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[Albert Screen] May 10 2000
Funeral Blues (With apologies to W H Auden)

Stop all the papers, cut off the phone,
Life now in Chester has a solemn tone.
Silence the Tannoy and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

I followed City North, South and East and West.
During working week and Saturday rest.
They were my noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought they would stay up for ever; I was wrong.

Goodbye Albert

May 3 2000
Chester's fate is still in the balance until Saturday. By five o'clock we should know whether we are extending our sixty-nine year stay in the Football League or going on loan to the Conference. The good thing is that we are, thanks to Ian Atkins and his valiant charges, in a position where we know that a win at home to Barry Fry's unpredicatable Posh will secure survival. Come on you Blues!

April 26 2000
An eventful Easter weekend saw Chester come away from a saturated Macclesfield with a point. No doubt the team were inspired by a City streaker who flew through the air like a pink hippo to wallow in the Moss Rose mud. Then on Monday two goals in a minute against York led to ecstatic scenes at the Deva as Chester rose from the dead.

Two games left but still a long way to go. Keep it up City!

April 19 2000
A large and fanatical away following at Leyton Orient clapped and chanted like a choir of buddhist monks as Chester came from behind to grab a vital victory. A non-stop barrage of verbal support inspired the team to hold on for the three point which have taken us off the bottom. There is still a tough challenge ahead if we are to stay in the League though – beginning at our Cheshire cousins Macclesfield on Saturday.

April 12 2000
A disastrous result at a throbbing Deva Stadium on Saturday as Chester succumbed to Carlisle's sucker punch. Not only did the visitors score with their first shot on goal in the third minute of added time, they had just been reduced to nine men. Though we lost ground last week we're hoping that City return from the Orient at the weekend bearing gifts – three points to be precise.

April 5 2000
Over eight hundred fans, many of them taking advantage of travel subsidised by the Independent Supporters' Association, crossed the Pennines to cheer Chester on to a second successive victory. It's the first time the team has managed this all season and the excellent win at Halifax has given fresh hope in the Great Escape Campaign. City fans need to make their voices heard again at Saturday's momentous match with Carlisle.

March 28 2000
City's sensational 5-0 win over Mansfield has left their fans in a state of dizzy euphoria for several days. This is no time to rest on any laurels, however, as the season draws to a climax. The Independent Supporters Association are subsidising travel to City's next match at Halifax. Chester expects every Cestrian to get behind the team in their hour of need and build on last week's morale boosting result.

March 21 2000
Although it's seemed almost treasonable to say so until now, Chester appear to have one foot in the Conference after recent results. Tony Hemmings gave City the lead with a spectacular goal against Hartlepool on Tuesday. But a second half display which lacked nerve saw City defend way too deep and invite pressure and an inevitable equaliser from the visitors. Draws are hardly enough for us now.

March 15 2000
The woodwork twice denied Luke Beckett as he tried to break the deadlock at the Deva when City faced Shrewsbury. First his header thumped against the crossbar and later a superb angled shot hit the far post. The ball seemed to deny all the laws of physics as, instead of rippling the net, it bounced back into play. Let's hope for better luck on our travels to Southend this weekend.

March 8 2000
A successful trip to the West Country with the squad staying at an army camp rather than a cushy hotel has yielded four points for City and elevated them from the bottom. The stage is set now for a crunch match on Saturday when former boss Kevin Ratcliffe returns to the Deva with local rivals Shrewsbury. It promises to be very exciting – not to be missed.

March 1 2000
City fans are still smarting from our worst ever League defeat at home. One disgruntled chap chucked his replica shirt onto the pitch in disgust as he walked out early. In this character-building season this has been our toughest test. Where do we go from here?. Exeter actually. Let's hope that the Cheshire cats will be grinning again after we cream some points from Devon over the weekend.

