STRIKER Jamie Rainford has turned down the chance of a lucrative move to the Blue Square North in order to come back to the Exacta Stadium and put his Facebook spat with Chester FC fans behind him.
The club record signing, who has been on loan at FC Halifax Town since his angry exchange with ‘three or four’ supporters on the social networking site in November, now hopes to break into Neil Young’s team and ‘show the Chester fans the real me’.
Rainford told The Chronicle: “I feel as good as I’ve ever felt. I feel fitter, I feel quicker, I feel stronger – I couldn’t be coming back in better shape. I’m ready.
“When I joined in the summer there was a lot of expectation but for whatever reason – and I won’t make excuses up – I wasn’t playing to the level I know I am capable of. But things have turned around. I went up to Halifax and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“I went there, got minutes and most of all got my confidence back. I’ve been scoring goals but my all-round play has improved. I think I am a better player than I was at this time last year and I’m happy.”
Rainford has not played for the Blues since allegedly branding some supporters ‘muppets’ on Facebook.
The highly rated 23-year-old insists he did not mean to upset the club’s entire fan base. He admits, however, to regretting the whole episode.
Rainford said: “I got involved in something I shouldn’t have and it blew up out of proportion. The comments I made were referring directly to the three or four people giving me stick. I wasn’t branding every Chester fan.
“I think the support we get is second to none and the way they turn up in their numbers and get behind the team is fantastic. If I did cause offence by the comments I made then I’m sorry for that.”
Blues boss Young signed Rainford for an undisclosed five-figure fee from Marine in May.
The Everton fan struggled to find his best form in the opening months of the season. But a two-month loan spell at Halifax, in which he scored five goals, restored his confidence and led a number of higher-league clubs to enquire about his availability.
Chester accepted bids from Blue Square North rivals Halifax and Guiseley. But after holding talks with Young, Rainford turned both clubs down – despite one offering him a significant pay rise.
Rainford, who works as a gas engineer, said: “I wouldn’t say I’ve got a point to prove but I am coming back in a better frame of mind than I was a couple of months ago. Hopefully if I get the chance, I’ll take it and show the Chester fans the real me.”
Young is giving serious consideration to starting Rainford in Saturday’s big FA Trophy tie at Ebbsfleet United.
Young said: “People have got to remember he’s gone from playing for Bootle to Marine to us in a short space of time – he’s still learning the Chester way.
“I didn’t want to lose Jamie as it would be very hard to replace him. He’s come back and he’s looking really sharp.”