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The Conference Championship squad of 2003/04 ... Part 2

Continuing our look at the current whereabouts of the players who took Chester back into the Football League in 2003/04.

One of the big successes of Chester’s promotion campaign was Danny Collins who, of course, has since gone on to greater heights with Sunderland. It’s easy to forget that Danny forged his reputation as a striker with Buckley Town and when he first signed for City, in December 2001, scored 19 goals in 12 games for the Reserves. Converted into a defender by Mark Wright, Danny spent several months on loan with Vauxhall Motors the following season before returning to the Deva Stadium in January 2003. In the promotion season Danny was an ever present until injury forced him to miss the final match at Hereford United. Despite a large influx of players during summer 2004 Danny remained first choice in the City defence before Sunderland paid £140,000 for his services in October. Danny has now established himself in the Sunderland defence and made 36+2 appearances last season as the Black Cats returned to the Premiership. A consistent performer he has also been capped at full international level by Wales although further involvement may be restricted after he withdrew from John Toshack’s squad with an ankle injury at the start of September.

Lining up in the defence alongside Danny Collins were Phil Bolland and Scott Guyett (right). Phil, of course, is still at the club while Scott is playing League One football with Yeovil Town. Both players followed Mark Wright to the Deva Stadium from Oxford United and formed a formidable partnership in the heart of the defence. Scott signed for Chester at the start of the 2002/03 season but missed the early part of the promotion campaign through injury. After returning to the side in mid-November, against Barnet, the popular Australian only missed one game, the 2-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers in January. At the start of July 2004 Scott signed for Yeovil Town on a two-year deal after turning down a new contract at Chester. His first season at Huish Park was interrupted by injury and he spent two months on loan with Aldershot Town in August 2005 in order to regain his fitness. Last season Scott struggled to hold down a place in the side until the second half of the season and featured in Yeovil’s dramatic play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest as well as the final against Blackpool at Wembley. During the summer the big central defender signed a new two year contract at Yeovil.

With both Bolland and Guyett injured for the opening game at Stevenage Borough Wayne Hatswell was selected to start in the blistering heat at Broadhall Way. Wayne, another Mark Wright signing from Oxford United, played in the first eight games of the season and scored in his final appearance when City beat Halifax 2-0. In October 2003 he was transferred to Kidderminster Harriers where he was handed the captaincy and won the “Player of the Year” award. The following year proved to be more of a struggle for Wayne as Harriers unsuccessfully struggled against relegation. The Swindon-born defender started 2005/06 with Kidderminster in the Conference before returning to the Football League with Rushden and Diamonds in January. Unfortunately Wayne had the misfortune to suffer a second successive relegation with the Northamptonshire side but is still a regular at Nene Park where he has now made more than 50 appearances.

Lining up alongside Wayne Hatswell in the season opener against Stevenage was Carl Ruffer. The Chester born player joined City from non-league Runcorn and made his debut in the first ever Conference fixture at Rushden and Diamonds in August 2000. A commanding centre half he often struggled with injury but was a regular in the promotion side until losing his place in the side in January when he was forced onto the sidelines through suspension. In March 2004 he joined Droylsden on loan for the remainder of the season and during the summer moved on to Morecambe where he had an injury-plagued spell that restricted his first team opportunities. After a season and a half at Christie Park Carl returned to Droylsden in November 2005, and last season captained the side to the Conference North title. He was also voted the Bloods' fans Player of the Year as well as the Conference North Player of the Year. During the summer Carl moved to Welsh Premier League side Rhyl where he recently played for the Lilywhites in their UEFA cup tie against FC Haka Valekeakoski of Finland. After a 3-1 victory in the first leg in Wales the Welshman were unfortunate to be beaten 2-0 in the second leg despite an outstanding man of the match display from Carl.

Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Chas Sumner [Published 7/10/07] | Pictures © Evening Leader




















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