Football Club were founded in 1885 as an amalgamation
of Chester Rovers and Old King’s Scholars and
initially played their home games at Faulkner Street
in the Hoole area of the city. For the first five years
of their existence they only played friendlies until
joining the Combination League in 1890. A first senior
trophy, the Cheshire Senior Cup, was won in 1895 and
in 1898 the club relocated to the Old Showground also
in Hoole. The stay was only brief as, twelve months
later, the club were forced to temporarily disband when
the ground was lost to housing.
1901 a new home was found in Whipcord Lane and the club
went from strength to strength, winning the Combination
League in 1909 after finishing runners-up in the preceding
five seasons. The early 1900s saw the first of Chester's
Welsh Cup victories, against Connah's Quay in 1908,
(further victories followed in 1933 and 1946). By now
the club had moved to the much loved Stadium, in Sealand
Road, which remained home for 84 years until the final
game against Rotherham in April 1990. In 1910 Chester
were elected to the Lancashire Combination and after
the First World War were founder members of the Cheshire
County League which they won in 1922, 1926 and 1927.
The appointment of Charlie Hewitt as manager in 1930
saw a concerted effort to attain League status and crowds
flocked to the Stadium to see the goalscoring exploits
of Salford school master Arthur Gale who scored an incredible
73 goals in 39 League games. On June 1st 1931 Chester
were elected to the Football League, in place of Nelson,
and throughout the 1930s never finished outside the
top 10 in Division Three North. In 1933 Chester hammered
Second Division Fulham 5-0, their finest FA Cup performance,
and in 1936 the club achieved their highest League victory,
a 12-0 win over York City.
struggled in the years following the Second World War
but were well served by stalwarts Ray Gill (a record
406 appearances), Ron Hughes, Eric Lee and Tommy Astbury.
In 1964/65 the ”Famous Five“ forward line
of Talbot, Metcalf, Ryden, Morris and Humes scored 116
of Chester’s record 119 League goals while, in
the FA Cup, the club were narrowly beaten 2-1 by League
champions Manchester United after leading at half time.
Promotion from Division Four was achieved under Ken
Roberts in 1974/75. The club also reached the League
Cup Semi-Final where they were narrowly defeated by
Aston Villa following wins over League champions Leeds
United (the 3-0 victory is arguably the club’s
greatest result) and Newcastle United. The late 1970s
saw the emergence of Ian Rush, who became the club’s
record transfer when he moved to Liverpool for £300,000.
Relegation in 1982 was followed by a name change, to
Chester City, in 1983 and three years later Harry McNally
led the club back into Division Three.
sale of the Sealand Road ground in 1990 saw Chester
forced to play their home games at Macclesfield for
two years. Unfortunately a return to the city, and the
new 6,000 capacity Deva Stadium, culminated in relegation
although there was one bright spot when Stuart Rimmer
broke Gary Talbot’s league scoring record. The
popular striker went on to score a total of 135 League
goals for Chester. In 1994 Graham Barrow led City back
to Division Two but the yo-yo existence continued with
relegation in 1995. Former Everton and Wales captain,
Kevin Ratcliffe, led the club to the play-offs in 1997
and was also in charge during the traumatic 1998/99
season when the club went into administration and almost
folded due to financial problems. In July 1999 controversial
American, Terry Smith, purchased the club and quickly
installed himself as manager. However, Chester struggled
at the foot of the table and despite the belated appointment
of Ian Atkins the club were relegated to the Conference,
after 69 years in the Football League, following a heartbreaking
home defeat to Peterborough United on the final day
of the season.
the 2001/02 season Chester were facing a further relegation
down to the Unibond League but Smith sold the club to
Liverpool businessman Stephen Vaughan in October 2001
and results started to improve on the field following
the appointment of Mark Wright as manager at the start
The revival continued into the 2002/03
season when a host of new signings took Chester to the
Conference play-offs. Two hard fought games against
Doncaster Rovers, in the semi-final, saw Chester face
a devastating defeat on penalties but the club were
to bounce back strongly from this setback. Based around
a strong defence, and the 49 goal partnership of Daryl
Clare and Darryn Stamp, City took the Conference by
storm in 2003/04 and with only four defeats in 42 games
deservedly secured a place back in the Football League.
