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APRIL 2005
29 April 2005

Chester City have appointed Keith Curle to succeed Ian Rush as manager. Curle has signed a one year contract and will begin work on Monday. Curle was until recently manager at League Two side Mansfield Town, his first managerial role following a distinguished playing career of nearly 700 games.

Curle was born in Bristol in 1963 and began his playing career in 1981 as an apprentice at Bristol Rovers, making 25+11 appearances and scoring four goals. Ironically he scored on his league debut for Rovers against Chester back in 1981.

Two years later he moved to Torquay United. He scored five goals in 18 appearances before another move took him to Bristol City for £10,000 in 1984. He made 139+10 appearances for the Robins, scoring one goal in a three season spell at Ashton Gate.

In 1987 Curle moved for £150,000 to Reading making 40 appearances in his first season before being snapped up by Wimbledon for £500,000 in October 1988. He made 109+2 appearances for the Wombles, scoring four goals in the process.

He became Britain’s most expensive defender when he left Wimbledon for Manchester City in the summer of 1991 for £2.5m.

By now Curle was an England ‘B’ international and not long after he joined the Maine Road club he picked up three senior international caps under the then national manager Graham Taylor.

Curle spent five seasons in Manchester making 205 appearances, scoring 13 goals before another £600,000+ move to Wolverhampton Wanderers. He made 182+2 appearances in a Wolves shirt scoring 12 goals in a four year stay at Molineux.

Next up were Sheffield United who Curle joined in July 2000. A further 69+4 matches were played for the Blades before Curle ended his playing career with 12+0 appearances at Barnsley in 2002. His career total games played is an impressive 692.

In December 2002 Curle was appointed player manager at Mansfield Town where he was in charge of just over 100 games before departing in November 2004. During his spell at Field Mill he took the Stags to a play-off final where they lost out on penalties to Huddersfield Town.

Before landing the Chester job Curle had spent time watching City at home to Bristol Rovers and last weekend down at Leyton orient. He said: “I believe the foundations are already in place at Chester and I want to be their manager. I don’t apply for jobs just for the sake of it. The Chester job really interests me and I want to be successful.

I attended Chester’s home match against Bristol Rovers on Saturday and recognised Chester as being organised and professional from behind the scenes. I found the staff at the club welcoming and friendly. Saturday provided an opportunity for me to do my homework. I’m not a person that sneaks into a club and I’m not a person that wants to make a noise. I was keen to see how the club operated from 2pm onwards on a match-day.

I was interested to see the team warm-up and I wanted to take in the surroundings before kick-off.”
Both Sean Hessey and Joe O’Neill are suspended for tomorrow’s last home game of the season after picking up straight red cards at Leyton Orient last Saturday.

With new manager Keith Curle taking over the reigns on Monday, caretaker manager David Bell will take charge tomorrow and he may also be without Michael Branch who has a groin strain, Phil Bolland who is still suffering from an injury picked up at Brisbane Road, and Darren Edmondson with a calf injury picked up against Bristol Rovers. Michael Brown is also suffering through illness and doubtful.

Tomorrows visitors Northampton Town lie in eighth place, just one place and two points behind a play-off spot. The Cobblers are expected to bring a large following to the Deva for this game and theyll be looking for their ninth league victory away from Sixfields this season.

The sides last met on a cold November night when the Blues drew 1-1 at Sixfields. A great free-kick from Kevin Ellison rescued Citys point that night as the Blues had five players booked and saw Cortez Belle and Mark Aizlewood sent-off.

The last time we met.
28 April 2005

The club have announced details of the 2005/06 season ticket prices including a new Super Saver deal available up to 31 May. Details here.
The reserves lost their final Pontins Holiday League game of the season 4-1 at Burnley last night. Trailing by a goal at half-time, Paul Rutherford equalised for the Blues on 57 minutes, latching on to a loose back pass to score past Mark Crossley from close range. This was Paul’s first goal for the reserves. However it was the Clarets who finished the stronger and further goals on 61, 81 and 88 minutes saw the home side run out comfortable winners.

Chester City: Waite, Hunter (Wade 84) Carney, Cooke, Ventre, Walsh, Lynch, Woolcott (McCoy 73), McEvatt, Booth, Rutherford (Mealand 57).

Reserve team fixtures | Reserve league table
26 April 2005

The announcement of City’s new manager is expected to take place on Friday, the new man in charge will then be unveiled to the crowd prior to Saturday’s final home game of the season against Northampton Town.