February 23 2000
City's run of desperately bad luck continued at Swansea where Chester had led for over an hour until the last five minutes. Then they conceded an unfortunate own goal and, even worse, the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Our friends from Brighton – with whom we shared a memorable Fans United Day last year – visit us on Saturday. Their escape of the drop a couple of years ago can inspire us to do the same.

February 16 2000
The fans of Manchester United, Nigeria and Chester all suffered from debatable decisions over whether the ball crossed the goal line or not last weekend. Their teams' situations are vastly different however. For Chester the two extra points, if the goal had been given, would have lifted them level with Carlisle. Points are at a premium for City – but The Vetch, next port of call, is a difficult place to secure them.

February 9 2000
The Wilbutts Lane terracing at Spotland is soon to be demolished. Work almost began early as six hundred and seventy-eight Chester fans raised the roof, cheering Luke Beckett's superb equaliser with eight minutes left. Cruelly, the point which City's second half fight back deserved was snatched away in the dying seconds as Rochdale struck the winner. But there were enough signs to suggest this was a mere hiccup in the Great Escape Campaign.

February 2 2000
Dreadful weather conditions meant that it wasn't a pretty match at the Deva on Saturday. City fans are not complaining – what mattered more than anything was the result – a welcome three points against Torquay. Ian Atkins' organisational skills are beginning to rub off on the team and perhaps confidence will begin to increase as well now. After our visit to Rochdale this weekend let's hope we're whistling the theme from The Great Escape once again.

January 26 2000
Chester's season has had many false dawns already but the fans are preparing to launch a final rearguard action against the drop to the Conference. Ian Atkins is chair of the escape committee but he needs the troops to rally round him. So every closet Chester fan is summoned out of the woodwork to get down to the Deva and lend their support to the Great Escape 2000 (The year, that is, not the size of the crowd) – beginning on Saturday against Torquay.

January 19 2000
The scale of the task facing Ian Atkins was apparent last Saturday as City were comfortably beaten by Rotherham. He couldn't have had a much tougher start with matches against promotion contenders. This weekend Atkins returns to his former club Northampton – at least he should be aware of what the opposition can do. A few years ago he steered the Cobblers to safety when they faced the drop. The City faithful hope he can repeat the miracle for us.

January 12 2000
Ian Atkins has been installed as Director of Football at the Deva. He regards saving Chester from relegation as the ultimate challenge. He brought an almost immediate improvement in performance with his first match in charge against Darlington. But for the unfortunate sending off of debutant Keister, Chester might easily have taken something from the game against slick and promotion-bound opposition. Another tough game beckons with the visit of Rotherham on Saturday.

January 5 2000
A calamitous Christmas period saw Chester not only defeated by their relegation rivals but well and truly hammered. Terry Smith has finally decided to appoint a manager. Whoever takes on the position has a difficult task ahead. Ironically for a team that's bottom of the League, two of our squad are on international duty at the weekend – Angus Eve for Trinidad and Martin Nash for Canada – we'll miss them against high flying Darlington.

New Year Wish List 2000
1. A mega-rich sugar daddy who would say, "Blow the expense. Let's go for the Champion's League – but this is your club – what do you think?".
2. Some experienced players to lend guile and wisdom to a young squad.
3. Lady Luck (Deva Diva?) to convert some of City's promising performances into the hard currency of League victories.
4. The winners of the Conference 2000 to have a ground which does not meet the League's minimum requirements.

Christmas 1999
There's little doubt what the majority of Chester City fans would like to find in their stocking at Christmas. A canny and experienced manager. Someone who will transform City's fortunes and help them escape the trapdoor to the Conference. We know it's wishful thinking but – Oh! how we long for a season of boring, mid-table obscurity.

December 15 1999
A 4-1 defeat against Manchester City on Sunday was cruel reward for a Chester side who more than matched their illustrious neighbours for eighty minutes or so. Even Joe Royle had to admit as much. Chester's top striker, Luke Beckett, might have had a hat trick on another day – may be his subconscious (He was a season ticket holder at Maine Road for several years) worked against him.

