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Tom Curtis was one of Keith Curle’s first signings when he moved to the Deva Stadium from Mansfield Town. The midfield ball-winner joined three other ex-Stags (Scott McNiven, Dave Artell and Luke Dimech) who all linked up with their former manager at the Deva Stadium in June 2005. Exeter-born Tom had made a name for himself in the 1990s at Chesterfield where he made more than 200 appearances and was a member of the Spireites side that reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1996/97. After joining Portsmouth in 2000, for £150,000, he spent some time on loan at Walsall and Tranmere Rovers before his transfer to Mansfield in December 2002.

Tom was an integral part of the City side that made such a promising start to the 2005/06 season and featured in all but six of Chester’s league fixtures during the campaign. At the end of the season Tom was one of a host of players released by Mark Wright and he signed for Notts County. Unfortunately the former Loughborough student suffered an injury very early in the season and after only two substitute appearances joined Nuneaton Borough on loan with the move becoming permanent in February 2007.

Tom is currently the captain at Nuneaton Borough, who are currently playing in the Blue Square North, and has been a virtual ever present so far this season. He is also Head Coach of both the men and women’s teams at Loughborough University as well as the Team Manager of Midlands Universities.

It came as something of a surprise when full back Scott McNiven was released by Mark Wright in summer 2006 as the former Scotland Under 21 international had been one of the most consistent performers for City in an inconsistent season. Scott, who had spent seven years at Oldham Athletic and two seasons at Oxford before joining Mansfield, featured at both left and right back under Keith Curle and was deployed at the centre of the defence when Wright took over.

A shoulder injury brought Scott’s season to a premature end and he signed for Morecambe on non-contract terms in August 2006 but failed to agree on a deal and departed Christie Park at the end of the month without making a Conference appearance. The Leeds born player then dropped down a couple more divisions to Unibond Premier League side Fleetwood Town where he remained until the end of January 2007 when he returned to his native Yorkshire with Guiseley.

At the start of this season Scott joined Blue Square Premier League newcomers Farsley Celtic and made his debut against Stafford Rangers where he lined up against his brother David, who played three games for Chester in 2001/02..

Another former City player at Farsley Celtic is Ryan Sugden. The Bradford born striker was signed by Mark Wright from Scarborough at the start of the 2002/03 season and made an excellent start to his City career with ten goals in his first fifteen Conference games as well as a hat-trick in the FA Cup against Radcliffe Borough. Unfortunately Ryan was dismissed in the FA Cup Second Round tie at Morecambe and after his suspension he failed to find the net again for City as Daryl Clare grabbed the goalscoring headlines. At the end of the 2002/03 season the hard working striker signed for Burton Albion but his stay there proved to be brief and he fulfilled his desire to return to full-time football when he signed for Morecambe in August 2003 for a five figure sum.

Ryan struggled to find goals for Morecambe and after 13+20 appearances, in which he scored six goals, he signed for Halifax Town in summer 2004. Over the next two and a half seasons the former Oldham trainee made 66+18 Conference appearances finding the back of the net on 22 occasions. In January 2007 Ryan was given a free transfer after falling out of favour at Halifax and ironically it was the arrival of another former City player, Darryn Stamp that forced his exit from the Shay. Despite reported interest from York City and Northwich Victoria Ryan signed for Farsley Celtic as they successfully pushed for promotion from the Conference North. Ryan, who now works as an estate agent, has found first team opportunities limited so far this campaign.

Finally there are two other former City players at Farsley. Despite an injury prone record Andy Watson signed for Chester from Farsley on a three year contract following promotion from the Conference. Injuries continued to be a problem for the former Doncaster winger and he only featured once for the club, in a LDV Trophy game against Rochdale. Following his release, in summer 2005, he rejoined Farsley and was a regular in their side at the start of this season.

Gareth Grant joined Chester from Bradford City in summer 2002 and his only appearance was in a Cheshire Senior Cup tie at Cheadle. After leaving the Deva Stadium he signed for Gainsborough Trinity followed by Harrogate Town and signed for Farsley in summer 2006.

Chas Sumner [Published 12/1/08] | Pictures © Evening Leader




















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