BLUES supporter and Chester Chronicle reporter MARK DOWLING was at the Deva Stadium on Saturday covering a City match for the first time. It proved to be quite a baptism of fire.
THIS was my first visit to the Deva Stadium this season, having increasingly lapsed from fan to somewhere between boycotting and apathy over the past year. The last match I attended was against Bournemouth, and glumly watched as Chester City slumped out of the League.
Saturday’s game was also my first experience of sports reporting for The Chronicle, and proved to be quite a challenge, thanks to a group of supporters sending out their strongest message against the Vaughan family so far, via two pitch invasion protests and the abandonment of the match.
It’s easy to sympathise. From the heady heights of the Conference-winning season in 2004, the club has lurched from one crisis to the next in increasingly farcical scenarios, until the present grim reality, where City’s existence hangs in the balance on a near-daily basis.
When protesters invaded the pitch just before half-time, there was a mixture of bemusement and surprise from other supporters at what was unfolding.
About 20 fans walked on to the field with white banners, some demanding the removal of the Vaughan family from the club. After the second protest, the game was abandoned and personally, I was disappointed at the time, as the match had been an end-to-end, entertaining affair.
It was a shame the timing of the protest coincided with one of the team’s best performances of the season, and possibly explained why some members of the crowd booed the protesters.
But the protest also won backing from a significant number of “Vaughan out” chants, and frankly the team’s performances, win lose or draw, mean little at this stage when the club remains rooted to the foot of the Conference, still on minus four points.
The pitch invasions did occur while Chester were leading on both occasions, but it meant the protest emphasised the message of wanting to be rid of the current regime.
However, pitch invasions and abandoned games shouldn’t become a regular occurrence at the Deva, assuming the club survives that long. It’s one thing to have the club’s reputation dragged through the mud by its owners, but it’s another to have it devalued by fans continually stopping play.
But if fans want to see genuine change within the club’s ownership, they need to keep the momentum going, and not just via emails and discussion forums, but to publicly preach to the masses.