December 8 1999
The scoreline at Underhill was true to form as Barnet moved further a head at the top of the table and Chester remain rooted at the bottom. But the result hides a good second half performance by City for which they deserved a share of the spoils. Unfortunately it’s points that win prizes... ..Except in the Cup of course, which provides welcome distraction on Sunday, when Manchester City visit a packed Deva Stadium.

December 1 1999
Chaotic scenes at the Deva last weekend as fans queued to get in and then queued again to buy a programme. The reason for the rise in demand to see the League's currently bottom club is the prospect of seeing them play Man City in the FA Cup. Saturday's match programmes are the vouchers for cup tie tickets. The larger than usual crowd could not inspire Chester to win as they slipped to their seventh home defeat – this time to Swansea.

November 24 1999
When interviewed after City's win at Stalybridge, Chester owner/manager Terry Smith was asked who he wanted in the third round of the FA Cup. "We don't need to draw a big club for the money" he said as Chester City are not losing money at the moment – a considerable achievement. Most City fans were delighted, however, when the other City – from Manchester – popped out of the hat. Another full house at the Deva should be guaranteed.

November 17 1999
Of the five north-east Football League clubs, Hartlepool is the only one where Chester haven't recorded a victory since 1980. That hoodoo continued on Saturday as City went down 1-0. Not even England's victory at Hampden Park could lift the gloom. A Cheshire derby with Stalybridge looms in the FA Cup this weekend. Once again we are everyone's favourite Goliath.

November 10 1999
Whyteleafe of the Ryman League have certainly put their place on the map as far as Cestrians are concerned. After a wobbly beginning and despite dense fog billowing across the Deva, Chester finally managed to overcome their visitors in the first round of the FA Cup. Whyteleafe players and supporters gave an excellent account of themselves on Tuesday night. Even the Lady Mayor was there to savour their biggest moment in football.

November 3 1999
Chester's first ever League win at Gay Meadow came on Tuesday at the fifteenth attempt. The timing could not have been better as it lifted us level with Shrewsbury and off the bottom spot. Nick Richardson's curled free kick into the top corner was only the fourth time City have scored there but it was enough to win us the points. For the long-suffering City faithful it was a historic night indeed.

October 27 1999
Even though Chester are currently bottom of the League, they are firm favourites to progress in the FA Cup on Saturday when they take on the Surrey club Whyteleafe from the First Division of the Ryman League. Southern-based City fans made a reconnaissance trip there last week and a 2500 capacity crowd is expected. With City's loan stars unavailable and confidence low, a slippery banana skin of a match awaits them.

October 20 1999
"Wake me up before you gogo" was the tune every City fan was whistling after Tuesday night. Manuel Junior Agogo scored a simply stunning goal after taking the ball from the halfway line, weaving and bobbing his way into the area, and clipping his low shot into the far corner. His second five minutes later secured City's first home League win at the seventh attempt against new boys Cheltenham.

October 13 1999
A diversion off the A14 took Chester fans, returning home from Peterborough, right past Rushden & Diamonds' Nene Park ground. If present form continues – they will be taking our place in the League next season. We hope this was not an omen. There's a long way to go yet, of course, but its difficult not to begin to prepare for the worst after another defeat left us further adrift at the bottom.

October 6 1999
The winter of our discontent continued as Lancaster put through his own goal at York (Joke there somewhere). Or was the culprit Goran Milosavijevic our Yugoslavian midfielder turned centre half? It was difficult to tell from the Chester end. Our leaky defence has not had a clean sheet since Easter. Let's hope Terry Smith can recruit some defenders to go with the international midfielders and forwards who have flown into the Deva recently.

September 29 1999
The cautious optimism we began to feel after good performances against Exeter and Brighton evaporated when Chester lost to Lincoln on Saturday. Despite a five man defence, careless, stupid mistakes cost us the match. It was a deeply disappointing result because a win would have lifted us off the bottom. City have a second chance of lift off this week as they visit York who are one point and one place above them.

