Tuesday, 21 April 2009

It's Hell at the Deva!

Well this is my first blog, and I thought I'd get stuck into something that really makes me happy, annoyed, fed up, elated, sick, embarrassed, the best feeling in the world, gives me headaches, and generally takes up my whole life - what is it? It's football of course - not just any old football, but lower league football!!!

Forget all the soap operas in the world, take a trip to the Deva Stadium - no really, please do take a trip to the Deva Stadium - you'll find the best supporters in the world.

I know every fan will say this about their club, but really has a club put its own supporters through the mill as many times as Chester City FC have?

The likes of Manchester Utd, Liverpool, and Arsenal all complain from time to time about pressure, and injuries, well that pressure is nothing when you compare it to Chester City FC, with less than 10 professionals currently on the books, and a handful of 16 & 17 year old kids - trying to stay in the League as a full time football club is real pressure.

The manager, Mark Wright, who himself has proved to have a soap opera of his own follow him around for the past few years, has worked without pay for the past 3 months, yet has managed to see his side in with a fighting chance of staying up - well after Saturday's defeat to Bournemouth, now only a mathematical chance of staying up rather than a fighting chance.

The side has relied heavily on it's youth players recently following the exit of 7 players in the January transfer window, what about the replacements I hear you ask, well errr...erm.... there aren't any.

Thanks to the transfer embargo that's been placed on the club for the majority of the season, our chances of doing anything other than dropping down the league like a stone in water have been pretty remote. Sadly, our owner Stephen Vaughan, has refused to clear the outstanding embargo, and subsequently the club has lost more than it's drawn or won in 2009, and the fans are the ones who have suffered most.

It's not a new thing for Chester City fans, going back over the last 20 years, we've had Mark Guterman, a failed businessman, who took the club into administration, and at one point wanted us to become the feeder club to Manchester City, thus losing our own identity as CCFC. Guterman has since had an unsuccessful spell at Wrexham - our local rivals, where the club ended up in Administration - and yet the Footballing authorities do nothing about these crooks coming into the game and ruining our beloved football clubs.

Following the Guterrat, it was the turn of Terry Smith, an ex-American footballer (or so he'd have us believe), who decided that he wanted to buy Chester City, as he'd fallen in love with Chester Zoo, hmmm, work that one out! He also decided that he could do all the work himself, and surprise surprise catapulted the side to the bottom of the League, and despite a heroic attempt by Ian Atkins, a lower league style Manager, he failed to keep us in the League, and a spell in the Conference was ours.

The Liverpool boxing promoter Stephen Vaughan, then bought the club, and became an instant hero, changing things for the better, employing Mark Wright as Manager, and winning the Conference title in 2004 - from that point - it all went horribly wrong.

Mark Wright fell out with Stephen Vaughan on the eve of the new League season, and walked away from the club, this happening just weeks after new signing Stephen Vaughan Junior was unveiled, following his move from Liverpool (reserves/youth). It soon became apparent that SVJ was not the Liverpool type footballer we had come to expect, and was soon being exposed in the Blues defence time after time.

A few Managers came & went (including Mark Wright once again, despite Vaughan Senior's claims that he would work "over his dead body" at the club again) in the meantime, however two things were to start a trend at the Club, firstly, nepotism, and secondly the January sales.

Every season, Chester City would start off like an inter city train and head to the top end of League 2, but then a lack of incomings during the Transfer Windows saw City slide quicker than melted snow off a roof down the table. Keith Curle tried, Mark Wright tried, Bobby Williamson tried, but year after year the same would happen.

James Vaughan, the second son of Stephen would then be signed by Chester City, a move which clearly antagonised the Blues faithful, and ever since we have been blessed with the Vaughan offsprings in the City squad, despite a brief spell where young Stephen was transferred out to Rochdale, non league football, and then back he came after a serious injury to take his place amongst the City wage earners.

This season has been a disaster for Chester City FC, the most notable off pitch moment occurred before a game, when a minutes silence was observed for a major benefactor of the club, this turned out to be a drugs baron from Liverpool who was gunned down, little did the fans know who or what they were actually observing that silence for.

Ever since that killing, the funds have well and truly dried up at Chester City, leading to many conclusions drawn up, sadly the fact is that this season Simon Davies, was thrown into the hot seat - Davies was actually promoted from the Youth Team Manager post just prior to the end of the 2007/08 season, and did well to keep us in the League despite only winning 2 of the last 11 games.

Davies was sacked following a dismal start to the new League campaign, and Stephen Vaughan claimed that he would take his time over a new appointment, sadly, he took just 24 hours, and re-appointed Mark Wright for a third time, to help Chester City's battle against the drop.

Unfortunately this move alienated even more of the Chester fans, to some the point of no return, and some started to give up on the Club that seemed to be heading completely in the wrong direction - and this being off the pitch in the main. Those fans who were still watching, witnessed a dreadful home record, where the club finally finally ended it's barren run with a couple of wins recently to keep the season alive for a couple more weeks.

So now, to last weekend, three clubs in with a chance of relegation to the Conference, Grimsby, Bournemouth, and ourselves. Three Cup Finals to save City's league status, the first against Bournemouth - this coming just 2 weeks after City played out a draw at home to Grimsby - and so much was put in by the fans to get the pre match atmosphere going, lots of blue balloons, ticker tape - you know the type of thing, and all seemed great inside a busier than normal Deva Stadium - that was until 2 minutes in Bournemouth, known as the Cherries blew our day apart, and took a 1-0 lead, a lead that City were never to recover from, especially with the pressure on the 16 & 17 year old lads that were doing their best alongside leading scorer Ryan Lowe.

Chester only mustered one shot at goal in this encounter, and the South Coast club made the game safe just ten minutes before the end, leaving City's league status hanging by a thread.

Most of the City fans have now written the chances of league survival off, the only bonus being next week City will travel to Aldershot, whilst the other two candidates for the drop Bournemouth & Grimsby meet each other at Dean Court next Saturday, where something has to give.

The situation is clear now, City have to beat Aldershot to take it to the last game, and then beat Darlington and hope that one of their relegation rivals lose on the last day to see City keep their status.

Five years ago, City were celebrating their return to the Football League after that disastrous start to the Millenium, sadly Five years on, and we could become the newest members of the Blue Square Premier league.

This feeling will no doubt be shared by many lower league football fans, most of which tend to have a second team, be it Chelsea, Man Utd, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool etc, but almost all of those fans will always put their own team ahead of the illustrious Premier League money grabbers, and suffer highs & lows as the season comes to an end, whether it be relegation, or just missing out on the Play Offs, or indeed, getting beat in the Play Off finals, either way the feeling is just the same, only for Chester City, the feeling of the point of no return is stronger than ever.

So, after all that, you can see why us lower league footy fans bleed our club's colours, that will never change, but why are we punished so much for our devotion???

Right now, it's hell at the Deva!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post your comments here...