- Chester City F.C.
Chester City Full name Chester City Football Club Nickname(s) The Seals/The Blues Founded 1885 (as Chester F.C.) Dissolved 2010 Ground Deva Stadium, Chester
(Capacity: 5,328 (3,929 seated))Home coloursAway colours
Chester City Football Club was an English football team from Chester. The club was founded as Chester F.C., and joined the Football League in 1931, spending most of their time in the lower divisions. They changed their name to Chester City in 1983. Chester won their first league title in 2004, the Conference National. Chester played their home games at the Deva Stadium. The ground and stands are geographically inside Wales with just the club offices situated in England. Until 1990, the club played at Sealand Road.
Following repeated financial problems during the 2009–10 season, which also affected many of their fixtures, the club was served with a winding-up order by HM Revenue & Customs in January 2010. The club was put up for sale, suspended from the Conference National for breaches of league rules, and later expelled from the league in February 2010. The club's league results for the season were expunged and the club, after attempting to join the Welsh Premier League, was formally wound up in March 2010. Shortly after, a successor club was formed who will play in the Northern Premier League Division One North for their first season and play their home games at the Deva Stadium.
- 1 History
- 2 Colours and badge
- 3 Reserve and youth teams
- 4 Rivals
- 5 Famous fans
- 6 Player records
- 7 Honours
- 8 Former managers
- 9 International players
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Formation and early years
Chester F.C. was founded in 1885 as an amalgamation of Chester Rovers and Old King's Scholars F.C. and initially played their home games at Faulkner Street.
After a few years of playing only friendly and occasional cup matches, Chester joined The Combination League in 1890. In 1898 the club moved to The Old Showground, but were forced to leave a year later when the ground was destroyed to make way for housing, leaving the club temporarily disbanded. In 1901, however, they moved to Whipcord Lane, again their stay was only brief, as they moved out in 1906. Their new stadium on Sealand Road, called simply The Stadium became their first long-term home and provided them with their first league success, as they won the Combination League in 1909. In 1910, Chester moved to the Lancashire Combination League and stayed there until after World War I, when they became founder members of the Cheshire County League. Charlie Hewitt was appointed manager in 1930, and in 1931 he guided Chester City to the Football League, in place of Nelson F.C..
1930s to 1970s
Throughout the 1930s Chester never finished outside of the top ten in Division Three North. During this period Chester recorded their biggest win in the FA Cup, beating Fulham 5–0 in 1933, and in 1936, they recorded their highest league victory; beating York City 12–0.
The period also saw Chester win the Welsh Cup for the second time after beating growing rivals Wrexham at Sealand Road in May 1933 and successive Football League Division Three North Cup wins. Unfortunately, the side was to be split up by the outbreak of the Second World War. Although the 1946–47 brought a third place finish and another Welsh Cup triumph, grim times lay ahead. No top half placings would be achieved until the lower divisions were merged in 1958, when Chester were placed in Division Four. They would still have to wait another six years until they finished above halfway in a league table.
Chester's fortunes began to take a turn for the better after the surprise appointment of South African Peter Hauser as manager in 1963 who put Chester in contention for promotion from Division Four. In 1964–65 all five forwards managed 20 goals - a unique achievement - as Chester scored 119 in Football League games alone, though they missed out on promotion.
Apart from missing out on promotion by just a point in 1970–71 the next few years were largely uneventful. Chester kicked off the 1974–75 season as the only Football League team to have never won promotion — they finally broke their duck by finishing fourth in Division Four and pipping Lincoln City to promotion by the narrowest of goal averages. Ken Roberts had the honour of being the first Chester manager to win promotion in the Football League, although much credit went to inspirational coach Brian Green.
That season also saw Chester reach the Football League Cup semi-finals. After beating Walsall, Blackpool and Preston North End, Chester hosted Football League champions Leeds United in round four. Two goals from John James and one from Trevor Storton gave Chester a 3–0 win that is regarded as one of the greatest shocks in the competition's history. In the next round a goal from James meant Newcastle United were defeated in a home replay to set up a semi–final tie with Aston Villa. Brian Little's late goal in the second leg at Villa Park sealed a 5–4 win for eventual cup winners Villa.
