Hillier joined City on loan from Luton Town
in December 2004 and made his debut in the same game
as Dave Bayliss, a 1-0 defeat at Southend United. A
versatile player Ian initially replaced Darren Edmondson
at full back but also featured in midfield before returning
to Kenilworth Road when his two month loan period expired
after 7+1 appearances.
Out of favour at Luton he failed to play another game
in 2004/05 and was released at the end of the season.
During summer 2005 the former Tottenham trainee returned
to his native Wales and signed for Newport County for
their inaugural season in the Conference South. Playing
at either full back or in the centre of defence Ian
was Player of the Season in his first campaign for the
The former Wales Under 21 international also gained
further national representative honours in 2007 when
he played for the Wales semi-professional side. Ian
is still a regular at Newport who are currently mid-table
in the Blue Square South.
Joe O’Neill was an Ian Rush loan
signing from Preston North End in January 2005. The
tall youngster, who had turned professional with Preston
in 2002, had started the 2004/05 season on loan at Mansfield
Town where he had mainly been used as a substitute.
On his return to North End he was given a brief taste
of first team football before being sent out on loan
to Chester as a replacement for Cortez Belle who was
starting a third suspension of the season.
Joe scored one of the goals in a 3-0 win against Rushden
and Diamonds but failed to make an impact thereafter
and soon dropped to the substitute’s bench. His
final appearance for Chester, as a substitute at Leyton
Orient, saw him red carded. In summer 2005 the Blackburn
born forward moved to York City where he scored 5 goals
in 37 games including a hat-trick on his debut at Southport.
Joe started the 2006/07 season with another Conference
side, Altrincham, where he has played both as a striker
and wide midfielder.
Now in his second season at Moss Lane Joe has been a
regular for the Conference strugglers and has made more
than 70 appearances for the club.
former Chester loan signing who has gone on to progress
in the Football League is George Elokobi.
The no-nonsense Cameroon born defender joined City on
a one month loan from Colchester United at the same
time as Joe O’Neill and made his debut in the
same game, a 3-0 defeat at Swansea. Initially deployed
at left back the talented former Dulwich Hamlet youngster
looked more comfortable when moved to centre-half but,
like O’Neill, he ended his Chester career with
a red card in the 5-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town.
Although Chester wanted to extend George’s loan
he was recalled by Colchester at the start of March
but had to wait until the following season before he
made his U’s debut. After breaking through into
the first team at Layer Road George finally became a
regular for the Championship strugglers at the start
of this season and a series of fine performances helped
raise his profile. However he was surprisingly dropped
at the end of October and when he asked for a transfer
Colchester looked to cash in on one of their prize assets.
With Reading, Celtic, Ipswich and Crystal Palace all
reputedly showing an interest it was Wolves who won
the race for his signature and George agreed a three
and a half year deal with the Molyneux club on transfer
deadline day. George made his Wolves debut at Blackpool
in February and is now a regular for the play-off chasing
Chas Sumner [Published 29/3/08] | Pictures
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