Fastest Goalscoring Debutant

When Matt Sargent scored after 87 seconds with his first touch of the ball against Kettering Town the question was asked if a Chester player had ever scored a quicker goal on his league debut.

The previous record holder for the reformed club was Johnny Hunt who scored after 4 minutes in the first game of the 2015/16 season when Chester beat Braintree Town 1-0.

Special mention should be made to Jamie Menagh who scored in the 8th and 10th minute in a 4-1 win over Lincoln City in December 2013 while Akwasi Asante scored a hat trick in 69 minutes against Darlington in December 2018 on his debut.

The following table is a definitive list of goalscoring league debutants since the club reformed in 2010 with the quickest first.

  • Matt Sargent v Kettering Town 19/3/22 – 87 seconds
  • Johnny Hunt v Braintree Town 8/8/15 – 4 minutes
  • Wayne Riley v Kidderminster Harriers 25/8/14 – 5 minutes (substitute 78 score 83)
  • Rob Hopley v Warrington Town 24/8/10 – 6 minutes
  • Jamie Menagh v Lincoln City 21/12/13 – 8 minutes
  • James McCarthy v Skelmersdale United 20/11/10 – 11 minutes (substitute 72 score 83)
  • Jordan Archer v Barrow 24/10/17 – 11 minutes
  • Brendon Daniels v Vauxhall Motors 23/2/13 – 12 minutes
  • Luke Holden v Whitby Town 12/11/11 – 14 minutes
  • Matt McNeil v Rushall Olympic 13/8/11 – 14 minutes
  • Matt McGinn v FC United 24/8/11 – 17 minutes
  • Levi Mackin v Rushall Olympic 7/1/12 – 17 minutes (substitute 73 score 90)
  • Danny O’Brien v Altrincham 16/2/16 – 26 minutes
  • Akwasi Asante v Darlington 1/12/18 – 27 minutes
  • Jack Redshaw v Blyth Spartans 25/9/21. – 27 minutes (substitute 59 score 86)
  • Chris Simm v Ossett Albion 22/1/11 – 43 minutes
  • James Caton v Grimsby Town 12/4/14 – 45 (substitute 45 score 90)
  • Okera Simmonds v Curzon Ashton 22/1/22 – 47 minutes
  • Matty Taylor v Welling United 1/2/14 – 55 minutes
  • Declan Weeks v Kidderminster Harriers 6/10/20 – 57 minutes
  • Cain Noble v Maidstone United 21/4/18 – 58 minutes
  • Jerome Wright v Burscough 17/8/11 – 62 minutes
  • Danny Williams v Vauxhall Motoirs 30/10/12 – 65 minutes
  • Conor Wilkinson v Aldwershot 2/11/13 – 67 minutes
  • Matty Hughes v Aldershot 7/10/14 – 80 minutes


Steve Finney (1973-2022)

Former Chester City striker Steve Finney has sadly passed away at the age of 48 after a short illness. Steve was playing part-time football for Barrow when he was given an opportunity to return to the Football League by Terry Smith who signed him for Chester in October 1999. He went on to make 13 Football League appearances, including 9 from the bench, and was one of the players retained by Graham Barrow for the first season in the Conference. Alongside Paul Carden he was the only player to start the last game in the Football League, against Peterborough, and the first fixture in the Conference, against Rushden and Diamonds, and he made a further four starts and five substitute appearances before being released in late 2000.

Steve Finney

Born in Hexham Steve started his career as a youth player with Preston North End and went on to make his Football League debut for the Lancashire side in the 1991/92 season. He had the most successful spell of his footballing career at Swindon Town after joining from Manchester City in summer 1995. A goal on his debut, against Hull City, immediately endeared him to supporters and he went on to score 16 goals as Swindon were promoted to the second tier. 

After representing Cambridge United, Carlisle United and Leyton Orient Steve dropped into part-time football with Gretna and Barrow but after circulating his CV to north west clubs he was contacted by Terry Smith who brought him to the Deva Stadium in 1999. He made his debut, as a substitute, in a 4-1 defeat at Lincoln but after featuring in the next seven games he was only used intermittently during the rest of the campaign. 

For the first season in the Conference Steve started the first three games before dropping to the role of substitute and the signing of Steve Whitehall marked the end of his City career. His final match proved to be a Nationwide Variety Club Trophy match against Hednesford Town before a move to Altrincham after a successful loan spell.

At the time of his death he was part of the management team with Ullswater United in the Westmorland League.

Peter Greenwood (1924-2021)

There are very few players that have managed to balance a career both as a first class cricketer and a footballer, but Peter Greenwood, who has sadly passed at the grand age of 97, was one of this rare breed. Peter made 62 Football League appearances for Chester between 1948 and 1952 but spent the summer months as a professional with Lancashire Cricket Club. 

Peter himself admitted that he always had a better chance of making it as a cricketer than a footballer and cricket remained his predominant sport. Amongst the highlights of his cricket career were a century at Old Trafford and representing Lancashire against Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies.

Peter Greenwood

Born in Todmorden, Peter’s early football career coincided with the war years and he represented the Navy on many occasions. When the hostilities ended he signed professional with Burnley but never broke through into the first team and Frank Brown brought him to Sealand Road in summer 1948. At the same time as his footballing career was taking off Peter was also making a name for himself in cricketing circles and after playing as the professional for Kendal C.C. he joined Lancashire. 

