Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Chester FC on Radio 1 - Who would've thought it?

Yes, I never really thought I'd see Chester FC & Radio 1 in the same sentence, but yesterday that actually happened, when an out of the blue (no pun intended) call came through from the Radio 1 Newsbeat team, who were looking to do a feature about the situation in football at present, notably at Portsmouth & Rangers, and wanted to see how a club can cope with going under, and if there is any way back.

We have displayed at Chester FC that there is life after death, and that hope is never lost, despite having to go through what was a cruel, cruel death thanks to to one family's work, some may say we're better for it now, to be where we are now, although I would never agree with the sentiment 'It's the best thing to ever happen to us' - as I don't believe it was, if a person dies having been in pain, you wouldn't often say that it was 'the bets thing that ever happened to them' - you'd probably say that they were now in a better place - and that's the way I see things.

March 10th 2010, was one of the hardest days to bear, knowing that our club would be wound up in the High Court, left a very bitter taste in the mouth with how Chester City FC had been destroyed, without any chance of saving it. Some fans from 12 miles up the road say how we let the club die unlike them when they put their money in to save the club - well it was a completely different situation.

At Chester, the fact was that Vaughan wanted £750,000 - a little different than the £150k raised by Wrexham fans - there was no way he was going to see that back, no way at all. I even remember the argument I had with him over the phone at work on my lunch - stood up at my desk, for a solid hour, with him telling me that he deserved this money and that we could have the club as long as we took on the debt, which was mainly a claim of loans from himself.

The Club was in a mess, and as we know, one that it would fail to recover from in the form of Chester City, and on March 10th, the message came through that it had gone, and for a moment a pause then the thought of 'this is it, this is where it all begins for real' and the process of building the club up again would start that very day, that Wednesday, in March.

Of course a lot of work had already been done in the background, with the thought 'Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst' in mind - it had served us well to do just that, and from that moment on we never looked back, and have always tried to do the right thing - I say tried, as not everyone agrees with key decisions that are made, that's just human nature, if we all agreed it would be boring. One thing is for sure though, whatever steps we have taken to move the club forward have done just that, and we plough on trying to get back to the promised land of the football league.

A good debate is where we'll think we have got back to where the club was when CCFC died that painful death. Is it when we get back to the Blue Square Prem, where the Club was sitting in minus points whilst the wreckage ensued all round it?

Would it be when we get to the Blue Square North, as CCFC would obviously have been relegated in that final season had it lasted, or would it be the league we're now fighting to escape from as the Conference would have more than likely kicked CCFC out of both of their leagues given the issues they were presented with, so it could have been that the league we're in now is where CCFC would be today had it continued, so it could be argued that we're now at where the Club left off.

The way I see it is that we just remain focused and get on with it, it won't feel like the first part of the job is done until we get to the BSP, which will hopefully be just around the corner, and I keep looking at the table to see just how tough the Conference North is, and Halifax, despite picking up recently, have started to endure a bit of a blip, now we all know about those of course, but I really hope that Halifax get promoted this year, as they are definitely one of the stronger teams in the Conference North, and it would be great for them to get back to the Conference too, given their history.

Jim Harvey's Stalybridge seem to have hit a stumbling block too, for a while it looked like it would be them & Hyde who would be fighting it out for promotion, but Hyde appear to have it half in the bag now/ I do fancy our chances in the Conference North though I have to say, but let's just get there first, hopefully we won't see a repeat of last season where it went down to the last day - we have taken a really strong step forward recently, with results also going our way, so with an 8 point lead and a game in hand in the bag, hopefully we're in a stronger position this year, it certainly feels like it. We just need to see Northwich play a few games, and drop points along the way!!

Oh yes, back to Radio 1, never would I have thought that I'd be getting a call off them, we'll be on the Top 40 next - maybe The Jestrian's Neil Young rap will make it to the top of the charts!!

It's all good coverage though for the club, and hopefully it won't end there, I'm sure Football Focus will be getting an invite to come back to the Exacta again 12 months on from their last visit here, and I'll keep on trying, but hopefully one day Sky Sports Soccer Saturday will take a trip down here too, it seems ages ago since I did an interview by the river with them, so think I'll give them another reminder that we're still here - and doing well!

So, onto Saturday we go then and Frickley away, we were all cheering that equalizer on Saturday in their game against Hednesford, and they won't be easy either considering they took a point off us at the Exacta earlier on in the season, but hopefully the lads will give it their all and come back with 3 points!

Come on you Blues!!!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Back on the Promotion trail

I must admit, I've only just realised that I've not blogged since before Christmas, so to anyone reading this, hope you enjoyed your festive celebrations, and had a great New Year, seeing the Blues top of the League at Christmas and going into 2012 was all we wanted, and got!

Form has been a bit patchy for the Blues since that win at Marine, but the fact remains we are now three points clear of Hednesford, with 2 games in hand, and with the implosion at Northwich, Chorley & Marine seem as though they could be the challengers to the current top 2.

Powell gets a late Christmas card
That Northwich game was extremely frustrating, with the early goal and sending off meaning we should have won that match at a canter, but we failed to take our chances, and let Northwich back in it, and if we're being truthful the ref could and should perhaps of given Vics a penalty in the last minute - although it wasn't the first mistake of the day by him, having decided to let himself be overruled by an official who was furthest from the Michael Powell and John Disney incident - purely ridiculous that.