September 22 1999
For many City fans it was a nostalgic trip to Villa Park on Tuesday as we recalled the thrilling semi-final of twenty-five seasons ago. This time the result was less close as a full-strenth Premiership team overwhelmed Chester. Last Saturday's amazing first win of the season at Brighton, however, has given us real hope. We clash with fellow Roman city strugglers, Lincoln and York in the next fortnight.

September 15 1999
Two much improved performances at the Deva have given Chester fans fresh heart. First, a deserved victory against Exeter was denied by a last gasp equaliser on Saturday. Then on Tuesday, City matched Aston Villa - the team eighty-six places above them in the League - and were desperately unlucky to go down to a late goal when Hendrie followed up Brown's penalty save by scoring from the rebound. We should achieve lift off if this form continues.

September 8 1999
Two young loan players made their debuts for City at Hull last week but couldn't prevent the defeat which cast us further adrift. More signings are promised including a Yugoslavian with a French passport and Bundesliga experience. Owner/coach Terry Smith's new fitness regime has been implemented this week and will be tested by the visit of high flying Exeter on Saturday and Aston Villa, no less, in the Cup on Tuesday.

September 1 1999
City's abject defeat to a solid, if unspectacular, Rochdale on Monday left us bottom of the League. We were all choked but, to make an already dire situation worse, one of our fans tried to throttle the referee for his decision to send off Darren Moss. As theatre it was pure farce but his moment of madness has ended up as no laughing matter and earned him a lifetime ban from the Deva.

August 25 1999
A sensational match at Vale Park on Tuesday saw Chester progress to the second round of the Worthington Cup. It finished 4-4 (6-5 on aggregate) after a pulsating ninety minutes – one of the most incredible games I have ever seen. All this, after chairman, and now joint-coach, Terry Smith had faced a grilling by supporters the previous night, following Kevin Ratcliffe's dramatic resignation last Friday. What a week!

August 18 1999
City's youthful and wafer-thin squad collapsed like a pack of cards at Millmoor on Saturday after a couple of penalty awards went against them. With injuries and suspensions looming the team needs reinforcements. The addition of loan players has been sanctioned and several trialists have arrived at the Deva but with no impact on the first team yet. Anxiously we await the cavalry to come over the hill to the rescue.

August 11 1999
Deja vu for Chester supporters. Last year we lost at home 2-0 on the opening day of the season but then scored a superb win over First Division Port Vale. History repeated itself on Tuesday as once again City beat the Valiants 2-1.

It was a really uplifting performance after the disappointment of Saturday. New owner Terry Smith was on his feet all the way through the second half – he was so excited.

August 4 1999
All Chester supporters are relieved to see their team in the Football League fixtures for 1999/2000. Just when it seemed a rescue would never be made, along came American Terry Smith to combine with the ISA and the club was saved. Not much time has elapsed since then and players contracts are still to be settled, and season tickets sent out. But we're hoping to get off to a flyer against another club in dire straits – Barnet.

May 11 1999
The last match of the season typified what had gone before for Chester. They dominated the match, played Rotherham off the park, but could not force home the advantage. Luke Beckett's goal was not enough as once again City allowed the visitors to snatch a point at the death.

The fans are now active players off the field in trying to put a financial bid forward which will save the club. It promises to be a busy summer.

May 5 1999
Chester fans are meeting at the Town Hall at on Saturday to march down to the Deva. City survived the possibility of playing their last ever match in October but it may just have been a stay of execution. Unless a buyer comes forward in the next week or so then the club is likely to be wound up. So City's fixture with Rotherham really could be the last ever League match.

April 29 1999
The re-union of the famous Five forward line from 1964-5 at the Deva on Saturday was followed on Monday by an ISA meeting at which Grenville Millington, City's excellent goalkeeper during their 1974-5 League Cup run was the guest speaker.

