Chester Checking Out of Adversity
Chester FC 3-0 Southport
Like a number of ‘phoenix clubs’ around the English football pyramid, Chester FC are rising from the ashes. LS Sport’s Hugo Greenhalgh investigates…
On the side of the main stand at Chester FC’s Exacta Stadium is the slogan, “Our City, Our Community, Our Club”. In the simplest terms, this defines their ethos.
When Chester City were wound up in March 2010, it was the supporters and the local community that picked up the pieces. The supporters group CFU (City Fans United) formed a new club, Chester FC, and with help from Cheshire Council, they were allowed to play at the same ground – the Exacta.
The ground itself is a decent one and with a capacity of 6000 is deserving of a club like Chester, back on the road to success. As football trivia fans often point out, the ground also straddles the border between England and Wales.
Having always embraced this dual identity, the new club proved a popular and successful one. Starting in the 8th tier of English football in the 2010/11 season, Chester FC have gained successive promotion and will compete in the Blue Square North this year.
Last season was particularly fruitful, with Chester topping their division with 100 points and scoring 102 goals. But the journey is by no means finished as this promising team showed last week.
“Our City, Our Community, Our Club”
On a midsummer’s eve, Chester played Southport in a pre-season friendly and put on a performance that gave signs they are ready for the next step up. Southport were the surprise package in the Blue Square Premier last season and only just missed out on the playoffs.
Chester always looked the likelier team to score, but it took until the 80th minute to break the deadlock. Three goals came in quick succession, with Dave Hankin’s being the pick of the bunch. The new signing picked up the ball in midfield and slotted a low shot into the bottom corner.
Of course, this was only a pre-season game in which both sides fielded a number of trialists. However, Southport are the sort of club Chester will have to beat regularly if they are to keep on track for promotion back into the Football League.
Clubs like Aldershot Town and AFC Wimbledon are evidence that clubs can rise from the ashes and should serve as inspiration for Chester’s aspirations. Yet after a tumultuous few years, Chester can look forward to a return to more familiar surroundings in the higher echelons of non-league football.
Words: Hugo Greenhalgh
Images: Andrew Belt