Speaking in the local press the chairman said: “Prior to the weekend, we will make a formal offer to one of the candidates, and it is my intention to unveil the new manager to our supporters, just prior to the home match against Northampton Town at the weekend.”

Three candidates are believed to have so far been interviewed, they are Keith Curle, John Hollins and Owen Brown, while current aretaker boss David Bell must also come into the reckoning. Whether the appointment comes from these of course remains to be seen.

25 April 2005

The youth team lost their final Merit League game of the season at Deva Stadiun this afternoon when they were beaten 2 -1 by Doncaster Rovers.
24 April 2005

City’s mini revival came to a shuddering halt at Orient as the Blues lost 2-0 and had two more players sent-off. Goals from teenager Efe Echanomi and a penalty from Matt Lockwood gave the O’s a two goal half-time lead that they never looked like losing. City hardly mustered a shot on goal all game though their cause wasn’t helped by the loss of defender Phil Bolland through injury after 16 minutes.

Caretaker manager David Bell said after the defeat: “I was disappointed that we got beat, but I thought we created as many chances in the first half as Orient. I thought they took their first goal very well, but I’m sure Sean Hessey was very disappointed with the way he gave the penalty away and with the way he eventually got himself sent off. I was disappointed with the result, but not our performance. I thought we continued to battle despite going down to ten men. I was angry about Phil Bolland having to come off and I don’t think Joe O’Neill should have been sent off. I will look at the video before deciding.”

The Blues disciplinary problems continue at an alarming rate. As mentioned, Sean Hessey and Joe O’Neill were both given their marching orders by an indifferent referee as Chester’s red card count for this season now stands at 11. While bookings for Paul Carden and Ryan Lowe took the yellow card tally for this season to a staggering 101, by a long chalk the worst record in the Football League which is probably going to result in an FA fine that the club could well do without.
City fans are able to pre-purchase tickets for the last game of the season at Oxford United at a discount rate. Tickets will be available from the club office this week during normal office hours (10:00-16:00hrs) and after next Saturday’s home game with Northampton Town. This will be our first visit to the Kassam Stadium.

Seat prices in advance are: Adult £15.50 (normally £18.50), Concessions for students on production of an NUS card £12.00, under 16s and senior citizens £9.50. Wheelchair users will be charged £15.50 in advance, concessions £9.50.

19 April 2005

Striker Michael Branch looks set to return to the City squad tomorrow as the Blues make the trip to east London to play Leyton Orient. Branch has missed the last two matches with a groin injury. Caretaker manager David Bell has hinted that he may stick with the 4-3-3 formation that has brought four points from his two games in charge. One player who won’t be featuring though is defender Darren Edmondson who limped off during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Bristol Rovers with a calf injury.

The sides last met at Deva Stadium in early November when a great headed equaliser from Cortez Belle brought City a point from the 1-1 match.

This is City’s first trip back to Brisbane Road (though the youth team played there in the FA Youth Cup) since the great 2-1 victory there on 15 April 2000 during the height of Ian Atkins’ great escape era, Carl Heggs and Neil Fisher with the goals on that day for City who were backed by a vociferous support throughout.

Brisbane Road (The Matchroom Stadium) itself is currently undergoing major redevelopment with just two sides of the ground available at present. The capacity is set to 4,913 and Chester fans have been allocated 500 seats in the north wing of the East Main Stand.

The last time we met | Leyton Orient 1 Chester City 2 [15 April 2000]
20 April 2005

Former Chester player Nelson Stiffle died recently in Brisbane, Australia at the age of 76. The Indian born outside right played seven league games, scoring twice, in the 1951/52 season having joined Chester from Ashton United late in 1951.

Nelson moved to Altrincham in summer 1952 and was a regular at Moss Lane for the next two seasons. He was given the chance to resurrect his league career when he was transferred to Chesterfield in March 1954 and went on to play for Bournemouth, Exeter and Coventry with his final Football League game coming in the 1960/61 season.

Nelson emigrated to Australia at the start of the 1960s and played for Bankstown in the New South Wales League where he later became coach.

Chas Sumner
Striker Robbie Foy will remain at Chester until the end of the season after his loan period from Liverpool was extended yesterday.
19 April 2005

Two second half goals were enough to give Carlisle United Reserves a 2-0 win over City at Brunton Park yesterday afternoon. The Blues play their last match of the season away to Burnley next week. As a result of the latest round or results Manchester United have clinched the title.

Reserve team fixtures | Reserve league table

18 April 2005

Caretaker manager David Bell (left) was delighted after seeing his side remain undefeated following his second match in charge at Deva Stadium.

