CHAIRMAN Stephen Vaughan and manager Mark Wright have masterminded Chester's return to the Football League. IAN BEDFORD talks to the men behind the Deva revolution.
HALF an hour after the Nationwide Conference trophy had been handed over it was still pandemonium on the pitch and bedlam in the bars.
And where was City's triumphant boss Mark Wright? Alone in his office, feet on the desk and a pint of lager in his hand!
'I like to have a few minutes by myself after a match,' he confessed. No chance. Not today, anyway.
Was it really four years since we were in this very room, commiserating with Ian Atkins following Chester City's relegation from the Football League?
The mourning has been replaced by celebration and the sun has again risen over the Deva Stadium. There have been many reasons for the resurrection of Chester City FC, not least the arrival of Wright, a former England and Liverpool captain, who had just completed his 100th match as manager of the Blues and was now about to set off on one of the biggest benders of his life.
And why not? He had achieved his first success as a manager and wasn't about to apologise for the pint in his hand - the first of many.
'I'm going to have a night to remember,' he said. 'I'll sleep where I drop - well, within reason.'
It was the culmination of a lot of hard work, most of it unseen by the supporters who had packed the Deva Stadium to help him celebrate.
'The gaffer and Steve Bleasedale (Wright's assistant) are often still at the ground at 7pm,' revealed midfielder Ben Davies during the after-match interviews. 'They have worked so hard for this. We all have.'
Wright's highly successful playing career has been well documented. His managerial career started quietly at Southport, gained momentum with Oxford United and then crashed ignominiously amid allegations of racial abuse.
It was rescued by City chairman Stephen Vaughan and took off as Chester, facing relegation to the UniBond League, gradually climbed to safety.
Disappointment followed with defeat to Doncaster Rovers in the playoffs last season, but all along Wright had insisted the following season would be the one by which to judge him.
'This rates very, very highly among my footballing experiences, if not the top,' he said. 'This is the first thing I have won as a manager and it's fantastic. Don't forget Doncaster didn't go up as champions and they have gone up through the next league.
'If we emulate them it would be great for the Conference, because to get out of the Conference is a major, major feat with so many good sides in here. For what the boys have done, I thank them.
'It has taken a major effort by everyone - two and a half years of unbelievable work, believe me. You wouldn't believe the things we have had to do and the miles we have travelled, but it was all worthwhile and it has come to a head.
'Not many managers in a lifetime get to lift a championship trophy and get a championship medal. Some players go through an entire career and not win a single thing. You have to appreciate it and enjoy it.
'The support has been fantastic. If we can go out and sign the right players and pack the stadium week in, week out, it will be great for the city.
'It can only be great for the area that this club is back in the Football League.'
'This is just the beginning'
CHESTER City chairman Stephen Vaughan isn't short of a few bob, but when the final whistle blew to mark the return to the Football League of Chester City FC he had the smile of a lottery winner.
In fact, far from being about to collect a big cheque, he is, by his own estimation, around £3m poorer than he was when he made the momentous decision to buy Chester City FC.
It was fitting he received a medal - if City fans had their way he would also be given the freedom of the city.
But, although he took the congratulations of the grateful fans in his stride, he was bursting with pride and already looking forward to the second phase of the plan to achieve his ambition to get the club into the first division.
Chester City has had many winters of discontent. But now the club looks forward to a summer of high expectation, excitement and, Vaughan hopes, record-breaking season ticket sales as the eagerly-awaited return to the Football League looms in August.
'Promotion back to the League was always the plan and we have pulled it off,' said Vaughan. 'I brought the right man in to do the job and put the funds in place and we have achieved promotion.
'We are back in the Football League and gone are the days when Chester City would be the laughing stock. I feel now we can emulate Doncaster and win the third division next year.
'People laughed when I said we would get back in the League. We are in. And now we must take the club forward and get into the second division.
'If you listen to our manager he speaks so much sense. It's all about where we want to be and what we want to achieve. It is the first time this club has won a major championship, but it won't be the last.
'We intend to take this club forward. It is a city club - a sleeping giant. And, as far as I am concerned, with the backing of our supporters and a manager like Mark Wright and the personnel he can bring in there is no reason why we can't build on that and go from strength to strength.
'We must enjoy our promotion and then go through the third division, not by the exit door, but by the promotion door.'