HE may have stepped down from the Chester FC board but Mark Howell has no intention of walking away from the club he helped revive.
The 40-year-old from Blacon this week announced his surprise decision to relinquish the director’s role he has held with distinction since the Blues rose from the ashes of Chester City FC two years ago.
Howell has cited increased work and family commitments as his decision.
But having played a major part in the club’s rebirth, the married father-of-two is now determined to carry on the good work.
Howell, alongside head of youth development Bernard Concannon, will continue to oversee Chester’s ever expanding junior, youth and ladies set-ups.
One man certainly sad to see Howell leave the boardroom is Blues boss Neil Young.
He said: “The work Mark has done at the football club while I have been here is phenomenal and, alongside Bernard Concannon, he has given us a youth structure – although in its infancy – to be proud of and which has embedded the club firmly within the community.
“I’m glad to hear although Mark has stepped down from the board he will continue to progress the youth, children and women’s football at the club and would like to thank him for his unwavering support since I have been here.”
Howell, a mechanical services technician, believes the developing junior and youth structure ‘will form a critical part of the club’s future’.
Chester run teams at under 9s, U11s, U14s, Colts and Youth levels and soon an U16s side too.
Howell believes neighbours and League One new boys Crewe Alexandra are the perfect example of why it is important for clubs to produce their own players.
Howell said: “We look at Crewe Alex and we are slowly working toward putting a similar structure in place.
“They have just won a Wembley final with a team of local lads out of their Centre of Excellence and sold a home-developed player (Nick Powell) for £6m.
“We are lucky to have a great team of voluntary coaches, managers and staff around the set-up.
“I will continue as before and we are currently working hard in pre-season with the boys and ladies.”
Howell has many memories from the past two years, from ‘seeing the turnout at the Guildhall meeting’ to ‘hearing about Matty McGinn’s goal against Vics in a text message 4,000 miles away’ while on holiday in America.
But he gains most satisfaction from knowing that ‘I’ve done my bit in ensuring the days out and good times will continue for other children, their families and hopefully beyond’.
Howell reckons ‘exciting’ but ‘challenging’ times lie ahead for the club.
He said: “Chester FC as a club is at a critical junction in its development.
“In my opinion the club needs to continue to grow in the right way, with good governance and with proper structures in place on and off the field to prepare for national, possible full-time football in what potentially could be nine months.
“With the imminent expansion of the community side of the club, and the ongoing work searching for a proper training and community football facility within the city, exciting times lie ahead.
“These are big challenges and I have every confidence that my friends and colleagues remaining on the board will rise to them.
“It has been a special honour representing the owners and supporters of Chester FC, and working with and for them.”