The Blues, two-down at the break, fought back to earn a priceless point against Bristol Rovers that seals their place in League Two for another season. And with that pressure now off the club, chairman Steve Vaughan will be putting a bitterly disappointing season behind him as he takes stock and builds for another assault next term.

Three interviews were being held today for the vacant manager post, it’s likely that others will follow, however chairman Vaughan has said that no appointment will be announced until towards the end of the season.

Bell hasn't ruled himself out of contention either after tasting the managerial role for the last two games. He said: “The chairman speaks to me most days and it’s just about me working hard each day, but obviously the harder I work and the harder the players work it probably gives Mr Chairman a nice problem.

I did see Keith Curle in the main stand on Saturday and there were probably other people watching the game and quite rightly they’d like to be manager of Chester City, but if I can make it a little bit more difficult in them getting the job, then why not me? But I’m enjoying myself and hopefully we can carry on.”

Once again the crowd on Saturday was little over 2,000 causing concern for Vaughan. He said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank the 2,475 people who attended, 2,015 of whom were diehard Chester City supporters, the remainder having made the long journey up from Bristol.

As regards my own position, I now need to take stock seriously of just how much more money I am prepared to throw at this football club unsecured. By the time we play Oxford United on 7 May, my input of capital this season alone will exceed £500,000. I have done my bit this season, making the necessary finances available even though it has back-fired and left me holding the baby.

For me to be committed and motivated enough to pledge another half a million pounds next season, I’m calling on the support of this City to turn out in their numbers for our final home game on 30 April against Northampton Town.”

On Saturday it was midfielder Stewart Drummond who earned the acclaim after his second-half brace. had pinned back Ian Atkins’ Bristol Rovers who remarkably picked up their 21st draw of the season. “We can go to Leyton Orient on Saturday a little bit more relaxed and still go with a similar system and make it exciting for those supporters who follow us. It’s fantastic that the club is now mathematically safe from relegation and everyone could see the relief on the players faces after the game on Saturday.” added Bell.
15 April 2005

David Bell takes charge of his second game tomorrow as City entertain Bristol Rovers, one of his former clubs, at Deva Stadium (15:00hrs) knowing that victory will guarantee league safety for another season.

The Pirates are managed by a former City favourite Ian Atkins who performed miracles at the Deva five years ago taking over the managerial reins from Terry Smith when City were 12 points adrift and dead and buried, to give the Blues a fighting chance of league survival only to fall at the last hurdle as City were relegated to the Conference on the last day of the season in May 2000.

For tomorrow’s game, Bell welcomes back Phil Bolland from suspension but there are injury doubts over both Michael Branch and Michael Brown.

The two sides last met in December when City were well beaten 4-1 at the Memorial Stadium, Kevin Ellison scoring an equaliser for City that night.

The last time we met
14 April 2005

The club have terminated the contract of midfielder Ashley Sestanovich following “non-football related serious misdemeanours.” The former Sheffield United player made 3+4 appearances for the Blues.
13 April 2005

Goals from Gavin Lynch and Michael Walsh gave City a 2-1 victory in their last Pontins League reserve home game of the season against Stockport County in front of 61 people.

The Blues remain seventh spot and have two matches remaining at Carlisle United next Monday (14:00hrs) and at Burnley, who play reserve games at Accrington Stanley, on 27 April (19:00hrs).

Reserve team fixtures | Reserve league table
12 April 2005

Chairman Steve Vaughan has revealed that the club have been approached by an as yet unnamed north-west Premiership side in a bid to forge a link. The proposal would involve City taking on players from the Premiership side during the season. Crewe Alexandra have a similar link-up with Liverpool.

Meanwhile the club are also believed to be close to tying up a deal with the Football Association of Thailand. The proposed deal, could see young Thai players joining City’s School of Excellence programme and possibly senior Thai internationals joining Chester’s first-team squad.

Thai Government official Kriangsak Sirisambhand met with Vaughan recently and said: “It is an exciting prospect, football is very big in Thailand, it is the most popular sport. Hopefully we can formalise things quickly, and start working officially with Chester City. Stephen Vaughan has been very understanding, and very open in his discussions with us. We hope to link-up with one Premier League club, one club from the Football League, who we see as Chester, and possibly a Conference club will also be involved. We would then have contact with clubs at all levels of English football.”
11 April 2005
Chairman Steve Vaughan has made it clear that former manager Mark Wright won’t be returning to the Deva Stadium while he is still chairman. Vaughan put an end to rumours that the former manager had been tipped for an early return to the club he quit on the eve of the season.

