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[Pauline Meakins]Twelve months ago my Chair’s report started with three facts: 2008/2009 season was probably the worst in the club’s history, the Exiles were still regarded as the most pro-active and professional of all the Chester City supporters groups and the future looked bleak unless major changes were made in the way Chester City was being run!

In fact, I was wrong. 2009/2010 proved to be the worst season ever in our 126 year history and sadly the changes in how the club was being run did not happen resulting in the club being booted out of the Blue Square Conference and then finally being wound up. It has been a very traumatic year all round.

Obviously, the decline in fortunes at the club impacted greatly on the Exiles: member numbers declined, the Prediction Competition was thrown into disarray and none of our members felt very sociable. Even worse, concerns were expressed about having four supporters groups and we suddenly found ourselves wondering if we were now surplus to requirement with the emergence of City Fans United (CFU).

However, while we may not look back on the season with few fond memories, there has been much to build up an optimism for the future.

Firstly, I would like to thank David Evans who, as an elected member of the Board of City Fans United, has been an excellent communicator with the Exiles as well as being very active behind the scenes keeping us informed and involved in the re-formation of the new club. Sue Choularton, too, has also played a key role in many of the CFU activities (including the communications and researching the new kit) which in turn has reflected well on the Exiles. A number of the Exiles’ Committee also took time off to help CFU promote their membership and fundraising from David’s office.

The bucket collection at AFC Wimbledon will be one of our most memorable moments of this season, again thanks to Sue for contacting the Commercial people at AFC. Even a very wet March evening couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Exiles nor the generosity of both AFC Wimbledon fans and our Welsh rivals. Raising over £1,100 on the night was only eclipsed by the warmth of the friendships forged between the three sets of supporters on the night.

While the crisis deepened down at the Deva, this energized the Exiles more and our members came out in numbers to attend our three open meetings in February, March and May and it was heartening to meet some members who came up with various offers of help and ideas to pass on to CFU. This gives us much hope for the sustainability of a supporters’ run club in the future. It also gave us an opportunity to work more closely with key people from the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) Steven Powell and Tim Hillyer who attended two of our meetings.

Another memorable evening was the Legends’ Evening in Chester in December which CFU organized with again the Exiles playing their part (thanks again to David, Robert, Giles and Steve and I am sure Sue was involved too) for arranging the much sort after Harry McNally t-shirts which went down a storm. Also, thanks to Giles and Steve for arranging the framed Harry photos which were auctioned at the 125 Celebration Night at Chester Racecourse on 12 June.

As we approach the 27th anniversary of our existence, the Exiles’ have reached a cross roads in their history but we hope that after this AGM we will go forward together, stronger and much wiser group of supporters with a role to play in the future of Chester Football Club.

I would like to finish this report by thanking all the Committee equally for their help and support over the season with a special thank you to Rick for his unstinting work in keeping the darts team running and successful.

It is almost impossible to discuss football without slipping in a cliché but there can be no more truer statement than ‘Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining’. The future is probably brighter now than it has been for many a season.

Pauline Meakins
Chair, Chester City Exiles
22 July 2010

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