Life as a Chester FC player could not be going any better for Paul Linwood.
The centre-back returned to the Blues in the summer after three years away.
His first spell with the club, then Chester City, was a traumatic one. Linwood was the captain of the team when they were relegated from the Football League in May 2009.
Less than a year later the old club was wound-up in the High Court. By that time, Linwood was a Grimsby Town player.
But his affection for Chester never went away and when he was given the chance to re-sign for the new club – following his release from Fleetwood Town – it was one he could not turn down.
With Neil Young’s table-topping side are hot favourites to win the Blue Square Bet North, it is a decision he has not regretted.
But it is the differences he has noticed off the field that have struck the biggest chord with family-man Linwood.
“My wife and baby come to the game now when they probably wouldn’t have come when it was the old Chester,” said Linwood, who scored his first goal of the season in the 2-0 home win over Oxford City last Wednesday.
“The place is bouncing. People are excited about the club again.
“It is being run very professionally and it’s just a great club to be at. It’s a real family club and we all share the same ambition.”
That ambition is a third straight promotion.
Linwood said: “I didn’t expect us to be so far ahead. I was going to say ‘so comfortable’ but it’s not been comfortable as there are some good teams in the division and we’ve had to put in some really good performances and play in different ways.”
Linwood has formed a rock-solid defensive partnership with captain George Horan in recent weeks, resulting in six clean sheets in the last seven matches.
The duo’s form has meant youngster Dom Collins has had to settle for a place on the bench.
Linwood: “Dom has all the attributes. He’s going to be a really top player.”