificent welcome by the crowd, and a few interviews were carried out - whilst I took the opportunity of grabbing the trophy and thrusting it in the air in celebration - have it!!!

So, in to the reception we went inside the town hall, where a couple of nice speeches were given by the Mayoress and also Mike Jones, and it really hammered home just how much we'd pleased the community with the efforts on and off the pitch this season and long may it continue.

The morning ended with the though, bugger I've got to get back to the Exacta now to pick the car up, and so I took the No 10A to Connahs Quay via Sealand Road, not quite as glamorous as being on the top of the bus, but a great chance to reflect on what had been an amazing day in the growing history of Chester Football Club!

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