Gone but never to be forgotten, Neil Young was the man who took Chester FC on a rocket ride through the divisions of English non-league football.

A relative unknown when he left Colwyn Bay to become the first manager of the re-formed Blues back in May 2010, he oversaw an unprecedented period of success, winning three league titles and three promotions, plus a Cheshire Senior Cup for good measure.

After years of doom and gloom, Young’s arrival signalled the start of a new era – an era of unity, an era of smiles and silverware, a era which will forever be regarded as a golden period in the club’s history.

 

Young struck up an instant rapport with Blues fans, the new and rightful guardians of the reborn club.

He often wore a scowl on the touchline and ruled his players as a no-nonsense disciplinarian, but he also went to great lengths to ensure the supporters knew he was approachable.

Never afraid to go the extra mile, Wirral-based Young once even travelled all the way to London to meet members of the Chester City Exiles supporters club.

He is a keen family man and, while many  fans went out for a night on the town to celebrate the long-waited derby win over Wrexham in September, Young was not too proud to admit he spent the night watching X Factor on TV with his wife and two young daughters.

That day at the Racecourse was one of Young’s finest hours. But there were many others.

Like that nerve-shredding afternoon at Garforth in April 2011 when the Blues won the Evo-Stik League Division One North title – by a goal difference of only two. The run-in to the 2011-12 campaign when the Blues marched toward the Evo-Stik Premier Division crown, sealing the championship thanks to Matty McGinn’s late long-range strike in a draw with Northwich Vics in front of 5,000 delirious supporters.

Then there was last season’s imperious glory charge, when Chester swept all rivals aside to win the Conference North title by a convincing distance – quite probably Young’s finest achievement, given the quality of the opposition. 

Winning had become almost second nature. But the transition to life in the Skrill Premier was tough and, with a modest budget to spend on players, victories were hard to come by this season.

The pressure was mounting and Young’s departure as manager, by mutual consent, was confirmed in a club statement issued at 1.24pm yesterday.

He’ll be fondly remembered by the fans – the supporters who worked so hard to get the reborn Chester FC club off the ground – and will no doubt want to deflect much of the credit to those around him, particularly his loyal backroom team.

But for the last three-and-a-half years, the buck has stopped with one man when it came to getting results – and, for the most part, Young delivered.

One of the most successful and popular managers in Chester’s history? It’s hard to argue against it. 

A true Chester FC legend? Don’t ever doubt it.