Mar 17 2011 by Paul Wheelock, Chester Chronicle
Chester FC: Fans put smile on face of returning hero Eddie Bishop
HE will go down as a player who never failed to make Blues fans smile – but the roles were reversed on Saturday when Eddie Bishop made an emotional return to the Exacta Stadium.
You could not wipe the grin off the legendary Chester City midfielder’s face as he got his first glimpse of the strides the supporter-owned Chester FC have made since rising from the ashes of his former club.
Bishop said: “I half expected to be coming back to a rickety, tin-pot place, but it’s absolutely out of this world.
“So hats off to everyone who was involved in making sure the club was reborn – it’s absolutely first class.”
Bishop, a never-say-die midfielder with an eye for goal, enjoyed six happy years at City after Harry McNally paid a then club record fee of £90,000 to sign him from Tranmere Rovers in December 1990.
But Saturday’s match against Witton Albion – a club he went on to play for and manage – was the first time the Liverpudlian had been back on his old stomping ground since leaving Northwich Victoria 15 years ago.
Bishop, who made 141 appearances and scored 30 goals for the Blues, said: “I really enjoyed my time at the club. There were good times and there were bad times. We had a promotion, a relegation and some big cup games against the likes of Tottenham and Sunderland.
“I’ve got many fond memories. The fans were fantastic and we had some real characters – no bigger than Harry himself. People always ask me for Harry stories – and I tell them I’ve got many, but I can only tell them privately!”
Bishop, older brother of famous Liverpool comedian John Bishop, started out in non-league with Winsford United, Northwich, Altrincham and Runcorn before Tranmere handed him his first pro contract at the age of 26.
Bishop, the first Chester player to score a competitive goal at the Deva – now Exacta – Stadium, believes Blues fans will enjoy their climb back up toward the Football League.
He said: “As the club continues to climb the pyramid, some people may think being in the Evo-Stik League were the dark days – but I don’t think they will. This is a nice time.
“Although the club is way down the pyramid, this is the rebirth of something that was once great. You can feel the excitement and enthusiasm when you walk through the door – it just hits you.”
Bitten by the Chester FC bug, Bishop will do everything he can to see Neil Young’s side in action again before the season ends. But time is a precious commodity for the Runcorn-based 49-year-old.
Not only does he run a wrought iron business, the talented artist is also two years into a degree studying Fine Art at the University of Bolton.
Bishop said: “Life takes you in different directions and you get involved in different things, but I’ve been excited about coming back to Chester.
“It’s nice to be remembered and be part of a great football club. I’m quite humbled by it.”