Despite the 3-0 defeat at
the hands of Swansea City in the play-offs, its
been a successful year for Chester City. Weve
definitely improved this season and we can do better
next time said manager Kevin Ratcliffe.
He believes he has the basis of a promotion winning squad at the Deva and
will be hoping that the nucleus of the squad will stay together. That explains
why only three players have been released this summer, skipper Peter Jackson,
forward Kevin Noteman and defender Greg Brown.
You have to give the young lads their chance, said assistant manager
Gary Shelton, who himself has made over 500 league appearance during a 20-year-career. Thats
why weve let the likes of Peter Jackson and Kevin Noteman go. They were
experienced pros but weve got young lads coming through and you cant
stand in their way.
Chris Priest, Dave Flitcroft and Ross Davidson appear to be holding out
for better deals and have yet to sign contracts for next season , while
Spencer Whelan, Rod McDonald and goalkeeper Wayne Brown have agreed new
deals. Whelan has a two year contract, while McDonald and Brown have one
year deals. Current Northern Ireland international Iain Jenkins recently
pledged his loyalty to the club by signing a two year deal.
Andy Milner, John Murphy, Stuart Rimmer and Nick Richardson have all been
offered contracts for next season though at the time of writing none have
signed those who dont will be put on weekly contracts. Centre
half Gary Tallon, who made one appearance on trial from Kilmarnock has
returned to Scotland.
Ratcliffe has hinted that he wont have much cash to play with during
the summer. Ive got a budget to work to. I knew that when I
took over and I cant expect the chairman to keep digging into this
pocket. Ive got to start looking for good players and good
players on free transfers.
That, Ratcliffe and Shelton have started to do, checking lists of available
players at the PFA in Manchester, as there is no doubt the side needs strengthening. We
know we haven’t got money to splash out on players but sometimes you get
a few surprises in the released lists.
City will have one of the youngest squads in the third division next season
and manager Kevin Ratcliffe may be looking for a couple of experience pros
during the summer. Top of the shopping list are a 20-goal a season striker
and a left-sided wingman.
As we all know, goalscoring has been Citys problem for at least a
year now. With Kevin Noteman released and Sam Aiston returning back to
Sunderland following his successful loan spell, City have no natural left
Meanwhile chairman Mark Guterman is still waiting to see if the FA will
take any action against him following an astonishing outburst at red-card
referee Neale Barry. A furious Guterman was livid after his side were dumped
out of the play-offs at Swansea. And he told the Scunthorpe official exactly
what he thought of him. We were cheated, fumed Guterman, who
was seething over the sending off of City midfielder Chris Priest.
The Blues lost 3-0 and their chances of a Wembley debut and promotion to
Division Two were completely wiped out. I will do everything in my
power to make sure he never referees a Chester City match again. Guterman’s
wish has now been granted Barry has been elected to the Premier
League List of referees!! Barry, who earlier in the season, sent off Blues
boss Kevin Ratcliffe, responded by reporting Guterman to the Football League.
The under-fire Barry said: He came into my room at the end of the
game and made certain representations.
The matter has since been passed onto the Football Association. And they
have asked Guterman to send in a report on the incident before the matter
goes before the FAs disciplinary committee.
29 May 1997
FLITCROFT SIGNS NEW DEAL
David Flitcroft has signed
a new deal with Chester City. The 23-year-old midfielder
put pen to paper after agreeing a two-year contract. Assistant
manager Gary Shelton was delighted when the Bolton-born
battler finally put his name on the dotted line. He said:
Davids very strong, very direct down the right
and I think hes got a lot of enthusiasm which rubs
off on other members of the team. He also scores
some important goals coming in from the right. When Davids
at his best, Chester City play well.
The Blues were determined to keep Flitcroft to aid their push for promotion
from Division Three next season. Flitcroft, who scored six goals in 30
league appearances last season, was holding out for better terms.
Shelton added: I think it was a bit of both really - David wanted
to get the best deal for him and we wanted him to sign.
The Flitcroft deal means Chester, who released captain Peter Jackson and
Kevin Noteman at the end of last season, are now waiting on just three
men to re-sign.
They are: midfielder Chris Priest, right-back Ross Davidson and striker
Shelton was not sure of the state of play with these players.
He said: Kevin deals with that side of things so
I dont really know. Chris and Ross are both vital
members of the squad and we want them to stay at the club.
Maybe they do feel they can play at a higher level. Chris
has come to us from Everton and Ross from Sheffield United,
both of which are higher up. Both are ambitious and maybe
they believe they can play higher up.
23 May 1997
Chester have arranged the following pre-season
friendlies both at the Deva Stadium.
July 15th Preston North End
July 29th West Bromwich Albion
Meanwhile the players will be reporting back for training on July 2nd,
before embarking on a pre-season tour of South Wales in mid July.
22 May 1997
GARY SHELTON’S DEVA DIARY
I’m still finding it
difficult to talk about last week’s defeat at Swansea.
It wasn’t the best way to end the season. We had
a hard task after drawing at our place and were always
going to be underdogs at The Vetch. Our dressing room
wasn’t a nice place to be after the game but it’s
no use us feeling sorry for ourselves.
We thought we were going to Wembley but it wasn’t
to be. We just missed out last year. We got there this
time around but we’re still slightly short of being
the finished article.
Our big problem has been scoring goals. We’ve known
that all season. If we’d have had a Graeme Jones
in our side then we’d have won promotion. But we
haven’t got the money to throw around and we’ve
just got to accept that. Anyway, let’s not dwell
on the bad things. Let’s have a look back at the
good times this season.
