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19.WHAT HAPPENED TO...

During the pre-season friendlies Chester featured a number of trialists in the team. Jamie Heard and Ian McCaldon were fortunate to be signed but what happened to the others?

Full back Simon Betts was released by Darlington despite playing in virtually every game for the Division Three side last season. Simon made his Football League debut for Colchester United, back in 1992, and went on to make nearly 200 appearances for the Essex side before briefly dropping into the Conference with Yeovil Town. By the start of 2001/02 he was playing for Darlington in his native North East where he remained for two seasons. Simon played for Chester in the friendly game at Cammell Laird but started the season with Whitby Town in the Unibond League.

Craig Dudley also made an appearance for Chester, at Cammell Laird, on trial from Burton Albion. A former England Youth international Craig had football league experience with Notts County, Shrewsbury Town, Hull City, Oldham Athletic and Chesterfield. Craig joined Burton in August 2002 but injury and suspension interrupted his first season at Eton Park although he did score a memorable FA Cup goal against his former club Oldham. Craig is still playing with Burton.

Striker Robert Taylor played in two of the pre-season friendlies but was clearly struggling with his fitness and limped out of the game against Cammell Laird with a hamstring injury. This prompted his retirement from the game and he returned to his native Norfolk to manage Watton United of the Anglian Combination. A vastly experienced player, Robert started his professional career with Norwich City but failed to make a first team appearance and joined Leyton Orient in 1991. At Brisbane Road he began to find the net on a regular basis but his career really took off when he moved to Brentford and 56 goals in 173 games prompted Gillingham to pay £500,000 for him in 1998. At Gillingham he equalled a Division Two record by scoring five goals in one game at Burnley and also scored in the Division Two play-off final against Manchester City at Wembley. His form in that game encouraged Joe Royle to pay £1.5 million for Robert in 1999 and the following season he was transferred to Wolves for a similar fee. The move to the Midlands never worked out and after loan spells at QPR and Gillingham he had a couple of spells with Grimsby on short term contracts. Last season Robert played eight times for Scunthorpe but was released during the summer and had a short trial with Cheltenham before briefly arriving at Chester.

Gangling Sam Sodje needs no introduction to City fans having scored for Margate against Chester back in September. Sam had impressed Mark Wright when playing for Margate against Chester last season and featured in pre-season games against Den Haag, Connah’s Quay and Vauxhall Motors. The brother of Huddersfield’s Nigerian International Efe he had previously played for Hayes and Stevenage Borough and joined Margate in summer 2002. Last year he was Player of the Season at Margate and the club were delighted to welcome him back after he failed to win full time contracts with Yeovil Town or City during the summer.
Chas Sumner [Published 11/10/03]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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