Chester began to consolidate their position in the Third Division and enjoyed runs to the FA Cup fifth round in both 1976–77 and 1979–80 under former Manchester City midfielder Alan Oakes. They achieved their best position since the lower divisions were re-organised in the late 1950s by finishing fifth in 1978, missing out on promotion (in the pre play-off era) by just two points. Chester were also one of just two sides to win the short-lived Debenhams Cup, a competition competed for by the two sides from outside the top two divisions to go farthest in the FA Cup. They beat Port Vale 4–3 on aggregate in 1977 to win their first English national trophy. Chester also continued their giantkilling exploits by knocking First Division Coventry City out of the League Cup in 1978–79 and Second Division leaders Newcastle United from the FA Cup a year later. One of the goalscorers was homegrown teenager Ian Rush, who would move for £300,000 to Liverpool at the end of the season and go on to be one of the most famous British strikers in history.
After Rush departed the goals dried up for Chester and they were back in the basement by 1982. Two years later they finished bottom of the entire Football League but were comfortably re-elected. By this point the club was known as Chester City, having added the suffix in 1983. A future star playing for Chester during this period was full back Lee Dixon, who went on to win several major honours with Arsenal and was capped 22 times by England.
Thanks to the signing of players including Milton Graham, John Kelly and Stuart Rimmer, and astute management of Harry McNally, Chester returned to the Third Division in 1986. Three years later they narrowly missed out on a play-off spot as McNally worked miracles on a limited budget, but further bad times lay ahead. In 1990, Chester were moved out of their Sealand Road home and temporarily shared Macclesfield's Moss Rose ground. Despite regularly attracting tiny crowds, Chester defied the odds to avoid relegation from Division Three in both 1990–91 and 1991–92. They returned to the city, the new brand new Deva Stadium in 1992 in the re-named Division Two after a Football League restructure. The first competitive match at the Deva Stadium took place on 25 August 1992 against Stockport County, with the visitors running out 2–1 victors. The following Saturday saw the first League game at the new home of Chester City, which saw the Blues overcome Burnley 3–0. The Deva Stadium is notable for crossing the England-Wales border: while most of the pitch is in Wales, the main stand, a quarter of the pitch and club offices are in England.
Chester suffered a landslide relegation in their first season back in Chester, before winning promotion straight back as Division Three runners-up. The unexpected resignation of manager Graham Barrow and the departure of several key players in the close-season of 1994 left Chester with a threadbare squad, and they were comfortably relegated back to Division Three in 1995. They would stay there for five years, suffering a play-off semi-final defeat to Swansea City in 1997.
Repeated financial problems
Under owner Mark Guterman, Chester entered Administration in October 1998. The club consolidated their position in Third Division under Kevin Ratcliffe in 1998–99 and were bought by the American Terry Smith in July 1999. Ratcliffe resigned the following month and Smith took over as manager, overseeing just four league wins in as many months in charge. Ian Atkins was brought in as manager, but Chester lost their 69-year long Football League status on 6 May 2000 on goal difference after losing to Peterborough United.
The first season in the Football Conference saw Chester finish 8th, but the campaign was overshadowed by continuing off-field problems. By the summer of 2001, Chester were in grave danger of going out of business and the appointment of the owner's friend Gordon Hill as manager was deeply unpopular with fans. The arrival of new chairman Stephen Vaughan in September 2001 saw Mark Wright appointed as manager and Chester avoided relegation in 2002. A year later they qualified for the Conference play-offs, but missed out on promotion by losing a penalty shoot out to Doncaster Rovers.
Starting the 2003–04 season as favourites to win the Football Conference, Chester suffered just four defeats during the campaign, winning the title and promotion back to the Football League with a 1–0 victory over Scarborough in the penultimate match of the season. It was the club's first national league title. The day before the start of the 2004–05 season Mark Wright resigned. Ray Mathias was left as the caretaker charge and by the end of August, Chester were bottom of the League. New manager, Ian Rush, helped the club avoid relegation, but was criticised by opposing managers for using "long ball" tactics.