It was good to cherish our heroes as they have been neglected by the club in past years. If the present tide of sentiment could be harnessed with financial backing we would not just look to a proud past but also to a future.

April 22 1999
Time for an old boys' re-union on Saturday as Chester's "Famous Five" forwards are re-united. In season 1964-5 Jimmy Humes, Mike Metcalf, Elfed Morris, Hugh Ryden and Gary Talbot all scored more than 20 goals in League and Cup. Chester were rampant that year, scoring 119 League goals.

Before the game with Halifax, City fans will present their heroes with commemorative t-shirts which proclaim that their feat will never be equalled.

April 15 1999
The uncertainty drags on at the Deva. Only 1766 turned out on Tuesday night to see a cracking match with high flying Brentford. This included a sizeable following from the Bees who were thanked for their fund raising efforts on our behalf last November.

The low home turn out is indicative of the fatigue fans are feeling as the prospective buy out by a mysterious consortium drags on. It's getting worrying now.

April 8 1999
A very creditable draw snatched from the cauldron of the Vetch Field was followed on Monday by a comprehensive demolition of Barnet 3-0. If it hadn't been for the financial turmoil this season Chester would surely have challenged for promotion but – after all we've been through – the fans will happily settle for midtable obscurity. Now that League status is assured for next season will the mystery buyers come out of the woodwork? Please?

April 1 1999
The sale of Alex Smith to Port Vale for £75,000 was the sacrifice necessary to ensure Chester's survival until the end of the season. City's status as a League club was all but secured with a welcome 3-2 win against Plymouth at the weekend. Luke Beckett got Chester back in the game with a superb individual goal after they had gone behind. Thankfully the transfer deadline has gone or he might have been on his way too.

March 25 1999
This time last year Chester fans waited, biting their fingernails to see if City could sell a player before the transfer deadline to ensure survival. We find ourselves in the same position this week. Some things never change – including our inability to win on Shropshire soil. Despite running rings round the Shrews last week, City failed to win at Gay Meadow at the thirteenth attempt.

March 18 1999
Chester City have now been in administration since October. The sale of players, the efforts of the fans and a match shown on sattelite TV have enabled the club to survive. A consortium of businessmen is reported to be ready to buy the club but we still await a positive announcement. The strain is beginning to show on fans and players alike. Let's hope the silence is broken soon and we have a future to look forward to.

March 11 1999
A fine draw at table topping Cardiff last Friday set up Chester's home match with rock bottom Scarborough nicely. A win would have put City on the fringe of the play-offs. The battling Sea Dogs should have been swept aside in City's second half onslaught. But, unable to administer the killer blow, Chester were undone by two late goals. All very disappointing after the fans' great efforts on Monday to raise £6,000 through an auction of promises.

March 4 1999
A wonderful goal from Nick Richardson, on a par with Dennis Bergkamp's finish last week, brought Chester level with Carlisle on Saturday. Not content to settle for the 1-1 draw to which we have become accustomed at the Deva this season, Beckett and Woods combined to set up the winner for Murphy. He's not bitter and neither were we.

February 24 1999
The Cheshire cats couldn't make it a double dose of Devon cream as they lost to Plymouth on Tuesday night. But at least they brought a three points haul back after a fine 3-0 win at Torquay at the weekend. Players and fans had clubbed together so that the stay in the West Country could be extended over four days. Another example of the spirit of co-operation that exists at the club at the moment.

February 17 1999
Way back in 1983 Chester pulled off a 1-0 win at Peterborough on a freezing cold February night. The biggest cheer of the evening followed the announcement that Ken and Deirdre of Coronation Street were getting back together. Last Saturday City won another hard fought victory over the Posh and the next day – Ken and Deirdre were having the last waltz at the Valentine's disco. The more things change....

February 10 1999
Some goalless draws are scintillating and full of incident. Chester vs. Exeter last Saturday was unfortuately not one of those. Not even the appearance of Uri Geller doing the half time draw could transform the game form a mind numbing as opposed to mind bending encounter. This was Chester's tenth draw out of fourteen home games – sponsors from the Pools companies are being sought.

