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NEWS FROM DEVA STADIUM 1999
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December
JANUARY 1999

29 January 1999
CITY FINED
Chester have been fined £3,000 by the FA for their part in the brawl at Halifax last November. Halifax were fined £2,000. City must pay half the fine immediately and the other £1,500 is suspended until the end of the 1999/2000 season. Skipper Andy Crosby is suspended for tomorrow's game at Field Mill though Alex Smith is available again following his ban.

City are also trying to secure another loan period for Sam Aiston.
26 January 1999
CROSS RECOVERING
Jon Cross is recovering at the FA rehabilitation centre at Lilleshall as is expected to restart training in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile City face a disciplinary hearing in Manchester on Thursday regarding the 22-man fracas at Halifax back in November.

19 January 1999
BENNETT OPERATION
Gary Bennett is recovering in hospital after having undergone an major emergency operation for a twisted bowel. By all accounts the striker had a lucky escape. Bennett went into hospital on Friday and was operated on the following day. City's physio Stuart Walker said: "He's been in a bad way. It's a good job he went to the Accident and Emergency when he did because he's had major surgery. It's a life-threatening operation and doctors have told him he's had a lucky escape, they thought it was appendicitis at first."

Michael Fair, of the Independent Supporters Association, said: "It was quite a shock especially when you realise how serious the surgery he had was. It's happened on one of our greatest footballing nights and one of our greatest ever players hasn't been there to watch. He's always been a favourite with the fans and we wish his well and we all hope it doesn't spell the end of a fantastic career."

PLYMOUTH DATE
City have re-arranged their away game at Plymouth for Tuesday February 23 (7.45pm kick off). That game is just three days after an away game at Torquay.

13 January 1999
WELCOME BACK ROD
Rod Thomas returns to the Deva this Friday for the first time since his departure to Brighton. However a torn hamstring has kept the ex-England U21 international out of action since Christmas and it's touch and go whether he'll be fit for Friday's live SKY game. "I tore my hamstring at Peterborough on December 28; and haven't played since," said Thomas, who returns to Chester for the first time on Friday. "I jogged today and I'll have a test tomorrow but it's 50/50 whether I'll be fit to play. But I'll be back at Chester no matter what on Friday; I haven't been back since I went to Brighton. It will be good to see the lads again and they've doing well lately. I'd love to play especially with it being on TV but it will still be good to come back and see everyone."

Thomas was on his best for for City when he was transferred back in October and is sure to get a good reception from the home fans. "Things have gone well," he added. "We were second from bottom when I came here and we've gone a good run which has taken us to the play-off zone."

Shaun Reid is suspended for Friday's game and Ross Davidson is doubtful after a hamstring injury at Orient. Luke Beckett may be included on the City bench depending on his run out with the reserves tonight.
12 January 1999
LOAN DEAL EXTENDED
Mike Conroy's loan deal at Chester has been extended by another month. Half of the fee involved has been paid for by the ISA. Meanwhile Chester may extend Sam Aiston's loan period for another month, but his would look unlikely with Aiston about to serve a three match ban following his red card against Southend. The Sunderland striker is available for this Friday's game but then the suspension starts.

KEV NOT AMUSED
Harsh words from Manager Kevin Ratcliffe who was unimpressed by City's inability to wrap up Saturday's match against 1-man Leyton Orient. "We looked like a bag of nerves after their man went off. If you are 2-1 up against 10 men you expect to win the game. You also expect your players to keep the ball but we kept giving it away. Sometimes when you come to places like this you have to weather the storm and I'm pleased we did that but we weren't at our best. We had a man off the pitch when they scored their second but I expect my players to take the initiative in that kind of situation. I learnt a lot about my players today – who has the ability and who hasn't."

However, Ratcliffe was happy about the performance of youngster Martyn Lancaster in City's defence. "It wouldn't surprise me if clubs started sniffing around. He was excellent again on Saturday and he's done well in all the games he's played. Even when he came on as a sub against Mansfield he helped change the game. He's still got a lot to learn but when an 18-year-old keeps his place in the side – especially at centre half – then the other clubs are going to take note".

4 January 1999
AWARD FOR KEVIN
Congratulations to City manager Kevin Ratcliffe who was today named the Nationwide League Third Division Manager of the Month for December; the club's first managerial award for 10 years. During the month City picked up 10 from 12 points with victories away from the Deva at Rotherham and Hull along with a home victory over Darlington and a draw with Mansfield Town. We all kow what the management team and players have had to put up wuith over recent months and I'm sure KR will dedicate this award to all the staff at the club.

"He was very close to winning in October but just missed out in that case," said League spokesman Chris Hull. "The work Kevin, under battling circumstances, has done has been commendable. He's committed to the club and hopefully the award might act as a positive springboard."

There was also praise from John Barnwell the League Managers' Association top man. "Kevin's an exceptional breed to do what he's done at Chester," said Barnwell, the former Wolves boss. "He's learning the management game in the hardest possible manner and he's doing an exceptional job at Chester. He's a young manager who knows exactly what he wants and I'm sure he destined for bigger things. In the last six months, working under so many restrictions, he's learning skills that he probably doesn't realise he's learning. That will help him in the future and he'll look back on these troubled times to see how much they've made him into an exceptional young manager. I'm delighted he's got the award; it's fully deserved."
1 January 1999
BAN FOR REID
Shaun Reid's fifth booking of the season against Mansfield Town has earned him a one match ban which will be the televised game against Brighton on January 15th. Defender Scott Thompson is banned from tomorrow's game with Southend United for the same reason.
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