Initially signed as a centre forward Peter spent most of his career as a wing half but made his Chester debut, in the number nine shirt against Darlington, on his 24th birthday. Coincidentally his final appearance was also against the Quakers, in April 1952, where he scored one of his three league goals for the club.

Peter’s most successful season at Sealand Road came in 1950/51 when he made 29 appearances but the highlight came the following campaign when he played in both FA Cup third round ties against Chelsea. In the first match, at Stamford Bridge, Peter sensationally found the back of the net early in the second half to give Chester a shock 2-0 lead before the home side fought back to earn a replay. The following Wednesday, in front of Sealand Road’s largest ever crowd, Chester were beaten 3-2 after extra time but Peter himself was unlucky not to score when a close range shot passed between goalkeeper Robertson’s legs before being scrambled away although many people believed the ball had crossed the line.

After leaving Chester Peter signed for Witton Albion followed by Caernarvon and Nantlle Vale. He then spent a year playing hockey before returning to football at Chester Nomads, firstly as a player then as a referee. When Peter left Chester he also quit first class cricket, in order to concentrate on a job outside sport, although he continued to play in the Birmingham League followed by the Bolton League in parallel with his career in non-league football. Outside his sporting life Peter first worked for an engineering company in finance followed by Chester Highways Department in Upton and Guilden Sutton.

A true gentleman, Peter was a season ticket holder for many years and his involvement in sport in the Chester area made him a well-respected figure in the local community. He will be fondly remembered by everyone who was fortunate to know him.

Gary Moore (1945-2021)

Gary Moore, a member of the 1974/75 promotion side that also reached the last four of the League Cup, has sadly passed away at the age of 76. In two seasons at Sealand Road Gary made 43 league appearances and scored four goals but will best be remembered for scoring the second equaliser in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final against Aston Villa that finished 2-2.

Gary Moore

Born in Sedgefield, Gary started his career as an apprentice at Sunderland, where he became an England youth international, and signed professional terms at Roker Park in 1962. A move to Grimsby Town followed in 1967 but his best years came at Southend United where he scored an impressive 55 goals in 188 appearances. Most notably he scored seven goals in two FA Cup ties against King’s Lynn and Brentwood in the 1969/70 season.

The blond-haired striker had a loan spell at Colchester before Ken Roberts brought him to Chester for £10,000 in August 1974. Gary made his debut as a replacement in defence for the injured Trevor Storton in a 3-0 win over Hartlepool but found first team opportunities limited by the form of lethal striking partnership Derek Draper and John James and was mainly used as a substitute. Nevertheless he made significant goal contributions, coming off the bench to head the only goal of the game at Swansea and scoring twice in a superb 4-1 win over promotion rivals Lincoln City. Those two strikes proved crucial as Chester pipped the Imps to the fourth promotion spot by the slimmest goal average margin. 

n the League Cup run of 1974/75 Gary was used as a substitute against Blackpool and in the first leg of the semi-final against Aston Villa. It was in the latter game, in front of a packed Sealand Road End, that the burly forward replaced John James with 20 minutes to go and in the 80th minute turned home a Derek Draper cross from close range to keep alive Chester’s Wembley dream. He kept his place in the starting eleven for the 2nd leg as the Seals were narrowly beaten 3-2. 

Gary Moore (left) celebrates with Terry Owen and Norman Whitehead after the 1st leg of the League Cup semi-final against Aston Villa

Opportunities continued to be limited in 1975/76 and at the end of the campaign he signed for Swansea City but injury forced him into retirement in 1978. Gary continued to be involved in football and was a coach at Blyth Spartans before becoming manager of Northern League sides Consett and Crook Town. He was later a scout for Aston Villa and England under his old Grimsby colleague Graham Taylor. Away from football Gary worked as a sales rep in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Dennis Keating (1940-2021)

Dennis Keating, who made a single Football League appearance for the club against Bradford City in the 1962/63 season, sadly passed away earlier this month. A tricky winger he retired from football at an early age to join a religious order and was well known in later years for his work as a priest in the Catholic parishes of St Columba and St Theresa.

Born in Cork, Dennis initially joined Chester as a part-time professional in June 1962 after graduating from Manchester University. While at university he had played for the Varsity team and was a member of the English Athletic Union side that played against Wales. He also represented Saltney Juniors and Bill Lambton signed him as an inside right after he had impressed in trial games played at the Stadium. 

After initially playing for the A team Dennis graduated to the reserves in the Cheshire County League in September. After sparkling performances on the left wing for the reserves, in particular against Bangor City where he gave former Chester full back Bill Souter a torrid afternoon, he was given the opportunity to play against Blackburn Rovers in the Lancashire Cup. Forming a youthful left wing partnership with hat-trick hero Alan Pritchard he set up the first goal in a 3-2 victory and both players were promoted to first team action against Bradford City. Once again Dennis impressed with the Cheshire Observer reporting: 

Keating certainly has got plenty of heart, and though he was bumped in occasions, he kept coming back for more, and while he is doing the job like he will be difficult to displace.”

He kept his place for the home FA Cup tie against Tranmere Rovers the following week but with left wing partner Pritchard dropped in favour of the more experienced Bill Myerscough he struggled to make an impression as Chester fell to a 2-0 defeat. Only two weeks later Dennis was transferred to Wellington Town saying that, as a teacher, he thought that non-league football would suit him better. A quiet and studious individual at Sealand Road he was not your typical 1960s footballer and in turning to a life of religion he found his true calling.