In April 2005, Keith Curle took over. A series of poor results saw Chester fall from fourth to bottom in Football League Two. Mark Wright surprisingly returned to the club and a run of five successive wins late in the season secured another campaign in the Football League. The 2006–07 season was most notable for the club's reinstatement in the FA Cup after Bury, who had beaten Chester 3–1 in a second round replay, were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player, Stephen Turnbull. Wright was sacked in April 2007, being replaced by Scotsman Bobby Williamson. Williamson was sacked as manager in March 2008, after Chester had won only one of their last fourteen games. Club coach Simon Davies replaced him after a spell as caretaker manager. Survival was clinched in the penultimate game of the season after a 0–0 draw with Stockport County. They ended their season at 22nd, their lowest position at the time since returning to the Football League in 2004-05.
A poor start to 2008–09 saw Davies sacked in November 2008 with the club out of all cup competitions and struggling in the league table. Mark Wright returned for his third spell as manager on a non-contract basis. Beset by an ongoing transfer embargo, Chester continued to struggle throughout the remainder of the campaign, and a 2–1 home defeat by Darlington on the final day of the season sealed Chester's demise and a return to non-league football after five years back in The Football League. Two weeks after the final match the club entered administration.
The following month, creditors voted in favour of a rescue package by Stephen Vaughan's family, ahead of the Football Conference board's AGM where the club was accepted into the Conference National with a 10 point deduction. He was replaced as manager by Mick Wadsworth.
In the summer of 2009 Chester City was placed into the hands of administrators with debts of £7m, inclusive of Stephen Vaughan's £5.5m investments, which incurred a 10 point penalty. This in turn was increased to a 25 point penalty after further financial irregularities came to light. A potential buyer emerged over the summer, when local fan Mike Green sought to create a consortium with northern businessman Andy Jinks. However, any potential deal fell through due to Jinks's commitment issues. A new buyer was found for the club on 26 May 2009 in the shape of Chester City FC (2004) Ltd, a company set up by former chairman Stephen Vaughan and his family. The Football Association withheld the transfer of the affiliation membership from Chester City Football Club to Chester City Football Club 2004 Ltd, and on the eve of the new season stopped Chester City FC playing the first game of the 2009/2010 season away at Grays Athletic. This came less than 24 hours after the Football Conference released an "interim" press release stating Chester could take their place in the fifth tier of English football. The club reluctantly cut back on the Centre of Excellence youth training scheme by retaining only their youth team. Fans waited at the Deva Stadium for a meeting with Stephen Vaughan and other board representatives to find out the truth regarding the future  and showed their support for the club by meeting in the city at the time that they should be kicking off the new season.
Chester City FC released a press release on Monday 10 August 2009 describing the meetings that took place between the club, FA and Football Conference regarding the transfer of the FA membership at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season. They confirmed that the home match versus Gateshead FC had also been called off by the Football Conference, and that the FA had asked the other clubs to vote on whether Chester City should be allowed to continue in the division. The press release ended: We have now been informed that we must again await an FA decision which will be taken at some time on Thursday [13 August 2009] and can do no more than publicly express our ever increasing frustration with the entire process. The FA granted the transfer of membership to Chester City Football Club 2004 Ltd at 16:00hrs on Thursday 13 August 2009.
On the pitch, Mick Wadsworth was sacked after a bad start to the season, during which he branded the club's atmosphere even worse than that of the original Gretna F.C., which he had managed during the club's final months of existence. Jim Harvey replaced Wadsworth and managed an immediate upturn in form, which gave fans some slim hope that the club might still survive in the Conference National. However, dwindling attendances, a pitch protest and continued financial problems meant that the playing squad was gradually released to cut the wage bill though, and Chester's improved form did not last. Harvey was himself sacked in January 2010 by Morrell Maison, the club's new director of football, who then installed himself as the new manager. He oversaw what was arguably the club's lowest moment when just 518 people turned up to see the team beaten 1-0 by lower-league Fleetwood Town in the FA Trophy. By this point Chester were well adrift at the bottom of the table, and results did not improve. What proved to be the club's final match was a 2-1 home defeat against Ebbsfleet United.
