JOHN Danby sealed his return to Chester this week – then expressed his amazement at the transformation of the club he never wanted to leave.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper, who stayed with the old Chester City FC until their sorry demise last year, was back at the Exacta Stadium on Tuesday to put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the Blues.
Now he is determined to help the reborn Chester FC, revived and thriving again under the ownership of the club’s supporters, back up the non-league ladder.
Danby, fresh back from a holiday in Cuba, said: “I can’t believe it – it’s like a different club from the last time I was here.
“It’s good to be back and I can’t wait to get out there and play in front of crowds of 2,000-3,000. When I finished here last time I think there was only around 300-400 fans here so I can’t wait to get out there and do the business for them.”
Danby, Chester’s player of the season in 2006-07, added: “I always kept my eye on what was happening at the club after it closed because I always loved the place – that’s why I stayed until the end.
“I remember reading that at the new club’s first friendly, at Colwyn Bay, they were struggling to get the fans in the ground and from then on I felt it could be a success.
“It’s a massive club and while it was very unfortunate what happened last time, it’s a completely different club now and we need to get it back to where it was.
“I’ve signed a two-year contract and hopefully we can get a couple of promotions in that time and get back into the Conference.
“It’s not going to be easy because the league we’re going into this season has some big teams, as does the division above that, but we’ve got to give it a go.”
Danby, who made a club record 128 consecutive Football League appearances during his first spell at Chester between 2006 and 2010, was offered contracts by higher-league clubs when his deal with Blue Square North outfit Eastwood Town expired.
But he had no hesitation dropping down a division after he spoke to Blues boss Neil Young.
“I spoke to Neil quite early on after last season finished and straight away I could tell how enthusiastic he is and that he wants to take the club places,” said Helsby-based Danby, who played in Chester City’s final game – a 2-1 home defeat to Ebbsfleet United in front of just 388 Blues supporters.
“They won the league last season and Neil wants to do it again – and that’s good enough for me.”