FORMER Chester favourite Luke Beckett has been reflecting on the highs and lows of his time at the Deva Stadium after announcing his retirement from football.
The 34-year-old striker made his Football League debut for the Blues in 1998 and enjoyed a prolific two-year spell with the club before going on to play for the likes of Chesterfield, Stockport County, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield United and Oldham Athletic.
Had he not chosen to hang up his boots after playing just one match for Worksop Town earlier this season, he would have found himself playing against Chester – albeit the fan-owned, re-formed incarnation – on Saturday.
Beckett, however, has opted to end his playing days so he can focus on the personal training business he runs.
“I have good memories of Chester City,” said Beckett, who was signed by Kevin Ratcliffe on a free transfer from Barnsley.
“Ratcliffe had been watching me in Barnsley’s reserves and I went to Chester as a 21-year-old, but since then Chester got relegated. I saw them go up and down through the leagues and it was a difficult time.
“But I spent a lot of time with Chester and the fans were really good to me. It was probably the happiest time I had in my career.”
Beckett’s goal-scoring lit up what was an otherwise turbulent period for Blues fans, with controversial American owner Terry Smith taking charge of team affairs following Ratcliffe’s departure.
Beckett was voted Chester’s player of the year in the 1999-2000 campaign but his goals were not enough to save the Blues from relegation to the Conference.
He was subsequently snapped up by Chesterfield, having netted 25 goals for Chester in 75 appearances.
Looking back on the Smith era, Beckett admitted: “That was a bad time. It was a bit of a joke, unfortunately.”
It may be more than a decade since Beckett last pulled the blue and white stripes of Chester, but he followed his old club’s revival closely last year.
“I saw Chester are starting again from the bottom up and I am sure I will keep an eye out for them,” he said.
“Chester FC should do really well with the fanbase they have and I wish them all the best. It’s a good little club and the fans deserve something after all the difficult years.”
He now runs his own business, Luke Beckett Fitness, in Doncaster, and is a qualified personal trainer, gym instructor and massage therapist.