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30 August 2004
Chester went down 3-1 at Boston United this afternoon, a defeat that leaves them at the foot of League Two. The Blues conceded a Danny Thomas goal as early as the third minute and went into the break two down following Zema Abbey’s header on the stroke of half-time.

Despite an improved performance in the second half, a twice-taken penalty by Courtney Pitt sealed the points for the home side. Michael Branch pulled a consolation goal back six minutes from time but City were well beaten and had five players booked to add to their troubles.

For his first game in charge, manager Ian Rush made two changes from Saturday’s starting line-up bringing in Ben Davies at the expense of Stewart Drummond and Cortez Belle for Kevin Rapley. Davies did a man-marking job on Paul Gascoigne in the second half and manager Rush was full of praise for the midfielder’s work-rate.

Rush said he “Couldn’t ask any more from the players in the second half, everyone worked hard.” and “I think we have to look at yesterday’s defeat in a positive way. I thought we were superb in the second half after I changed things round at half-time”.

League Two table.
29 August 2004
Manager Ian Rush and assistant Mark Aizlewood will be meeting the players today as they prepare for tomorrow’s Bank Holiday game at Boston United. Rush was introduced to the crowd prior to yesterday’s 0-3 defeat at the hands of Darlington and watched the match from the main stand throughout. Newly appointed Director of Football Ray Mathias took charge of team affairs on the day.

The Blues gifted all three goals and were content to play the long ball, and creating nothing, until the introduction in the second half of Ben Davies, Cortez Belle and later Paul Carden. Then City started to play football, passing the ball about on the ground and carving out several chances. It was all too late by then of course.

Tomorrow’s opponents Boston lie 19th in the table with five points from as many games and there should be a good crowd at York Street tomorrow as The Pilgrims are expected to give a debut to Paul Gascoigne after the former England midfielder came through a full week of training. Admission prices for the away terrace (Town End – not the end we had last time) are: adult £13.00, under-16 £6.50, over-65 £9.50.
Former Chester goalkeeper Jim MacLaren has died at the age of 83. Jim made 30 appearances for Chester in the late 1940s. You can read about Jim’s career here.
28 August 2004
Former Chester player Ian Rush has been appointed the new manager at Chester City. Rush became City’s most expensive export, and the costliest teenager in Britain, when Bob Paisley signed him for Liverpool back in May 1980 for £300,000 after scoring 17 goals in 38+1 matches. Rush went on to further his playing career at Liverpool, Juventus, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Wrexham. His career stats as a player read: 769+49 appearances 380 goals. For Wales Rush was capped 73 times and scored 28 goals.

Rush has recently been working part-time as a striker coach at Liverpool which he will now stop though he is keen to carry on his part-time role with the Wales u17 side.

Chairman Steve Vaughan said: “Ian is a high profile appointment for Chester City. His illustrious playing career is well chronicled and without doubt our strikers particularly can only benefit from his appointment. He brings with him a wealth of experience and I know our supporters will be excited by the appointment.”

New manager Rush said: “I have learned a lot in the last few years about coaching and I learned so much in my time on the coaching side at Liverpool, particularly from Gerard Houllier. I have been offered four or five managerial jobs in the past few years, but now I think is the right time to take a chance. This is the start of a new era. This is an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Chester have an excellent chairman in Stephen Vaughan who is extremely loyal and with his assistance I am sure we will make progress.”

Mark Aizlewood will be assistant manager and Ray Mathias has been appointed Director of Football.

Aizlewood’s career began at Newport County and took him to Luton Town, Charlton Athletic, Leeds United, Bradford City, Bristol City, Cardiff City, Aberystwyth Town, Cwmbran Town and Carmarthen Town where he was appointed coach in December 2003.

Complete list of former managers | Chester FC team pictures with Ian Rush
The draw for the first round of the LDV Trophy has taken place and Chester have been given an away tie against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The game will take place in the week commencing 27 September.