February 3 1999
The main stand at Mansfield Town had a former life – at Hurst Park Race Course. What it did to come back at Field Mill, I'm not sure. It certainly witnessed a one horse race in the second half last Saturday. Once Chester had gifted them a goal there was no catching the Stags. Consolation for City fans was the news that, at another Racecourse Ground, the home side had lost 5-0.

January 27 1999
After a first win last year, Chester reverted to their usual Abbey (Stadium) habit of failing to beat Cambridge last Saturday. In truth the Fenmen look a well organised outfit and on course for promotion. City fans drew consolation in the award winning bacon rolls and by far out-singing the strangely subdued home supporters. Another City bogey team looms on Saturday as we travel to Mansfield.

January 20 1999
The atmosphere at the Deva Stadium was superb last Friday as fans from all over came to Chester's match with Brighton for the third Fans United event. Over forty clubs were represented with some travelling from Norway, Sweden and Germany to be there. Oxford fans brought their hundred yard, 92-club scarf, Lincoln their air raid siren, others their banners. Later in the Town Hall, a party celebrated our love of the people's game.

January 13 1999
All eyes on the Deva Stadium on Friday night as Fans United Three takes place. There will be supporters ther from Norwich, Bournemouth, Lincoln, Hull City, Oxford, who will be bringing their "longest scarf in the world", and many others besides. Let's hope that Chester's match with Brighton is a good game to go with what should be a fine event. Altogether now: "The Fans United will Never be Defeated!"

January 6 1999
Calling all football fans. Chester's match with Brighton on Friday 16th is to be the third Fans United Day. Dubbed "The United Colours of Football" the match will be a chance for fans of all clubs to come along in their team's colours and show solidarity in the face of the forces which are tearing apart the game as we know it. Be there and make it a night to remember.

December 30 1998
Simply survival as a Football League Club is my main hope for Chester City – which is pretty similar to last year. I hope that more football clubs will be taken over and run by the people that matter – their fans. Football is being ruined by Mr Big's on an ego trip, spending beyond their means then taking their loaned money back and clearing off. Together we have the power to keep them out of the game for good.

December 23 1998
What every Chester fan would like to get for Christmas has been voiced by Mark Howell, Chairman of the ISA. He speaks for us all when he says the best present we could have is a rescue package. Chester fans have pulled out all the stops since the club went into financial crisis – they deserve League Football in the City. After all, a Chester fan is for life, not just for crises.

December 16 1998
At last a win for City – the 1-0 result against Darlington was their first victory since 3rd October. The goal was a beauty – Richardson and Smith combined with the latter floating over a perfectly chipped cross for young Andy Shelton to nod in at the far post. It meant that everyone went to the Christmas Social with light hearts.

December 9 1998
Chester's match against Brighton on Friday 15th January is going to be televised live. It seems a perfect opportunity to highlight the plight of Nationwide League clubs in crisis. It looks certain to be designated Fans United Three (Snappier title to follow!) with supporters of all clubs invited to come and stand together for the sake of the League Football in general. Watch this space!

December 2 1998
Because of injuries and suspensions City were forced to give full League debuts to three youngsters at Brentford last Saturday. It was a brave team performance but ultimately pointless once again.We hope that our off the field problems can be sorted out soon. Once more we saluted another superb display of solidarity from fellow fans. Ron Noades inspired the Brentford faithful to have a bucket collection which raised about £900.

November 24 1998
The new experimental flourescent yellow ball came into play at the Deva on Saturday. Rochdale brought out an away kit which matched it exactly. At one point it looked like Rochdale must have had someone collecting them in the car park as their defenders hoofed balls over the main stand three times in a minute. One slack piece of defending meant that Dale did steal a share of the points.

