Thursday, 14 July 2011

Football's back at the Exacta!

After what seems an eternity, football eventually re-appeared at the Exacta Stadium on Tuesday night with a visit from an extremely strong Tranmere Rovers side.

Exacta looking good again
It was great to get back in to the swing of things, although with all the planning and meetings taken place in the summer so far, it doesn't actually feel like we've stopped or had a break, but everyone - including me - felt the excitement of seeing the lads and in particular the new signings, on the lavish green grass at the Exacta.

They didn't let us down either with a good performance that saw them take the game to Rovers, remembering that Tranmere were four leagues higher than us, and what a goal from Wes Baynes to clinch the win...stunning!

The preparations for pre-season have been going on for a while of course, and we have been trying to secure a pre-season friendly against Premier League opposition, but so far have been unsuccessful with most as they just don't seem to be able to fit us in to their hectic schedules - talks are still ongoing with a couple of them, but they may not come off this year, there is still a small possibility of it happening though, so I won't write it off completely.

We have of course got many home games in our pre-season line up and that will of course benefit the players - in particular the new lads - as they'll be able to get used to match conditions on the fantastic surface at the Exacta, again great credit to Gary Kent & CDHT for helping out there - it certainly looked good the other night.

BiG Lupus - a bit hot!
Off the field we've been very busy still at the club, and appearances at various fetes and events such as Chester Events, Blacon/Hapsford/Lache fetes, and many more to come - all promoting the Club and City Fans United/Junior Blues - it's all very important to keep that up - although I think BiG Lupus may have shed several stones in the last few weeks with the heat, in fact I think he may go onto the opposite of the Atkins Diet to build him up a little bit again!

It was great to see Andy Donaldson & BiG Storage sponsoring BiG Lupus again, Andy has certainly put his money where his mouth is since we reformed, and is a great credit to the Chester Business Community.

There have been a few changes around too based on fans comments, we have taken on board suggestions to have beer available inside the ground during matches, and we were hoping to start trialling that on Tuesday against Tranmere, but thanks to a delivery that never turned up, we were unable to start it, but it should be fine for the match against Fleetwood on the 23rd, which incidentally is our Chester FC Community Day, in which we hope to have the Army, Fire & Rescue, Police, and the North West Ambulance Service amongst others exhibiting in the Car Park, whilst there will be the chance to have a go at the Soccer Speed Shot, something to test your footie skills out on, and also the Chester FC Youth will be giving you the chance to take part in a penalty shoot out before you head into the Exacta. It all gets underway at 10am on the 23rd.

So, back to Tuesday, and I must admit it felt good putting the blue & white tie on again, the first time since the Town Hall celebration at the back end of May, but here we go again, maybe the start of another memorable season - let's hope so.

Can you hear me Cleggy?
The plan for the match day entertainment is always low key on the pre-season friendlies, and all we had planned for the half time sequence was the draw for 2 tickets to the Manor House Stables Box at Chester Racecourse, and that was going to be drawn by Tom Dascombe, successful trainer, but there was no plan for me to even talk at half time, but just as I was leaving the house I got a phone call from Jim Harvey asking if he could bring along 2 former Chester City players to the game, so naturally I said if we can get them on the pitch for a quick interview then yes!

And so, they did - to their credit, they looked as nervous as hell, so I kept the questions brief, as I said I wasn't planning to speak at all, but that all changed!

The sound system has long been a bug bear, and there were plenty of faults with it pre match - largely due to the fact that there had been so many Community games played in May, and plenty will I'm sure have fiddled with sound level buttons, which left Cleggy all over the place when he opened up, and plenty of microphone screeches, so for anyone blaming him, please think again, it really wasn't his fault!

What made it even harder for him was the fact that a team sheet had been provided, but when the substitutes were being made, the numbers didn't correspond with the actual players, and some didn't even have a number at all, which as you can imagine threw him into total confusion, as it would with anyone else, we were talking whilst one sub was taking place, and I jokingly suggested that we should get the Tranmere fans to sing the name of the player coming on, thankfully we didn't do that!

Although when the Chester substitution happened, and he changed the name about five times, I went in to the PA room and gave him the Alan Sugar look, and said, "Cleggy, it's with regret, you're fired!" - all jokingly of course, as the job he does is very good, and not just about talking in that room, he gets a lot of requests thrown at him in a short space of time, plus it's boiling in that little room!

So back to the game again, and I thought we did well in the first half, more than matching Tranmere, and putting some good moves together, and particularly liked the free kick that caught them cold, but sadly Powelly couldn't get it past their keeper, and the chance had gone.

Wildey was doing his usual role in shrugging off the defenders and making his way into the box and was unlucky not to score, but score was something Wes Baynes did, and what a way to score too, picking up a loose ball from 25 yards out before hammering one into the top corner, a great way to introduce yourself to the Chester fans, and especially after coming to the Blues from the dark side too, perfect way to start.

Tranmere had a couple of chance but bar the late flurry you always felt that we were in control of the game, and when the final whistle went, Les Parry came up to wish us all well, fair play he's a nice bloke, and of course was the first person to agree to a friendly last season when I was with him on Colin Murray's live show in Liverpool University.

Following the match, there were a few jobs to do, and great to see the Lounge was full of potential sponsors for next season, and a very successful night was had up there and many put themselves down for match sponsorship for the new season, and I'm sure Pat will reveal just how much in Saturday's programme, but there was certainly a large smile on his face!

Well that will do it for now, as got to get ready for work, but just time to refer to a nice little piece in the latest issue of When Saturday Comes, where they have a feature of fan owned clubs, and a nice picture of the open top bus in May.

More good publicity!

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