FEW people are more qualified than Barrie Hipkiss to give an opinion about Chester City.
The unofficial voice of the supporters, he has been following the Blues since 1946 and is the driving force behind the official supporters travel, which sends at least one coach to every match City play on their travels.
Hipkiss has devoted most of his life to the club, helping with stewarding and in the office, while wife Pam is always busy behind the scenes, assisting with hospitality on match days.
'Getting back into the Football League means a lot to me,' he admitted. 'When we were relegated, I didn't think the club would return in my lifetime.
'Until Stephen Vaughan took over, things were very bleak, but he has got us where we are today and I believe he has the drive to take Chester City onwards and upwards.' Hipkiss is looking forward to returning to familiar grounds in the League but will have some fond memories of City's four years in the Conference.
'I must admit I was surprised by the standard of football in the Conference,' he said. 'And there was always a warm welcome from the clubs we visited. It was good to be able to mingle with the home fans, something you can't always do at the bigger grounds of the League. Having said that, it will be nice once again to visit grounds which are truly of League standard.
'The Conference is very difficult to get out of. It has taken us four years and now I am looking forward to trying to emulate Doncaster's feat of going straight through the third division.
'I honestly believe we are as good as Doncaster but, to be realistic, I will be happy if we manage to finish in the top half of the third division next season.'