The full list of northern section ties is:

Bradford City v Accrington Stanley
Port Vale v Barnsley
York City v Blackpool
Mansfield Town v Darlington
Macclesfield Town v Chesterfield
Sheffield Wednesday v Chester City
Stockport County v Bury
Rochdale v Scarborough
Lincoln City v Doncaster Rovers
Hereford United v Scunthorpe United
Hartlepool United v Hull City
Huddersfield Town v Morecambe
Notts County v Wrexham
Carlisle United v Grimsby Town

26 August 2004
Chairman Steve Vaughan has said that a decision on the appointment of City’s new manager will be made next week.

The announcement comes as ex-Liverpool assistant manager, and former player, Phil Thompson is the latest name to be linked with the vacancy along with Steve McMahon, Ian Rush, John Aldridge and Stan Ternent. Four points over the bank holiday weekend will no doubt boost Ray Mathias’ chances of getting the job on a full-time basis as well.

Vaughan told the Daily Post: “I do not want this club to be at the bottom of the table at the beginning of September. Hopefully Ray can register the victories that all his hard work deserves. We will obviously have to take a decision one way or the other next week, and at the moment I am not ruling anything in or anything out.”
25 August 2004

It looks like Ray Mathias may have to venture into the loan market again as City are suffering an injury pile-up with their strike force. Michael Branch was substituted with a knee injury at Sunderland and strike partner on the night Cortez Belle also picked up a knock. With Daryl Clare (hernia), Darryn Stamp (ankle) and Kevin Rapley (ear infection) all sidelined it looks increasingly likely that a loan player will be bought in for Saturday’s home League Two game against Darlington.

City were outplayed at the sparsely populated Stadium of Light last night but managed to hold their own for 40 minutes, and indeed had a gilt-edged chance to take the lead through Michael Branch, before Sean Hessey inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net from a free-kick. Two further goals from set-pieces in the second period killed off the tie.

24 August 2004

The Blues make the trip to the Stadium of Light today for a first round Carling Cup tie at Championship side Sunderland, kick-off 20:00hrs. Manager Ray Mathias will be hoping that on-loan signing Alan Navarro can shake off the cramp he suffered towards the end of the game on Saturday in time for the tie.

We’ve been there before of course, in September 1998, when City lost a first-leg game in the same League Cup competition 3-0 in front of a bumper 20,618 crowd.
Admission prices for the match are: £10.00 (adult) £5.00 (concessions: u16, oap). Note that to apply for the concession price a ticket has to be pre-bought from the ticket office.
23 August 2004

Caretaker manager Ray Mathias praised on-loan signing Alan Navarro after his debut in the 1-1 draw at Bury on Saturday. Following Saturday’s game he said: “Alan needed a game and I’m sure he’ll benefit from coming through it. He’s a good passer of a ball and he brought Michael Branch into the play. It was obviously disappointing to see Alan going off with cramp towards the end of the game. I’m hoping Alan can be available for us tomorrow for our cup match at Sunderland. Cramp is a horrible thing, but hopefully he will recover okay and benefit from coming through Saturday’s match.”

Michael Branch gave City a half-time lead at Gigg Lane only to see his close-range strike cancelled out by Chris Porter goal on 60 minutes. City had to withstand quite a spell of pressure in the last 30 minutes and were denied a late chance on goal with Branch being upended on the edge of the box by ex-City defender Colin Woodthorpe when through on goal.
20 August 2004

Ray Mathias has returned to one of his former clubs to sign 23-year-old midfielder Alan Navarro on a one month loan from Tranmere Rovers. He made 33+11 appearances for Rovers last season, no goals scored.