Promotion was guaranteed with a 1-0 victory over Scarborough
in front of a delirious capacity crowd at the Deva Stadium
who celebrated Chester’s first championship in
Unfortunately, the next four seasons
back in the Football League, saw a succession of managers
and a series of struggles against relegation. City started
the 2008/09 with Simon Davies in charge but the former
youth team coach was replaced by Mark Wright in November
for his third spell as manager. Sadly, the departure
of many experienced players during the transfer window
saw City relying on youth team players for the remainder
of the campaign and the club were relegated back to
the Football Conference. Their final Football League
game, on May 2nd 2009, resulted in a 2-1 home defeat
During the summer Chester were placed
into administration by Stephen Vaughan and were given
an automatic ten point deduction by the Football Conference.
In a controversial move, the Vaughan family bought back
the club and transferred the ownership to a new company,
Chester City 2004 Ltd. However the CVA agreed with the
creditors was thrown out by HMRC resulting in a further
fifteen point deduction as the FA refused to accept
the new club’s affiliation.
Unfortunately the financial problems
that had dogged the club prior to administration quickly
returned. On the field, manager Mick Wadsworth was replaced
by the experienced Jim Harvey in October. Although there
was a brief upturn in results the appointment of Morrell
Maison as Director of Football heralded the departure
of Harvey at the end of the year.
Chester started 2010 with a team of
untried youngsters as more players departed the club.
On February 6th the club played their last ever game,
a 2-1 home defeat to Ebbsfleet United. Three days later
the club were unable to field a team to play at Forest
Green Rovers and the next home fixture, against Wrexham,
was called off when the council served a prohibition
notice over unpaid police bills.
On February 11th Chester were suspended
by the Football Conference and two weeks later expelled
from the league. The club were finally wound up in the
High Courts on March 10th 2010 in the year of their
While the old club was falling apart the supporters
group, City Fans United, was already beginning to prepare
for the worst and when Chester City was wound up the
fans were in an a strong position to launch a phoenix
club. At the start of May the lease to the Deva Stadium
was secured by the supporters group and Chester Football
Club was officially reborn on Thursday May 20th 2010.
Neil Young was unveiled as the manager of the reformed
Chester and along with assistant Gary Jones set about
assembling a squad from scratch for the supporters owned
club. Young arrived from Colwyn Bay having experienced
two successful seasons with the Welshmen which had culminated
in promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier League a few weeks
Chester FC was placed in Evo-Stik League Division 1
North, at step four of the National League System, and
played their first ever game, a friendly fixture at
Colwyn Bay on July 10th 2010. On August 24th the Blues
took to the field for their first competitive game which
resulted in a 1-1 draw at Warrington Town with Rob Hopley
having the distinction of scoring the club's first goal.
Two weeks later Trafford were the visitors for the first
match at the newly sponsored Exacta Stadium and 2,734
supporters were treated to a goal feast as the new look
team won 6-0. Michael Wilde netted a hat-trick and he
went on to score 36 league goals that season, including
five trebles, in a total of 107.
Chester won the league title at Garforth Town on a dramatic
final day. As the Blues were losing 2-1 in Yorkshire,
nearest challengers Skelmersdale United were beating
Ossett Albion 7-2 meaning that Neil Young's team secured
the champions by the narrow margin of two goals.
It was local-born captain George Horan who lifted the
trophy that day and the following year he was lifting
championship silverware for a second time when Chester
won the Evo-Stik Premier League at the first time of
asking. The title was wrapped up, against closest rivals
Northwich Victoria, at the Exacta Stadium on Easter
Monday. In front of 5009 supporters the close neighbours
fought out a 1-1 draw with Matt McGinn scoring the crucial
equaliser five minutes from time. In the end the Blues
finished 17 points clear of Northwich having totalled
100 points and scored 102 goals.
The success story continued in 2012/13 when a third
title was celebrated as the Blues ran away with the
Blue Square North by a margin of 16 points over Guiseley.
Records continued to fall as Chester netted more than
100 goals for the third consecutive season and a record
breaking 107 points were accumulated. Another thrilling
campaign was capped off when the Cheshire Senior Cup
returned to the city for the first time since 1932 following
a 2-1 victory over Stalybridge Celtic at Witton Albion.
Chester struggled to adapt to the national Conference
and Young was replaced by Steve Burr in January 2014.
Despite the change at the top the team were relegated
but then given a reprieve when Hereford United were
demoted. During summer 2014 the club moved to full-time
football for their second season in the Conference.
Sumner [Official club historian]