November 17 1998
In order to get last Saturday's calamitous FA Cup defeat out of the system, Kevin Ratcliffe put the first team out at Altrincham in the Cheshire Cup. Unfortunately they lost there as well. But on a brighter note the Alty fans donated money to our survival campaign on behalf of smaller professional football clubs. We are still basking in the euphoria of an audience with the Sports Minister last week.

November 10 1998
Chester went to the top of the League on Wednesday. A coachload of City supporters went down to London to present their petition to new League chief Richard Scudamore. Next stop was the Houses of Parliament to lobby Tony Banks and members of the all-party committee on football. Market forces have been allowed to dictate to football for too long – it's time for the fans to reclaim the game.

November 3 1998
The hard work of Chester supporters brought results again last Saturday. The attendance for City's match against Shrewsbury was almost a thousand up on the equivalent fixture last season and a bucket collection raised £1300. The struggle goes on. But glib comments such as Mark Lawrenson's "Chester is not a football town" don't do us any favours.

October 27 1998
Chester City FC is now in the hands of an administrator. So we, the long suffering fans, wait with baited breath to see what cuts will be made, which players sold. But we are not sitting back. The fans are continuing their campaign to get more people to matches and to make Chester City a community club in a real way. Viva Deva!

October 20 1998
A superb response to a supporters' campaign drew a double than average crowd to the Deva on Saturday. It was an emotional occasion with players, staff and supporters standing together in the fight for survival. Thankfully a short stay of execution was granted in the County Court hearing on Monday and the club's administrator has a little more time to find an elusive investor. It's still a case of watch this space.

October 13 1998
I spoke too soon. No doubt Rod Thomas will continue to terrorise Third Division defences but sadly not for Chester. He was sold with indecent haste to Brighton last week. Most fans suspect that this is a symptom of the club's continuing cash crisis. With another winding up order looming on Monday the message is "Get down to the Deva on Saturday" – the Swansea match might be our last.

October 6 1998
Due to injuries to team mates, Rod Thomas has been playing in a much more forward role for City. He's struck a rich vein of form with two goals last Saturday to star in a brilliant team performance at Scarborough. He was already unpopular with the locals there because Chester gazzumped them for his signiature last year. We're hoping he continues to torment Third Division defences.

September 30 1998
Chester and Cardiff played out a pulsating 2-2 draw last Saturday. It was top rate entertainment. Shaun Reid starred in midfield and was substituted before he dropped from exhaustion. The diminutive strike force of Wright and Thomas terrorised the visitors' defence. On work rate and possession Chester deserved to win – but we must learn to hold on to a lead.

September 23 1998
There was no giant killing at the Deva arena on Tuesday night but Chester's finest held their own against a rampant Sunderland. The visitors would beat half the Premiership on current form and City were not disgraced to lose 0-1. Even better, it warmed the heart to see Shaun Reid back to his combative best and debutant Andy Shelton performing so well he was named man of the match.

September 16 1998
Chester had a magnificent away following at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday. A three-nil defeat to a sharp Sunderland side did nothing to dim their spirits. A special banner bore a message for the FA "Don't let the little clubs die". Our club, our game is being taken from us. We don't want to see it sacrificed on the altar of commercialism.

September 9 1998
Mixed fortunes for Chester on their travels this week. A good victory at Exeter was followed by a defeat at in-form Posh. In both games the players could not be faulted for their efforts and the travelling fans applauded them off on each occasion. We're looking forward to following them to The Stadium of Light next week. That'll be over a thousand miles in ten days.

September 2 1998
Cambridge have long been a bogey team for City and, despite a blip last season, normal service was resumed at the Deva last night as Chester crashed 0-3. But for a fine win at Southend on Saturday we'd be bottom. City were grateful not just for three points but for the home fans' superb gesture to have a whip round for the hard pressed Chester players.

August 25 1998
The crisis at Chester City deepened this week as once again the players have not been paid. Many of them, with families to provide for and mortgages to pay are at the end of their tether. Serious questions must be asked of the chairman, Mr Guterman, about how this point has been reached after the lucrative sale of three players in March and a rescue package had been agreed.