Navarro began his career in the summer of 2000 as a trainee at Liverpool before being loaned out to Crewe Alexandra for two spells where he scored 1 goal in 14+3 appearances. He had a short loan spell at Tranmere where he scored 2 goals in 4+0 games before signing permanently from Liverpool for £225,000 in January 2002.
There appears confusion though as the official Chester website states that Navarro IS eligable to play in the Carling Cup at Sunderland on Tuesday night, Tranmere’s official site says he isn’t!
Chester travel the short distance to Bury tomorrow looking for their first win of the season under caretaker manager Ray Mathias. City’s only point to date came on the opening day at Notts County.

City chairman Steve Vaughan and his board have given Mathias permission to bring in one or two loan players should he need them. The current ankle ligament injury to Darryn Stamp and impending appointment with the surgeon next week for Daryl Clare have left City short on attacking options and that will be one area Mathias will consider strengthening. Whether anyone is drafted in in time for tomorrow or Tuesday’s match at Sunderland remains to be seen.

City’s vice-chairman Darren Liversage confirmed: “We have given Ray Mathias permission to inquire about the availability of certain players, and bring them in on a loan basis if he desires. The board backs Ray Mathias, and we have been impressed with the way he has adapted to the role of caretaker-manager, in what can only be described as extremely difficult circumstances.”

The Shakers currently lie 15th with four points following a 3-1 home win over Yeovil and a 2-2 draw at Bristol Rovers. However, they were thrashed 5-1 at Grimsby Town last weekend and will no doubt be looking to bounce back at Gigg Lane tomorrow. Ex-City player Colin Woodthorpe is expected to return to the side following suspension to play alongside another former Deva player David Flitcroft.

Graham BarrowBury, of course, are managed by former City player and manager Graham Barrow (left) who spent eight years from 1986-94 at Chester and is one of the most popular figures the club has ever had. He recently returned to Deva Stadium for Wayne Brown’s testimonial.

Barrow has sympathy for his opposite number at the Deva: “Chester fans must remember that Ray Mathias is a good manager and he had a good track record as boss during his time at Tranmere Rovers. Ray is in a difficult situation because Chester fans would have been used to winning games last season. I don’t think anyone can appreciate the position Ray is in – only managers can possibly understand what Ray Mathias is going through.”

Nearly 1,200 fans made the trip to Notts County and City can expect another large following for their first visit in nine years to Gigg Lane, Eddie Bishop scoring in City’s 1-1 draw on that occasion.
19 August 2004

The draw for the first round of the LDV Trophy will take place live on SKY TV on their Soccer AM programme on Saturday 28 August. Dates for the first three rounds are:

Rd1 week commencing 27 September
Rd2 week commencing 1 November
Rd3 week commencing 29 November

The Blues will compete in the northern section along with: Barnsley, Blackpool (the holders), Bradford City, Bury, Chesterfield, Darlington, Doncaster Rovers, Grimsby Town, Hartlepool United, Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Lincoln City, Macclesfield Town, Mansfield Town, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Port Vale, Rochdale, Scunthorpe United, Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport County, Tranmere Rovers, Wrexham, Accrington Stanley, Carlisle United, Hereford United, Morecambe, Scarborough and York City.

Admission prices for Chester fans at next Tuesday night’s Carling Cup game are: £10.00 (adult) £5.00 (concessions: u16, oap). Note that to apply for the concession price a ticket has to be pre-bought from the ticket office. All prices are for reserved seating. Sunderland Ticket Office: 0191-551-5151.
The Reserves kicked-off their Pontins League Division One West campaign with a 1-0 home defeat by Macclesfield Town. Sean Hessey missed a penalty for the Blues. The next fixture is away at Stockport County on 1 September.
18 August 2004

Chester City have moved to clarify their position on the departure of manager Mark Wright earlier this month. Last season’s Nationwide Conference champions have kept silent on the reasons behind the former England defender’s decision to walk out on the eve of the new season almost a fortnight ago.

However, Wright’s decision to go public at the weekend with his side of the story has promoted Chester to issue their own statement.

“Mr Wright refused to sign a contract offered by CCFC to protect his own interests,” said the statement from board of directors.