On 9 February 2010, Chester City failed to fulfill a fixture at Forest Green Rovers. It was reported by the BBC that the players refused to get on the team bus and that the players had also threatened twice to strike following non payment of wages. Three days later the Football Conference suspended Chester from the league for a period of seven days, during which their fixtures were suspended.
The suspension was to allow them to put their finances in order and respond to the charge of breaking five separate Conference rules. The breaches include the abandoned game against Forest Green and the cancelling of a game due to an unpaid police bill. At a meeting of the Football Conference board on 18 February 2010, it was recommended that Chester be expelled from the league because the members of the board "failed to be convinced" that the club would fulfill its fixtures. The decision ultimately rested with the other member clubs. An independent valuation at the time valued the club at just £1 (although any prospective buyers would have to pay off the enormous debt the Vaughan family generated).
At this point Chester remained anchored to the bottom of the Conference National on minus three points. The club was expelled following a vote at a general meeting between the member clubs of the league on 26 February 2010 at Nene Park. The results for the season so far were expunged from the record. The club was wound up on 10 March 2010, and announced that they were looking to reform in the lower pyramids of the English football hierarchy, with a supporters spokesman claiming the club would play football once again in the pre-season.
Colours and badge
Chester's original home colours
Chester's original colours were red and white, and these colours were used until the club temporarily disbanded in 1899. The colours were changed to green and white, in 1901 when the club moved to Whipcord Lane. Various combinations were used until, the outbreak of World War I, these included green shirts and white shorts, green and white stripes and green and white halves. In 1919 the colours changed again, with their new dark green shirts earning Chester the nickname the Ivies. 1920 saw another change of colours, this time to black and white, which earned Chester the nickname Magpies. Black and White remained the colours until 1930, when they were changed to blue and white stripes. For the next thirty years the colours remained unchanged, with the exception of the 1952–53 season, when Chester adopted white shirts and black shorts.
The colours were changed yet again in the 1959–60 season, when it became green shirts and socks with gold trim and white shorts. 1962 saw Chester revert to blue and white stripes, albeit with a much thinner blue stripe, and blue shorts instead of the previously used black shorts. The 1968–69 season saw Chester change to an all sky blue kit, which remained for four years. In the 1972–73 season the club again reverted to blue and white stripes, and in 1974 the seals badge appeared on the kit for the first time. A shirt sponsorship first appeared on Chester's kit in the 1982–83 season. The blue and white and seals badge disappeared in the 1983–84 season, as the re -named Chester City F.C. changed to blue shirts and white shorts. The shirt became predominately blue in the 1988–89 season for the final season at Sealand Road. The first season at the Deva Stadium saw the colours change a blue shirt with white speckles. The colours returned to blue and white stripes the following season. From 1995, the club appeared in blue and white stripes of varying thickness and shades.
In the 1958–59 season the city's coat of arms was augmented onto the shirt. During the early to mid 1960s, the supporters association badge was used. From 1974–75 to 1982–83, the club used the seals badge. The design was picked from a competition held by a local newspaper, with the winner coming from the school of art in Handbridge. The club's final crest was an adaptation of the City of Chester crest.
Shirt sponsors and manufacturers
Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor 1976–83 Umbro None 1979–82 Barratt 1982–83 OkOK 1983–84 Bukta Chester Engineering 1984–89 Hobott None 1986–87 Chester Motor Auctions 1987–1991 Greenall's 1989–92 Ribero 1991–92 Trident Metals 1992–95 En-s Corbett's 1995–96 Le Coq Sportif 1996–97 Saunder's Honda 1997–98 Errea 1998–2000 Super League 2000–01 Socca Gap 2001–02 Vilma Red Square 2002–04 Pentagon 2004–05 Prostar truetone 2005–08 Nike UK Sameday & Sekur Mortgages 2008–09 Prostar Cestrian Trading & ASH Waste Services 2009–10 Vandanel Anderson & Co. Solicitors
Reserve and youth teams
Chester's reserve team played in the Central League Division One West until 2007–08 but have since only staged friendly matches.
The club's youth set-up was enjoying its most fruitful spell since the late 1990s, with several products having graduated to the senior tanks. The youth team competed in the Youth Alliance North West Conference, while they were hoping to emulate their achievements in 2006–07 of reaching the FA Youth Cup fourth round, when they surprisingly knocked out Tottenham Hotspur.
