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Centre half Steve Halford made his Chester debut in what proved to be Stephen Vaughan’s first game as chairman and Gordon Hill’s last game as manager. Steve was one of four players making his debut that day and the 3-0 home defeat to Margate, in October 2001, put Chester at the foot of the Conference table. Steve came to the Deva Stadium from Bury and played ten games for the club with his final appearance coming against Northwich Victoria at the end of 2001. The 3-1 defeat that day not only marked Steve’s last match but also brought Steve Mungall’s short reign as manager to an end. There was no room for the Bury born defender in Mark Wright’s new regime and at the end of January Steve was released and joined Accrington Stanley. The move to Stanley proved successful and he was a member of the side that won promotion to the Nationwide Conference in 2003. At the start of the 2004/05 season Steve was unfortunate to break his leg and on his recovery spent a month on loan with Radcliffe Borough in a bid to regain his fitness. Unfortunately, on his return, he failed to re-establish his place in the Stanley side and was allowed to join Droylsden on loan. The move to the Conference North side was made permanent in July 2005 and last season he was an integral member of the Bloods side that won promotion to the Blue Square Premier League.

Coincidentally midfielder Chris O’Brien’s brief Chester career followed the same pattern as that of Steve Halford with both players making their first and last appearances in the same fixture. A former England Youth international, and graduate of the Liverpool academy, Chris moved to the Deva Stadium on a three month loan deal from Anfield in October 2001. The move was made permanent in January but Chris failed to make the first team again and although he was retained at the end of the season he started 2002/03 on loan at Droylsden. In October 2002 the Liverpool born player moved to the Bloods on a permanent basis and was a regular member of their side for the next two seasons. In September 2004 Chris signed for Vauxhall Motors where he made a goalscoring debut in an FA Cup tie against Gainsborough Trinity. However his stay at Rivacre Park proved brief and in December he signed for Colwyn Bay. His debut with the Bay proved less memorable as he was sent off against Belper Town. After just over three years with the North Wales side Chris signed for League of Wales strugglers Llangefni Town in January this year.

Another former City player has also recently joined Llangefni. Paul Roberts (left) was a former trainee at the Deva Stadium who made his debut as a substitute in Gordon Hills’s first match in charge, the 2-0 home defeat to Woking. A right-sided defender, who could also play in midfield, Paul made five substitute appearances and one start, at Stevenage, for City. The arrival of Mark Wright saw the end of Paul’s Chester career and in February 2002 he signed for Caernarfon Town where he remained for two seasons. In summer 2004 the Whiston-born defender moved to Colwyn Bay and joined Chris O’Brien at Llangefni in January after being released by Bay.

Completing the Colwyn Bay connection is Mark Quayle. The former Everton trainee was signed on loan from Nuneaton Borough in February 2003 with the intention of making the move permanent. Mark, who also had experience with Notts County, Altrincham and Morecambe, had been snapped up by Nuneaton from Telford United in summer 2002 after the Buck’s had run into financial difficulties. Eighteen goals in 33 games, including one against Chester, had made the striker hot property in the Conference and it was hoped that the opportunity to link up with Darryl Clare would create a profitable partnership. Although Mark scored in his first start, a 2-0 win over Halifax, the move never worked out and he was one of two City players sent off in the 1-0 win at Gravesend and Northfleet. Following his suspension the lively forward returned to the side as a substitute, in the first leg of the play-off final against Doncaster Rovers, but was again given a straight red card for a tackle on Ricky Ravenhill in the closing moments. In the second leg Mark scored one of the penalties in the shoot-out at the Deva Stadium as City lost out to Rovers. With City failing to finalise a deal Mark joined Scarborough in summer 2003 for £2,000 and made the headlines the following January when his late FA Cup goal against Southend United earned Scarborough a money-spinning tie with Chelsea. In July 2004 Mark returned to Cheshire with Northwich Victoria before re-signing for Scarborough in 2005. After a spell on loan with Hyde United Mark signed for Colwyn Bay in January 2007 and is now player coach with the North Wales side.

Chas Sumner [Published 9/2/08] | Pictures © Evening Leader




















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