“At the commencement of the 2004/05 season Wright was again offered an improved three-year contract. This contract remained unsigned as at the time of his departure. The club insisted that it be signed before the season commenced.”

Chester’s board also claimed Wright, who quit on the eve of the new season and was followed by assistant manager Dave Moss, did not act in the proper manner on occasions.

“Mr Wright’s conduct was to be a significant factor in the departure of two senior players from the club. Both players refused to sign the much-improved offers made to them,” the statement continued.

“During April 2004 Mr Wright was warned by the chairman as to his conduct and not to speak to other clubs regarding other managerial positions, having previously been interviewed by Tranmere Rovers.”

“Wright persistently flouted his managerial position with regard to the size and budget of the first-team squad. Having already over-committed the budget for the 2004-5 season, he continued to pursue additional signings, promising players contracts without board permission.”

“Shortly before 10am on August 6 Mr Wright resigned and walked out of the club, taking his backroom staff with him. When he departed Mr Wright failed even to have the decency to enter the dressing room and address his players, choosing instead to simply drive away.

“The club has consistently maintained from the time of Mr Wright’s departure that this is a non-football related matter and we still hold that view.”

17 August 2004

daryl ClareCity striker Daryl Clare could well be out of action for up to six weeks after it was revealed that he requires a hernia operation. Clare saw a specialist on Friday who diagnosed the hernia and surgery is imminent for the striker who bagged 30 goals last season. City will be hoping that Clare’s absence may coincide with the return of Darryn Stamp who has only played one pre-season game before suffering an achilles injury.

Clare said: “Sometimes you get to an age where you do have little problems that need sorting out. I played quite a few games last season with a bit of a tear in the leg, and sometimes when you do play with an injury you develop other injuries. I know it’s bad timing for the club but at the end of the day a fully fit Daryl Clare is more use to Chester City Football Club than a half fit Daryl Clare.”

14 August 2004
Chairman Steve Vaughan has stated on local radio that he is considering his position after today’s 0-3 home defeat by Mansfield Town.

He told Dee 106.3 Radio: “It’s not about Ray Mathias’ position, it’s about Mark Wright walking out on the job. The players are his and they were a shambles today. The side is a shambles, the squad is a shambles. The money I’ve spent is an embarrassment to me and at the moment I’m not prepared to put in another penny. This (manager’s) job is up for applicants and the right appointment will be made but I’m considering my own position at this moment. I’m not prepared to take the blame for something that I had nothing to do with.”

Three second half goals by The Stags condemned City to their second home defeat of the week and left them next to bottom in the League Two table, above fellow promoted side Shrewsbury Town. Things had looked so better in the opening period which City dominated but failed to convert the chances created.
Over 120 people attended Wayne Brown’s testimonial dinner in Chester recently, click here for news and pictures from the evening and the results of the Best City XI competition run towards the end of last season.
City’s Youth Team kicked off their season today in the Youth Alliance North Central Conference with a 1-2 defeat at Port Vale, Chester’s goal coming from the penalty spot by Gavin Lynch.
13 August 2004
Fans will be pleased to see the return of Kevin McIntyre tomorrow following the defenders three match suspension. McIntyre will go straight into the City starting X1 against a Mansfield Town side that has lost both its opening matches, at home to Bristol Rovers last Saturday (0-2) and at Oxford United 0-1 on Wednesday night. Caretaker manager Ray Mathias, who watched tomorrow’s opponents on Wednesday night, will be insisting on an improvement after Tuesday night’s poor showing against Wycombe Wanderers in front of Stags manager Keith Curle.

City captain Andy Harris had this message for the fans ahead of tomorrow’s game: “Our supporters have got to realise that there won’t be any weak teams coming to play us this season. There will be times when it won’t be pretty, but we’ve got to dig in, fight, and we’ve got to be organised and get results quickly.”

