The hammer blow all Blues fans had braced themselves for was finally delivered last Friday when the club was expelled from the Football Conference for breaching competition rules. It was a bitter pill to swallow – a decision which was met with a mixture of sorrow, anger and regret by those who love Chester City.
A COUPLE of paragraphs in most daily newspapers recorded the expulsion of Chester City from the Football Conference.
Not much in the way of recognition of the distressing death- throes of a once-proud club, while the rest of the football world was more concerned with John Terry and Portsmouth.
The club may not be officially declared dead, but for those of us fortunate to remember the good times it may as well be.
We are the lucky ones – those goal-crazy days of Gary Talbot and co in the Sixties, the glorious run to the semi-finals of the League Cup in 1975 and the successful and eccentric seasons under Harry McNally are a few of the highlights of our association with the club.
Sadly, a much younger generation does not have those memories as comfort.
These supporters will have only memories of a two-year exile in Macclesfield, a desperate and unsuccessful fight to stay in the Football League under another contemptible management, a brief reprieve with promotion back from the Conference and, latterly, the torture inflicted by the current wretched regime which has finally brought the club close to its demise.
In years to come a new Chester FC may provide memories we older followers have been fortunate to enjoy. Let’s hope so. Good luck to all those who are trying to get a phoenix club up and running.
The future is in your hands.
IAN BEDFORD, former Chester Chronicle sports editor
WE haven’t had so much as a phone call from the club. They didn’t tell us the club had been kicked out.
We are speaking to the PFA to see what we can recover in terms of lost wages. It’s been four months now and we’ve all got bills to pay.
TIM RYAN, Chester City captain
WE must first and foremost grieve for the club, but then look forward because we need to ensure that there is a football club playing at the Deva Stadium come August.
We all want one common thing – to watch our team on a Saturday. It is our intention to bring that reality back to the supporters.
We’re under no illusions how difficult this will be, but if we were not confident we would not be going ahead.
JEFF BANKS, press officer for City Fans United
THIS is the last thing I wanted to see happen. I feel for the players, the youngsters, the groundstaff and Tony Allan the secretary, because this is a bad day for them.
BARRIE HIPKISS, former chairman of Chester’s official supporters’ club
EVEN though it was predictable, I am now seeing the club I have supported for 40 years being kicked out of the league. It hits you in the stomach and it is very emotional.
The club has been badly managed and the chickens are coming home to roost.
CHARLIE LAMBERT, City fan and broadcaster
I certainly wouldn’t have wanted this four or five years ago but a phoenix club is clearly the only exit strategy now. I only hope it’s not a pyrrhic victory.
There’s a long, hard road ahead and the battle now is to win over the sceptical few who aren’t convinced about the fans’ club.
JON WAINWRIGHT, former editor of the long-running Chester City fanzine The Onion Bag
OUR suffering finally comes to an end, and perhaps now we can look forward to new beginnings in the hands of people who care more about the football than business.
I raise my glass to the Chester greats who first fired my interest in this great club. Draper, Storton, Millington and many more too numerous to mention.
ANDY GASTON, long-serving supporter now living in Spain
I AM very sad at what has happened at Chester. They are a club close to my heart and I played the best football of my career there.
The only saving grace is that the supporters want to form a new club and work their way through the leagues like AFC Wimbledon have done.
DARYL CLARE, Chester City legend
IT’S disappointing obviously to see the situation Chester are in. I’m not surprised though.
There were signs of the problems they were having when I was there – people were getting paid late virtually every month.
JON WALTERS, Ipswich’s former Chester City striker
AROUND 50 clubs have been saved by fans and Chester could be one of them.
A key partner, though, is the local authority. We have to get them to throw their weight behind a fans’ club.
CHRISTINE RUSSELL, Chester MP
THE fans must get behind plans and I hope they get co-operation from the council to do that in a viable way.
GORDON TAYLOR, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association