The turn of the year saw us then take on Nantwich at home, and revenge was in the air following the 4-1 defeat back in August, but Nantwich proved very stubborn, and a succession of missed chances meant that our first home game of the new year ended in a draw, just like it did back in 2011 against Warrington! The most amazing thing from the Nantwich game was the attendance, over 3500 were inside the Exacta, and I'd popped in to the Safety Room to ask if we were anywhere near the 3000 mark at about 2.50pm and was staggered to be told we were already over 3200 and people were still queueing outside!

The thoughts then turned to Rushall, where we all wondered how we'd fare against a team that have taken points from most of the teams at the top of the table this season, but those fears were dispelled as we set out on a major 4-0 win over our West Midland counterparts, and that was great to see, restoring some confidence perhaps lost in the Nantwich draw.

Maybe next year, Wembley.
Attentions then turned to the FA Trophy, and I think it's fair to say we were all gutted that we didn't get at least a draw against Ebbsfleet, as our performance certainly deserved that outcome, having had to travel so far, the lads pulled out the stops to try and get the replay, but that 3rd goal just wouldn't come, and the Wembley dream was left behind, with a possible envious glance back at Wembley Stadium by those travelling back on the train.

I definitely think we missed Powelly in the middle, and who knows maybe we would have got something had he not been missing that game.

Then the big game at home to Hednesford, and another great crowd, only 91 fans travelled from the Midlands, which was maybe disappointing, but seeing over 3200 Chester fans inside again was superb. As for the match, well that was another day of frustration, with rare slip ups at the back costing us the game, but I did feel that if we could have got back to 2-2 in that game then we would have gone on to win, but alas we didn't and we had to surrender our superb home run of 27 games without defeat.

eerily dark on a sunny day
Perhaps the most disappointing thing to deal with was the smashing of a window on the away supporters coach - there is no place for that kind of act at our Club, we have built Chester FC up with a family reputation, and that will continue. These people just don't realise the effect that this has on the Club, think back to the Colwyn Bay mess. We were trying to get various sponsorship deals for the Club, and they then see that there is trouble at our first friendly - that had so much impact on what we were trying to do, as potential sponsors will think that they do not want to be involved with bad news, and rightly so. But thanks to a great effort to pull sponsors back in, we succeeded in convincing them that Chester FC were a forward thinking club, with a strong community ethos, and I think the proof is in the pudding, but these idiots certainly don't think about the fact they are hurting the Club they claim to support.

Anyway, back to the football, and we were all left disappointed by the fact the Liverpool v Man Utd reserves match had fallen foul of the weather a couple of weeks ago, and there was an argument that the pitch covers should have been deployed, but in the end it really made no difference as the temperature plummeted once the sun disappeared beneath the West Stand, and ice started to appear on the pitch and by 6pm it was clear that the game would have been a ice-nightmare for the players involved, and we could have talking of the likes of Berbatov causing themselves a great injury, something which we would have not wanted, and clearly the ref decided the same. Who knows what kind of action these clubs could take if such an incident occurred.

That game will hopefully be replayed in April, and certainly Liverpool understood that we were beaten by the weather, and hopefully come April, we'll have better weather and a potentially bigger crowd.

The fact that we had another home game on the Saturday meant that we would take no chances on the Friday night, and we put the call out for fans to come down and help lay the pitch covers, and I think that it was the right decision to make as the cold snap certainly happened on the Friday night, and a quick call to arms again meant that the game went ahead, and what a start - 2 goals in the first 20 minutes, and I think its fair to say we were all expecting an avalanche of goals, but it really didn't happen, and after Mickleover scored their goal we sort of went into our shell a bit.

The plus point was the introduction of Stefan Cox who certainly had a lively looking debut, when he eventually got the ball, he then made life a misery for the full back, and when he swapped to the right wing, with Howard on the left, we looked to have a bit more balance, and Cox looked electric down the right, despite being a left winger!

My favourite shot from a cold crisp day at the Exacta
I recently took the opportunity to get some snaps of the Exacta Stadium, on a cold crisp day, and hopefully anyone reading this (is there anyone reading this bar me??) will like those photos, which I've included on here today.

On the media side recently, there has been plenty going on, just the other week myself & Pat visited the new BBC set up at Salford Quays, to meet one of Colin Murray's production team, and the place was very impressive, a very 'open' feel to it, with all staff having a decent view out of the windows, but also where people walking past can see in to their office, so you're pretty much on view here to anyone!

We're working together with Colin's team for something that we had hoped to announce this season, but things have just dragged on a little bit longer than what we'd hoped, but we will still definitely be doing something with Colin & co in the near future - the major plus is that he has been coming to our home games whenever possible, showing his support for the Blues.

The Jestrian has to be one of my favourite reads each day, even though I'm the butt of some of those made up names, Jar Jar Banks, Army Tanks, and Jaffie Bracks being some of those names, but I do love the humour of it, and its all a welcome break from the busy life that this 'media junkie' seems to have, even though I'm officially out of work at the moment!!

Looking ahead to today, well there is a stack of CFU stuff to be getting on with, so time to put a bit of man power to that, will blog again soon, and will attempt to not leave it over a month this time!

Come On You Blues!