11 August 2004
Former Tranmere Rovers manager John Aldridge has denied that he’s applied for the managerial vacancy at Deva Stadium. He told the BBC website: “I read last night I have been linked with the job but it is the first I know about it. I have certainly not put my name forward but I know Steve Vaughan well and he knows where I am if he wants to talk to me.”
City’s eagerly awaited return to home Football League action after four years ended in a damp squib as The Blues were outplayed by Wycombe Wanderers at Deva Stadium, a goal in each half gave the Chairboys a comfortable 2-0 victory on the night and left City still looking for their first victory of the season.

As on Saturday, City found it very hard to create any openings for Michael Branch and Daryl Clare and hardly mustered a shot on target all night. Caretaker manager Ray Mathias was as disappointed as anyone after City failed to master the wet conditions. “I was very disappointed with our performance against Wycombe because I thought we stopped playing after the first 10 or 15 minutes. We got caught in the puddles on the pitch a couple of times and it seemed to knock one or two of our boys confidence. Our passing on the night was absolutely awful. If we can’t pass the ball we’re not going to play and all credit to Wycombe who did exceptionally well.”

One interested spectator last night will have been Keith Curle. He brings his Mansfield Town side to Chester on Saturday looking to go one better than last season when The Stags were beaten in the play-off final by Huddersfield Town

10 August 2004
City entertain Wycombe Wanderers tonight in their first home game of the season (kick-off 19:45hrs). Tony Adams’ side, who were relegated with Notts County last season, opened the League campaign on saturday with a 2-1 win over Cambridge United. Both their goals came from Naythan Tyson was was later stretchered off with a rib injury and may be doubtful.

Still without the suspended Kevin McIntyre, City caretaker manager Ray Mathias looks set to name the same squad that gained a point at Notts County on Saturday, Ben Davies the only doubt with a foot injury.

9 August 2004
Ray Mathias looks onA goal by Kevin Rapley three minutes from time gleaned a point for City, and sent the large contingent of 1,200 traveling fans home happy after they seemed to be heading for defeat in their opening League Two match of the season at a baking hot Notts County, on Saturday.

Caretaker manager Ray Mathias will also no doubt have been pleased with the result, especially considering he took charge of the team only 24 hours before. This was a gutsy performance from City, who, in truth, failed to create any chances of note in the 90 minutes, against a strong side playing two divisions higher than them this time last year.

Half of Saturday’s team, Darren Edmondson, Kevin Ellison, Stephen Vaughan, Stewart Drummond, and Michael Branch were making League debuts for the Blues.

City were somewhat fortunate to go in at the break level, the home side missing a series of good chances and Vaughan heading clear off the line. But the Blues fell behind on 62 minutes when a Wayne Brown foul on Gavin Gordon resulted in a penalty, Julian Baden sending Brown the wrong way with the spot-kick.

The all-important equaliser came three minutes from time. City were awarded a penalty after a Drummond shot was handled by Mike Whitlow. Clare’s penalty was saved but former County player Rapley turned home the rebound in front of the delighted City fans.
Radio Merseyside mentioned tonight that chairman Steve Vaughan and ex-manager Mark Wright had held talks this evening and an official statement would be released by the club tomorrow.
The club have announced a two-year sponsorship deal with a local company that sees the name of the ground changed from Deva Stadium to the Saunders Honda Stadium. Ron Saunders is a familiar figure at the stadium having sponsored the club on many occasions before.
City chairman Steve Vaughan has revealed that ex-manager Mark Wright never signed a three year contract at the Deva. He said: “Mark was offered a three-year contract a number of months ago when he was being chased by Tranmere Rovers. That contract position has never changed, other than reviewing it when we won promotion to the Football League. Mark has had a three-year contract sat with him with all terms agreed, but the contract was never signed by the manager. I think you need to ask Mark why he never signed it. There were also contracts on offer to David Moss and Alan Lewer, but they never got around to being signed. So at this matter in time there is no legal issue with reference to the football club or any former employee.”
6 August 2004
Manager Mark Wright has left Chester City, he is believed to have resigned this morning and has, according to the club, left for ‘non-football related reasons’ according to the club, though Wright disagreed saying on radio Merseyside the matter was totally football related.