Vaughan told the Evening leader: “While I’m in charge at Chester Mark Wright will never return as manager. I will make no apologies for Mark Wright walking away from the club the day before the season started – Mark Wright pressed the self-destruct button and walked out.

I have no apologies to make for Mark Wright walking away for the club and he will never return as manager while I remain here as chairman.”
Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Boston United leaves City needing one more victory to guarantee League safety for next season. For the second home game running, the Blues battled back from behind after conceding an early goal. They equalised on the stroke of half-time thanks to Robbie Booth’s first-ever goal for the first team and Ryan Lowe sealed the three points with a deflected free-kick on 77 minutes. Disappointingly the attendance of 2,040 was the second lowest at Deva Stadium this season.

A delighted David Bell remarked: “It was a fantastic performance. At first I thought Id made a mistake playing 4-3-3 but then we came good. Ryan Lowe thoroughly deserved his goal. He was full value for his man of the match award. It was a fantastic display.”

Kidderminster Harrierss point against Bury leaves them still mathematically able to catch City providing they win their remaining four matches and City, who have a superior goal difference, fail to pick up a point. Those matches are against Yeovil Town (H), Boston United (A), Grimsby Town (H) and Northampton Town (A).

Latest League Two Table
8 April 2005
Caretaker manager David Bell takes his first game in charge of City on Saturday as they entertain mid-table Boston United at Deva Stadium.

Assisted by physio Clive Goodyear, the former Blackpool, Rochdale and Bury player Bell, has the task of keeping City in the Football League and two more wins should see that aim achieved. It may not even need that should any of the sides below City fail to pick up points.

For tomorrow the Blues will be without central defender Phil Bolland as he serves a one match ban, and there are fitness doubt over Richard Hope (cold) and Michael Branch (groin) ahead of this crucial game.

Ahead of the game Bell said: “All Clive and I can do is get our heads down and carry on coaching the players. All the players have been super to Clive and I since we’ve taken over from Ian who was keen for me to wish them well for the rest of the season. The players had a lot of respect for Ian Rush, but now they realise we have to get on with things and the most important matter of trying to get a result this weekend. The players know we’re still not safe from relegation and want to finish the season on a high note. I hope we can all continue to pull together and ensure Chester has a future in the Football League. The players all know they need to work hard because it’s not only about Chester’s future it’s also about their careers.”

Boston United currently lie 12th, thanks largely to an impressive home record. On their travels they have won on three occasions and have a similar record to City’s. Former City favourite Daryl Clare will be absent from the side tomorrow, a clause in his selling contract to the Pilgrims prevented an appearance against his former club this season. The sides last met on the August Bank Holiday as City crashed 3-1 at York Street. Branch scoring a consolation goal from the penalty spot on a day that also saw a home debut for Paul Gascoigne.

The last time we met
Chairman Steve Vaughan has received nearly 40 applications so far for the vacant manager’s position at the Deva. Vaughan has stated that he won’t be rushed into naming the successor to Ian Rush.

“They will be considered on their merits and we will go through an appropriate interview process. Making the right appointment is important, particularly as the new manager will undoubtedly want to be assured that funds are available to make changes to the new squad during the close season.

I am not rushing into anything, and I still have an open mind about the position. One thing is for sure, whoever the successful applicant is, it will be a solo appointment, because the new boss will have to work in tandem with David Bell and Clive Goodyear. I am determined not to have too much upheaval again at this club.”

On his decision to sack Mark Aizlewood, which in turn led to Rush resigning, Vaughan told the Chronicle: “All I will say on the matter is that I believe that it was in the best interests of the club. The league table does not lie and I take full responsibility and apologise to our supporters.”
6 April 2005
After eight months in the job, Ian Rush has resigned as Chester City manager, stating that the sacking of his assistant Mark Aizlewood without his knowledge was the last straw.

The former Chester player was given his first managerial role in August 2004, taking over from Ray Mathias, and has been in charge of City for 41 games. His record in charge reads W14, L14, D13. Rush had been under pressure after a series of poor displays cumulating in a 5-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town recently that saw City slide dangerously close to the relegation zone.

Rush has made the following statement:

“Unfortunately, throughout my tenure, various events have gradually made it impossible for me to carry on. The club’s decision to terminate the contract of my assistant, Mark Aizlewood, without my consent was the final straw.

