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WHAT HAPPENED TO...

Ian 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 Exiles.

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.

Striker 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.

One 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 side.

Chas Sumner [Published 29/3/08] | Pictures © Evening Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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