The club operated a women's team since 1994, having reasonable amounts of success and also has supporters' teams representing it against fans of other clubs.
Chester's Centre of Excellence was officially closed down at the start of the 2009–2010 season, due to the club's relegation to the Conference National, although most players remained at the club, with several, such as James Owen, Jack Rea and Lloyd Ellams making the breakthrough to the senior side.
Chester had a long-running rivalry with Wrexham. The clubs were just 12 miles apart but were English and Welsh respectively. Wrexham edged the English-Welsh derby with 30 victories against Chester's 26 in Football League meetings. Between 1986 and 2005, the sides were in the same division in just one season (1994–95) but they were then Football League Two opponents in the three campaigns from 2005–06 to 2007–08. In 2009–10 the sides clashed again in the Conference National after Chester followed Wrexham out of the Football League, resulting in a 0-0 draw before the club was recently dissolved.
Tranmere Rovers and Crewe Alexandra were traditionally strong rivals but Chester had not met either in a league game since the early 1990s. In recent times, a growing rivalry developed between Chester and Shrewsbury Town, following a series of controversial meetings. In November 2006, a large brawl broke out between players of both sides at the end of Chester's 2–1 defeat at Gay Meadow.
Macclesfield Town were county rivals with Chester.
One of the best known individuals to profess to being a follower of Chester is BBC Formula One commentator Jonathan Legard, who has supported the club since the early 1970s. His BBC Sport colleague Charles Lambert is also a long-standing fan of the club, and has been heavily involved in the formation of the fans group City Fans United
Until his death in 2008, actor Hugh Lloyd retained a loyal support for the club despite his advancing years and being exiled in southern England. Comedian Bob Mills grew up watching Chester before moving away from the area and supporting Leyton Orient, with his uncle Eric Lee having made the fourth most appearances in The Football League for City.
Most Football League appearances # Name Years Apps Goals 1 Ray Gill 1951–1962 406 3 2 Ron Hughes 1951–1962 399 21 3 Trevor Storton 1974–1984 396 17 4 Eric Lee 1946–1957 363 10 5 Stuart Rimmer 1985–1988; 1991–1998 361 135 6 Derek Draper 1968–1977 322 54 7 Billy Stewart 1986–1994; 1995–1996 317 0 8 Tommy Astbury 1946–1955 303 38 9 Nigel Edwards 1968–1978; 1982–1983 299 16 10= Graham Abel 1985–1993 296 30 10= Billy Foulkes 1948–1952; 1956–1961 296 37 Most Football League goals # Name Years Apps Goals 1 Stuart Rimmer 1985–1988; 1991–1998 361 135 2 Gary Talbot 1963–1967; 1968–1968 154 83 3 Frank Wrightson 1935–1938 89 73 4 Elfed Morris 1963–1968 167 69 5 Mike Metcalf 1963–1968 221 68 6 Cam Burgess 1948–1951 111 64 7= Gary Bennett 1985–1988; 1990–1992; 1997–1999 254 63 7= Joe Mantle 1932–1935 74 63 9 Frank Cresswell 1931–1934; 1935–1938 173 57 10 Derek Draper 1968–1977 322 54
Other player records
- Most league goals in a season - 36 Dick Yates (1946–47)
- Record signing - £150,000 Kevin Ellison (2007)
- Record sale - £300,000 Ian Rush (1980)
- Most consecutive league appearances - 133 John Danby (2006–2009)
- Oldest league appearance - 40 yrs, 101 days Stan Pearson (April 1959)
- Youngest league appearance - 15 yrs, 350 days Aidan Newhouse (May 1988)
- Most capped player - 35 Angus Eve, Trinidad & Tobago; (home nations) - 13 Billy Lewis, Wales
- Football League Division 3 North
- Runners-up (1): 1935–36
- Football League Division 3 (now League 2)
- Runners-up (1): 1993–94
- Football League Division 4 (now League 2)