August 12 1998
After an abject opening day performance in which City lost to ten man Orient, Chester fans travelled to Vale Park last night in masochistic mood. Our groundless optimism was rewarded as City pulled off the surprise of the round with a 2-1 win. The same eleven who flopped last Saturday were brilliant last night. Will it be Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde we see on Saturday?

August 5 1998
Kevin Ratcliffe looks to have made some astute signings over the summer with Luke Beckett, from Barnsley, one to watch as the new season begins. But it's events off the field giving City fans sleepless nights once again. More than 200 supporters packed in to a Chester pub to form a new Independent Supporters Club. Now its time for our voice to be heard.

30 April 1998
Chester fans had long awaited the return to the Moss Rose, scene of our exile in the wilderness of a few years ago. It was a highly charged game, not only with nostalgia, but because Macclesfield gained promotion. City’s team and fans played a full part in creating a superb match atmosphere but it was the Silkmen’s day and we didn’t begrudge them at all.

23 April 1998
Just when we thought the season couldn’t end early enough, City put on a brilliant display to beat high flying Colchester. It was mainly due to some inspired performances from teenagers, Wright, Dobson, Giles and Shelton. The scoring began when Spencer Whelan launched a clearance from the centre circle which somehow ended up in the back of the net. Despite later claims to the contrary, no-one was more surprised than Spencer himself.

16 April 1998
Chester got plenty of mentions on the radio last Saturday but sadly it was because Doncaster Rovers lost their League status when they lost to us. There but for the grace of God go we – we all thought. Easter is the season of resurrection, maybe next season will see Doncaster rising again from the Conference.

9 April 1998
Chester are now in freefall down the Division Three table. Their heaviest defeat of the season last Saturday compounded the trauma caused by difficulties off the pitch recently.City captain Gary Bennett put in overtime at the final whistle as he held an impromptu conference with disgruntled fans by the corner flag.

2 April 1998
There can’t be many Chester fans with a full set of fingernails left after a tense few days. The transfer deadline last Thursday seems to have brought reprieve from the threatened winding up order. Defenders Alsford and Jenkins both joined Dundee United and the promising McKay went to Everton. The money from the deals is welcome as City should now be able to pay their bills.

24 March 1998
City’s match at Peterborough last Saturday was a pale shadow of the thrilling clash between the same two sides earlier this season. Both have lost form badly this year. But Chester fans now have a more urgent concern as the club faces a second winding up order. The High Court hearing is fixed for April Fool’s Day but it’s no joking matter.

17 March 1998
Chester fans danced to a new beat on Saturday when a drummer roused the supporters to several courses of the theme from The Great Escape. What an appropriate choice that was as Notts County escaped from the Deva with all three points. City outplayed their high flying opponents but couldn’t deliver the killer blow and now face a three weeks route march to Peterborough, Swansea and Exeter.

10 March 1998
Chester’s play-off push is faltering after only winning one in their last nine fixtures. They are still in touch with the chasing pack but need to recover their scoring touch. So too does Gary Bennett who last found the net against Notts County at the beginning of November. As the runaway League leaders visit the Deva on Saturday, we all hope Gary has a touch of deja vue.

3 March 1998
City fans know what it’s like to be a club in exile after the two years we spent commuting to Macclesfield. So we have every sympathy with Brighton supporters having to make the long haul to Gillingham just to watch a home match. But we could have done without our players allowing themselves to be rolled over by a team with only one previous League win under their belts. That’s taking sympathy too far.

25 February 1998
We can only speculate at what used to happen at Chester's Roman amphitheatre hundreds of years ago. It's likely that some of the entertainment was enjoyed at the expense of others' misfortune – if so, that ancient tradition continued at the Deva last Saturday. City fans were gleeful not only because of four second half goals against Rotherham but, rather cruelly, at the spectacle of two opponents receiveing the equivalent of the thumbs down – the dreaded red card.

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