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!