- Runners-up (1): 1985–86
- Football Conference
- Winners (1): 2003–04
- Cheshire County League
- Winners (3): 1921–22, 1925–26, 1926–27
- Runners-up (1): 1930–31
- The Combination
- Winners (1): 1908–09
- Runners-up (5): 1903–04, 1904–05, 1905–06, 1906–07, 1907–08
- Welsh Cup
- Winners (3): 1908, 1933, 1947
- Runners-up (10): 1909, 1910, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1966, 1970
- Debenhams Cup
- Winners (1): 1977
- Division 3N Cup
- Winners (2): 1936, 1937
- Runners-up (1): 1946
- Bob Lord Trophy
- Winners (1): 2001
- Conference Championship Shield
- Runners-up (1): 2001–02
Since 1930 Year Name 1930–36 Charlie Hewitt 1936 Harry Mansley
1936–38 Alex Raisbeck 1938–53 Frank Brown 1953–56 Louis Page 1956–59 John Harris 1959–61 Stan Pearson 1962–63 Bill Lambton 1963–68 Peter Hauser 1968–76 Ken Roberts 1976–82 Alan Oakes 1982 Cliff Sear 1982–83 John Sainty 1983–84 Trevor Storton
1984 Cliff Sear
1984 John McGrath 1984–85 Mick Speight 1985–92 Harry McNally 1992–94 Graham Barrow 1994–95 Mike Pejic 1995 Derek Mann 1995–99 Kevin Ratcliffe 1999–2000 Terry Smith 2000 Ian Atkins 2000–01 Graham Barrow 2001 Gordon Hill 2001 Steve Mungall 2001–02 Dean Spink
2002–04 Mark Wright 2004 Ray Mathias
2004–05 Ian Rush 2005 Dave Bell
2005–06 Keith Curle 2006–07 Mark Wright 2007 Simon Davies
2007–08 Bobby Williamson 2008 Simon Davies 2008–2009 Mark Wright 2009 Mick Wadsworth 2009 Tim Ryan
2009–2010 Jim Harvey 2010 Morell Maison
Appearances and goals Years Nationality Name Apps Goals 1887–1892 Sam Jones
- - 1888–1891 Robert Lee Roberts
- - 1889–1891
- - 1892–1898 Billy Lewis
- - 1907–1914 Billy Matthews
- - 1938–1955 Tommy Astbury
303 38 1948–1951
118 14 1957–1959 Stan Pearson
57 16 1961–1964 Peter Fitzgerald
(Republic of Ireland International)
80 12 1978–1980 Ian Rush
34 18 1984–1985 Lee Dixon
57 1 1986–1996 Billy Stewart
(England Semi-Pro International)
317 0 1991-1993 Arthur Albiston
68 10 1995–1996 Cyrille Regis
29 7 1999–2000 Angus Eve
(Trinidad and Tobago International)
14 0 2006 Derek Asamoah
17 8 2006-2007 Roberto Martínez
(Wigan Athletic coach)
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- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "A look back at City's colours". chester-city.co.uk. 2007-09-16. http://www.chester-city.co.uk/club_colours.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-16.
- ^ a b c "The club's crests". chester-city.co.uk. 2007-09-18. http://www.chester-city.co.uk/crest.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-18.
- ^ "Shrewsbury & Chester fined by FA". BBC Sport. 2007-02-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_3/6323481.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- ^ "Former Chester man Jonathan Legard revs up for big challenge in BBC One commentary box". Chester Chronicle. 2009-03-26. http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/chester-sport/other-sports/2009/03/26/formula-one-former-chester-man-jonathan-legard-revs-up-for-big-challenge-in-bbc-one-commentary-box-59067-23233717/. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- ^ "Blues View Special - Charlie Lambert interviewed". Chester City Mad. 2004-09-17. http://www.chestercity-mad.co.uk/news/loadfeat.asp?cid=EDY6&id=177847. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- ^ "Chester born comedy star Hugh Lloyd dies". Chester Chronicle. 2008-07-15. http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/chester-news/chester-breaking-news/2008/07/15/chester-born-comedy-star-hugh-lloyd-dies-59067-21343109/. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- ^ 'Bob Mills', Leyton Orient vs. Chester City matchday programme, 23/4/05, pg.49
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