Chairman Steve Vaughan told the press: “The manager’s resignation is not a disappointment, not at all. No individual is bigger than this club. The players and everyone at this club are as determined as ever to go out and challenge the title for the new league. Chester City is going to be OK and I have no concerns that this latest event will have any effect whatsoever on the club. It will be business as usual this club is used to drama. The fans do not have to worry, because I, Stephen Vaughan, will remain at this club and continue to invest in the club financially. The time for fans to worry is when Stephen Vaughan leaves this club.”

Wright told the Liverpool Echo: “It was my decision. The position was untenable. I did not want it to happen, but it has. It’s not the right time and I apologise for that. It’s a very sad day. I know the side is a good side.” Assistant manager David Moss and Alan Lewer have also left the Deva Stadium with him. Wright had been at Chester for two and a half years and took them to the Conference Championship last season.

Only yesterday Wright was talking of the challenge ahead in League Two and of bringing in extra cover for the injured Sean Hessey, he said: “We’ve worked extremely hard to get this club back into the Football League and everyone was pleased to see us win the Conference Championship last season, but there are no rewards anymore. I’m now looking forward to seeing Chester playing in the Football League, holding our own and challenging for a top-seven spot in the table at the end of the season. My priority at the moment is the right side of centre half. I still think that position is a problem for us and I’ve got a couple of options, but I don’t want to just bring anyone in. We want to get the right person in the side and that right person can sometimes cost a lot of money, but we’re not prepared to do that. I’m not prepared to go to the chairman and ask him for a lot of money because I don’t think we need to just yet.”

This sensational news comes on the eve of Chester’s return to the Football League. Four years after relegation to the Nationwide Conference City will kick-off tomorrow as a League outfit once again following last season’s promotion campaign. How the news will effect the players preparation remains to be seen.
4 August 2004
Mark Wright has hinted that there may still be more signings before the week is out. Last night he mentioned in the press that he was keen to sign another striker and this morning a right-sided central defender was on the shopping list. One striker Wright is keen on, Iyseden Christie, has been the subject of an offer from fellow League Two side Kidderminster Harriers.

3 August 2004
The Blues drew their final warm-up game last night 0-0 with a Blackburn Rovers X1. Chances were few and far between on the night as manager Mark Wright gave a run-out to 19 players. Sean Hessey left the field with suspected concussion and must be a doubt for Saturday’s league opener at Notts County.

2 August 2004
Chester play their last scheduled pre-season friendly tonight when they entertain a Blackburn Rovers side at Deva Stadium, kick-off 19:45hrs.

The Rovers squad for tonight’s game has been released on their website and is as follows: Yelldell, Peers, Morgan, Danns, McEveley, Bruce, Harkins, Donnelly, Jansen, Gallagher, Douglas. Subs: Taylor, Drench, Watt, Johnson, Derbyshire.

City have completed the signing of 25-year-old Kevin Ellison. The attacking player has featured three times in City’s pre-season campaign and has previously played for Lincoln City, Stockport County, Leicester City, Altrincham and Conwy United.
Chester Ladies begin their season in the Northern Combination with a home fixture against newly relegated Bangor City on 5 September followed, a week later, by a trip to play North Ferriby United.















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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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The season ends with a goalless draw as the Blues fail to score at home for a fifth successive match.
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Chester have a home friendly against Stockport County on Saturday 6 July, kick-off 15.00.
Friendly Fixtures
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Everything you need to know about the club’s history, honours, records and kits. Complete list of fixtures from 1885 and much more.
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The Exiles have set up a blog to provide away match information and articles for Blues fans living away from Chester. You can read it here
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