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STUART MASON 1948-2006

Chester lost one of it’s heroes from the 1974/75 season when Stuart Mason sadly died last weekend. Stuart will forever be remembered as the scorer of one of the most vital goals in the club’s history. His late winner against Crewe proved crucial in securing the club’s first ever promotion. In recent months Stuart had been working with the Centre of Excellence at Chester where he was Under 16s coach. He will be sorely missed and our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Stuart was born in Whitchurch on June 2nd 1948 and started his career with local Shropshire County League side Whitchurch Alport. He quickly came to the attention of Wrexham, where future Chester manager Ken Roberts was first team coach, and signed amateur forms for the Reds in November 1964.

Stuart quickly graduated through the junior ranks and made his first team debut, at right back, on New Years Day 1966, at the age of 17. His rapid progression was recognised when he represented England Youth against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the youngster signed professional terms for Wrexham in July. A remarkable year was completed in October 1966 when he was one of two Reds players signed by Liverpool manager Bill Shankly for a combined fee of £30,000.

For just under two seasons at Anfield Stuart was a regular in the Central League side, being kept out of the first team due to the consistency of Chris Lawler. In 1967 he had a brief loan spell with Doncaster Rovers and in the following year rejoined Wrexham on a free transfer. Over the next five years at the Racecourse Ground Stuart figured in a promotion winning team and also gained a Welsh Cup winners medal as well as featuring in the club’s first venture into Europe.

Meanwhile, across the border, Ken Roberts was starting to build the Chester team that ultimately won promotion from Division Four. With money available following the sale of land around the Stadium the Chester manager returned to his former club to snap up Stuart for £2,000 in June 1973. He made his debut at right back in the season’s opener at Swansea and featured 41 times that year. By the start of the 1974/75 campaign Roberts, with the aid of coach Brian Green, had fashioned one of Chester’s finest team’s with Stuart now fulfilling a role in front of defenders Nigel Edwards, Tony Loska, Trevor Storton and Reg Matthewson.. Recalling his times at Sealand Road a few years ago Stuart acknowledged that his manager had made good use of the money available and built a perfectly balanced team with classy players like Norman Whitehead and Jimmy Redfern alongside experienced professionals such as Matthewson and Derek Draper.

Stuart played a prominent part in the side that won promotion and also reached the semi-final of the League Cup in 1975. In the cup run he was given the role of man marking Bobby Charlton in the Preston tie and Leeds United’s Billy Bremner in the famous 3-0 victory. He performed both tasks with typical quiet efficiency as both players were marked out of the game. In the semi-final at Aston Villa Stuart scored his first goal of the season with a stunning 30 yard strike that temporarily gave Chester hope of a first Wembley appearance before their narrow 5-4 aggregate defeat.

However, in Stuart’s mind, there is no doubt that the best goal he scored was the crucial strike against Crewe purely because of its importance. With Chester needing a win at Gresty Road to maintain their promotion challenge Stuart bravely met a cross from Jimmy Redfern to head past Geoff Crudgington and send the 3000 travelling Blues fans delirious. Remembering that great day Stuart recalled that he felt that the whole of the crowd behind the goal jumped on top of him in celebration.

Following promotion to Division Three Stuart was in and out of the Chester side and after loan spells at Rochdale and Crewe he joined Bangor City in December 1977. After two years at Farrar Road he moved along the coast to Rhyl where he played for 12 months under ex Chester full back Ray Jones. Finally, in the early 1980's, Stuart again linked up with Ken Roberts at Oswestry Town where he also took the position of player-manager in the 1984/85 season. He later managed Coedpoeth in the Welsh National League and also played for Wrexham veterans and Chester Nomads.

PLAYING RECORD

Jul 1966 — Oct 1966 Wrexham 28 apps 0 goals
Oct 1966 — Jun 1968 Liverpool 0 apps
Nov 1967 — Doncaster Rovers (loan) 1 app 0 goals,
Jun 1968 — Jun 1973 Wrexham 157 apps 3 goals
Jun 1973 — Dec 1977 Chester 137 apps 7 goals
Dec 1976 — Rochdale (loan) 2 apps 0 goals
Oct 1977 — Nov 1977 Crewe Alex (loan) 4 apps 1 goal.

First Chester game — v Swansea City (A) Aug 25th 1973
Last Chester game — v Plymouth Argyle (H) Oct 8th 1977

Chas Sumner [8/2/06]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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