The Middlesbrough match has to be the highlight of my
season. It was great to play in front of a big crowd and
it was also a great experience for our younger players.
That was the most enjoyable game from a playing point
of view. The most enjoyable from the bench was the Doncaster
match. All we had to do was sit back and relax after the
goals started flying in. I wish all games could be like
There’s been many memorable things off the field
some I have written about and some I haven’t
been allowed to print.
But here’s one funny to finish. Groundsman John
Hipkiss was in his favourite haunt in Chester Brannigans.
He strutted up to a long-blond haired party goer and cuddled
up next to her only to discover it wasn’t a her.
It was a bloke. I haven’t seen John since so I don’t
know what happened to him. Finally, I’d like to
say goodbye to two old friends Peter Jackson and
Kevin Noteman. Jacko’s been a great favourite with
the fans and has stepped in to do my column a couple of
times. Notes has kept my column going with his antics
on the field and especially on the golf course. I bet
he wishes he hits a golf ball in the air like he takes
Have a good summer and you’ll hear from me at the
start of next season.
WAIT AND SEE FOR MARK
Chester chairman Mark Guterman
is still waiting to see if the FA will take any action
against him following an astonishing outburst at red-card
referee Neale Barry. A furious Guterman was livid after
his side were dumped out of the play-offs at Swansea eight
days ago. And he told the Scunthorpe official exactly
what he thought of him.
“We were cheated,” fumed Guterman, who was
seething over the sending off of City midfielder Chris
Priest. The Blues lost 3-0 and their chances of a Wembley
debut and promotion to Division Two were completely wiped
out. “I will do everything in my power to make sure
he never referees a Chester City match again.”
Barry, who earlier in the season, sent off Blues boss
Kevin Ratcliffe, responded by reporting Guterman to the
Football League. The under-fire Barry said: “He
came into my room at the end of the game and made certain
representations.” The matter has since been passed
onto the Football Association. And they have asked Guterman
to send in a report on the incident before the matter
goes before the FA’s disciplinary committee.
Apart from the Swansea aftermath, it’s all quiet at The
Deva. The players who have been offered new deals, have
until next week to decide yes or no. Dave Flitcroft has
yet to put pen to paper and other players are also holding
out for better deals.
“If they don’t sign they’ll go on a week to week
contract,” said assistant manager Gary Shelton, who
will try to bolster the Blues squad tomorrow. Shelton
and Ratcliffe are off to the PFA headquarters in Manchester
to look at the lists of available players. On top of their
wanted list is a centre forward.
City skipper Iain Jenkins gained another international
cap with Northern Ireland yesterday. He played in their
0-0 draw against Thailand in Bangkok.
21 May 1997
LIFE TO BEGIN AT 40 FOR BLUES STAR
Golden oldie Gary Shelton today
vowed to carry on playing. Chester City’s veteran midfielder
will be 40 next season and he’s still going strong.
“I had quite a good season,” said assistant
manager Shelton, who has been at the club for three seasons.
I played about 18 games and enjoyed them all. I know I
can’t manage two games a week these days but if I’m needed
I’ll put the boots on and give it my best. I love playing
and I’ve kept myself fit over the years and it’s great
to still play.”
Many fans reckon that City play better when Shelton’s
in the side but the Nottingham-born midfield man sacrificed
his place in the side. “You have to give the young
lads their chance,” added Shelton, who has made
over 500 league appearance during a 20-year-career. That’s
why we’ve let the likes of Peter Jackson and Kevin Noteman
go. They were experienced pros but we’ve got young lads
coming through and you can’t stand in their way.”
City will have one of the youngest squads in the third
division next season and manager Kevin Ratcliffe may be
looking for a couple of experience pros during the summer.
Not for the first time, a centre forward remains his priority
and Ratcliffe and Shelton will scour the free transfer
lists this week. “We’re going to Manchester
to the PFA office on Friday and we’ll look through the
list to see who’s been given frees,” added Shelton.
We know we haven’t got money to splash out on players
but sometimes you get a few surprises in the released
19 May 1997
WINGMAN IS CITY TARGET
Chester City are targeting
a left winger after Kevin Notemans Deva departure.
Noteman was freed last week and with left winger Sam Aiston
now back in his native North East, the Blues dont
have a naturally left sided player.
Kevs gone and Sams gone back to Sunderland
so it does leave us a bit unbalanced down the left,
said assistant manager Gary Shelton today. Kev did
a good job for us scored a few goals and Id
like to wish him all the best and hope he gets fixed up
with a club. We havent got a naturally left footed
player in the side now and well be looking to fill
Out of favour Neil Fisher, who has had a poor season,
has played on the left before, but is unlikely to feature
in that position next season. But a new left winger isnt
on top of manager Kevin Ratcliffes summer shopping
list. Not surprisingly, the Blues boss is after a-20-goals-a-season-striker.
Thats what we want, added Shelton. And
thats what everyone wants. Weve known all
along that we need a striker who will score goals regularly
but theyre difficult to find.
Andy Milner was Citys top scorer last season with
14 and the 30-year-old front man is one of several players
still mulling over new contracts.
Theyve all been offered new contracts. Weve
had no definite yes or nos and they are all just
thinking them over during the summer.
Noteman and skipper Peter Jackson were the only players
to be handed frees and both want to stay in the
Football League and not go into non-league.
The highlights of the Blues second half of the season
can now be savoured forever. The video, priced at £12.95,
is now available in the club shop.
Tuesday’s home game against Kidderminster has been postponed to due water damage to certain parts of the stadium.
An awful day for Chester who have Gary Roberts sent-off and are thrashed 8-1 at Blyth Spartans.
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