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25.WHAT HAPPENED TO...

Continuing our look at former City players who are still playing in the Football League:

Colin Woodthorpe (Bury) is one of only three current Football League players who played for Chester while they were still based at Sealand Road. Colin graduated from the youth ranks at Chester and made his first team debut as far back as January 1986 when he started a Freight Rover Trophy game against Rochdale. The following season he made his full league debut, in the first away game of the season, at Bury. By the start of 1987 he was a regular in the side and at the end of the 1986/87 season played for Chester in the Northern Final of the Freight Rover Trophy against Mansfield Town. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg it was Colin who gave Chester hope in the second leg at Sealand Road when he blasted home a 12th minute free kick. Sadly it proved to be the only goal of the game. Over the following three seasons Colin remained a steady and reliable presence at left back and his performances did not go unnoticed by higher division sides. During the summer of 1990, while the club were finalising arrangements for the ground share at Macclesfield, Colin was transferred to Norwich City for £225,000. He made his Canaries debut at Sheffield United but found appearances limited by the consistency of Mark Bowen. In 1994 Colin made a surprise £400,000 move to Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen but returned to England with newly promoted Stockport County in July 1997 after 48 appearances. In five seasons at Edgeley Park Colin made more than 150 appearances and was captain of the side in 2001/02. Following relegation to Division One, in 2002, Colin was given a free transfer by Carlton Palmer. A move to our Conference rivals Morecambe looked on the cards but he held out for a league side and signed for Bury where his former playing colleague Graham Barrow was assistant manager. Colin is still with Bury and has been a virtual ever present so far this season.

Alan Reeves (Swindon Town) started his career with West Cheshire league side Heswall before joining Norwich City in September 1988. He failed to make the first team at Norwich and was loaned out to Gillingham in February 1989 before joining Chester on a free transfer at the end of that season. Alan suffered a difficult time in his two seasons at Chester. Playing at right back, he was the frequent target of abuse and was placed on the transfer list after Chester’s first season at Macclesfield. A move to Rochdale revitalised his career and Alan soon began to attract the attention of bigger clubs with some assured performances at his more natural position of centre half. A transfer to Wimbledon for £300,000 was followed by a move to Swindon Town in 1998 where he has now made almost 200 appearances. In May 2003 Alan signed a one year contract at the County Ground and now combines playing with coaching the reserves.

Like current goalkeeper Iain Turner, Mike Stowell (Bristol City) joined Chester on loan from Everton in order to gain first team experience. It was Harry McNally who signed Mike after Billy Stewart had conceded 12 goals in the first four games of the 1987/88 season. The loan move worked out superbly and Mike created a lasting impression with some brilliant displays in his short spell at Sealand Road. In 14 league games Mike only conceded 13 goals. Included in these games was a 2-0 victory at Sunderland in the first ever league game between the sides. After returning to Everton he had further loan spells with York, Manchester City, Port Vale, Wolves and Preston but the consistency of Neville Southall meant that he never made a first team appearance in five seasons at Goodison Park. Mike’s career really took off when he made a permanent move to Wolves in June 1990. In eleven seasons at Molyneux Mike made 385 appearances, a record for a Wolves goalkeeper, and he was rewarded with a testimonial against Aston Villa in July 2000. Twelve months later Mike was given a free transfer and joined Bristol City where he made 25 appearances in his first season. Over the last two years Mike has acted as understudy to Steve Philllips although he did appear once this season in an LDV game against Plymouth Argyle.

Finally, a player of more recent vintage. Manuel “Junior” Agogo (Bristol Rovers) joined Chester on loan from Sheffield Wednesday in September 1999 and demonstrated his impressive goalscoring credentials with 6 goals in 10 games including a late winner at Brighton and a spectacular solo effort against Cheltenham Town. Further loan spells followed at Chesterfield in November 1999 and Lincoln City the following month. Later in the same season Junior emigrated to America where he played for Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes. He returned to Britain with Queens Park Rangers but after only two appearances moved to Barnet. Last season Junior scored 20 Conference goals for the Bees and was selected for the England National Game X1. During the summer Junior was transferred to Bristol Rovers in an exchange deal with Giuliano Grazioli but has so far failed to reproduce the form that made him such a hit last season.
Chas Sumner [Published 21/2/04]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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