I was already considering my position after the much publicised comments from the club a few weeks ago. Loyalty is vital in football and I am a loyal person. When a valued member of my team is dismissed against my wishes, I have no option but to follow my principles. People never know what goes on behind the scenes and that will remain the case.

All I can say is that, in these extremely difficult circumstances, I believe that I was achieving the only goal I set myself – to keep Chester in the Football League. When you have to sell your best players at low prices, then are told there is no money for strengthening the squad, survival is the only target you can set yourself.

Since I came to Chester, the team has lost only 13 games in 41. We have steered the club, slowly but surely, away from the foot of the table where it was when I joined. Today the club is a good nine points away from relegation.

People talk of a slump but how can you slump from the foot of the table to nine points clear of relegation? As for the future, my team and I have plenty to offer in management and coaching and I hope to return to the game as soon as possible.

I wish Chester all the best for the future and would like to say thank you to the players who have been a pleasure to work with. I also wish to thank the supporters and ask them to get 100% behind the team for these next important matches.

I would like to thank the chairman for giving my first opportunity in management, I am certainly more experienced and wiser for it.”

A month ago chairman Steve Vaughan was reported to have offered the manager, and his assistant Mark Aizlewood, a pay-off to leave but it was rejected. Rush denied at the time any formal offer had been made.

City’s technical co-ordinator David Bell will take over first-team affairs in a caretaker capacity, assisted by the club’s physiotherapist Clive Goodyear.

Bell had his post as technical co-ordinator terminated at Chester in early March and joined Bath City as assistant to Gary Owers. However he lasted there only a week before being reinstated at Chester. He has previously been Manchester United Ladies boss and he has also held coaching posts at Bristol Rovers and Cardiff City. He holds a UEFA ‘A’ coaching badge.

Complete list of the club’s managers
The reserves re-arranged Pontins Holiday League game at Carlisle United this afternoon was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
4 April 2005

Assistant manager Mark Aizlewood has had his contract terminated by Chester City. Aizlewood was appointed at Chester with manager Ian Rush in August 2004. Rush’s position remains unchanged but he is due to meet with chairman Vaughan today and is reported to be considering his future after this latest development.

City chairman Steve Vaughan said: “We have terminated Mark Aizlewood’s contract with immediate effect. Our chief executive David Burford is negotiating the settlement formalities with Mr. Aizlewood and his advisers.”

3 April 2005
City suffered their first defeat in four matches at Darlington on Saturday as a Clyde Wijnhard penalty 15 minutes from time was all that separated the Blues from their opponents who are on the edge of the play-off zone.

To add to City’s woes defender Phil Bolland (left) picked up Chester’s ninth red card of the season three minutes from time and now faces a one match ban and will miss Saturday’s home game against Boston.

After the defeat manager Ian Rush said: “We fell behind but still felt that we could get something from the game. We were the better side but once they took the lead, they seemed to step up a gear and suddenly we were unable to get among them at the back. It seemed a fair penalty and I think the referee got that one right. But the sending off seemed harsh after the foul on Wijnhard. He seemed to go down very easy.”

As a result of their defeat the Blues slip to 21st in League Two. As mentioned, next up is Boston United who visit Deva Stadium on Saturday. The Pilgrims lie mid-table and have three away wins at Kidderminster Harriers, Cambridge United and Wycombe Wanderers.

Latest League Two table
Well done to the youth team who won away at York City 4-2 in their Merit League Northern Section Division Two match on Saturday to move fourth.

Youth team fixtures | Youth league table

1 April 2005
Chester make their first-ever visit to the Williamson Motors Stadium tomorrow as the Blues travel to Darlington looking for three more points to take them to their safety target of 50. Although the first half performance against Bury left a lot to be desired, the Blues have taken seven points from the last nine to ease their relegation worries, and they know that one more win will just about guarantee League football again for next season.

Darlington, who currently lie in eighth spot, are on the edge of the play-off zone. They relaunched their stadium last week with the opening of the new north stand. However, a crowd of almost 7,000 saw a surprise 2-0 home defeat to strugglers Kidderminster Harriers.

The two sides last met in August when the Quakers ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Deva Stadium, the same day that the club announced Ian Rush as their new manager.

Tomorrow’s game will be officiated by referee Phil Prosser from Yorkshire, the same official took charge of the away match at Southend United just before Christmas.

The last time we met
The youth team are scheduled to make to the trip to York City tomorrow for a Merit League Northern Section Division Two match. The Yorkshire side have lost all five of their league games to date and sit bottom of the table.



















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The squad building continues as Chester announce the signing of 25-year-old forward Dan Turner from Brackley Town.
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