Another Records Update

There has been another three victories since my last post so it is time for another update and some more observations before tomorrow’s fixture at Gainsborough Trinity.

Unbeaten League Run

Following the 2-0 victory over Altrincham this now stands at an incredible 28 games. As mentioned in previous articles the overall club record is 31 games in the Combination between January 1908 and March 1909. This means that if Chester can avoid defeat against Gainsborough Trinity and Boston United the record will be equalled at Guiseley of all places.

Unbeaten Home Record

Chester are now unbeaten in 33 league and cup games at the Exacta Stadium. They are fast closing in on the post-war record set between November 1973 and January 1975 when Ken Robert’s Blues were unbeaten in 35 games at Sealand Road. In this current sequence there has been 27 league fixtures, two FA Cup ties, one FA Trophy match and three Cheshire Senior Cup games. This record can be equalled with the last home game of the season against Solihull Borough.

The overall club record was set in the early years of the 20th century when Chester rarely seemed to lose a home game. Between September 1904 and September 1908 there went 42 league and cup games unbeaten. This covered two different grounds as the club moved from Whipcord Lane to Sealand Road in December 1906.

The record for league games only is 44 games from the start of the 1925/26 season to September 1927.

Unbeaten Away Record

The Blues are now unbeaten in the last 13 away league games a record that stretches back to the Boston United fixture in September. The Chester FC record currently stands at 15 games. This began with the 1-1 draw at Warrington Town in the very first game in 2010 and ended at Lancaster City the following March.

The club record for away league games unbeaten is 17 in the Cheshire County League during the 1930/31 season. The run started with a 3-3 draw at Runcorn in September and was ended by Manchester North End the following April.

If the current run continues the overall record will be equalled in the last game of the season against Worcester City.

Goals

The 100 league goal target is looking a formality with only three more needed to reach 100 for the third consecutive season. The 300th goal was reached with Tony Gray’s first strike at Colwyn Bay. It remains to be seen if the current team can go on to beat last year’s total of 102 and the 2010/11 total of 107. In the Football League the best was 119 in 1964/65 while the club record is a frankly ridiculous 170 set in the Cheshire County League in 1930/31.

Victories

There have been 31 victories so far this season and with six games to go this record will almost certainly be overhauled. Chester won 31 games in the Evo-Stik league last year and also won the same number in 1926/27 and 1930/31. Out of interest City were champions of the Conference in 2003/04 with 27 wins and in other promotion seasons won 23 in 1974/75 and 1985/86 and 21 in 1993/94.

Defeats

Last season Chester was only defeated in four games which equalled the total of the 2003/04 Conference winning side. Although the team that won the 1908/09 Combination championship lost a mere two games they only played 30 matches so it is a bit of an unfair comparison.

Hat-tricks

Tony Gray became the fourth different player to score three in a league game this season with his hat-trick at Colwyn Bay. He follows on from Ben Mills (v Guiseley), Iain Howard (v Stalybridge) and Craig Curran (v Bishop’s Stortford). It is the first time that four different players have scored league hat-tricks in a season since1964/65 when Gary Talbot (v Stockport County), Elfed Morris (v Aldershot), Jimmy Humes (v Wrexham) and Mike Metcalf (v Newport County) all hit three.The last time five different players scored three was in 1934/35 so come on Nathan Jarman.

Tony Gray completes his hat-trick at Colwyn Bay Copyright © Rick Matthews

Tony Gray completes his hat-trick at Colwyn Bay
Copyright © Rick Matthews

Championships

It goes without saying that Chester has never won three back to back championships. Previously the club won two on the bounce in 1925/26 and 1926/27. I don’t want to tempt fate but hopefully this record will be beaten.

Blue Square North records

Following on from my article on March 14th Chester is threatening to completely tear up the record books for the Blue Square North. They have already equalled the 97 point total of Kettering Town in 2007/08 and beaten the same club’s record of 30 wins. The 97 goal total of Alfreton Town and Northwich Victoria has also now been equalled.

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Records Update

Following on from the Blue Square North article I thought I would update the statistics before Saturday’s home game against Gloucester City.

Unbeaten League Run

Last Saturday’s win at Harrogate Town marked the 25th unbeaten league game since the defeat at Boston United. As mentioned in previous articles the overall club record is 31 games in the Combination between January 1908 and March 1909 so this could be beaten before the end of the season.

Unbeaten Home Record

Chester are now unbeaten in 31 league and cup games at the Exacta Stadium. This means that if they can avoid defeat in the last four home matches of the season they will equal the post-war record set between November 1973 and January 1975 when Ken Robert’s Blues were unbeaten in 35 games at Sealand Road. In this current sequence there has been 25 league fixtures, two FA Cup ties, one FA Trophy match and three Cheshire Senior Cup games.

Goals

Chester are on target to score 100 goals for the third consecutive season. Since the club was reformed there have been 297 league goals so the third goal (hopefully against Gloucester on Saturday) will be the club’s 300th in the league.

Cheshire Senior Cup

Chester will be appearing in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final for the first time since 1932 when they beat Crewe Alexandra 1-0 at Gresty Road in their first season as a Football League side. Having fielded a predominantly reserve team in the earlier rounds they relied on the first team in the final which was held a week after the end of the Division Three North season. Crewe, who finished three places below Chester in the league, also relied on their first eleven.

This was the seventh county cup victory for the club and came 12 months after they had beaten the Alex 6-1 at Northwich in the 1931 final. Chester never had the opportunity to make it three on the run as they voluntarily withdrew from the competition the following year along with other Football League sides Tranmere Rovers and Crewe. Although the exile was short lived the club has never returned to the final they first won in 1895. The match against Stalybridge Celtic will give the club the opportunity to win one of football’s oldest cup competitions and most handsome trophies.

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Blue Square North Records

As the Blues close in on a third successive title I thought it would be worth comparing their record with that of the previous title winners. With nine games to go Chester are on course to set several new Blue Square North records.

Points

The Conference North was established in 2004/05 when Southport were the first champions. They won the title with 84 points and Chester have already accumulated 88. In fact Chester would have already won the title in four of the previous eight seasons. Droylsden were promoted in 2006/07 with only 78 points. No club has ever hit the 100 point mark and the highest total was Kettering Town who got 97 points in 2007/08.

Wins

Kettering also hold the record for most wins in a season when they won 30 of their 42 games. With Chester already on 28 victories they look set to smash this record.  Last season Hyde were promoted with 27 victories and only Alfreton Town (29 in 2010/11) and Northwich Victoria (29 in 2005/06) has done better. In Alfreton’s case they only played 40 games.

Defeats

Chester has only lost one game so far and the record for fewest defeat in a season is currently held by Southport who won the title in 2009/10 with only four losses. Like Alfreton the Sandgrounders only played 40 games after Farsley Celtic folded mid-season.

Goals Scored

No club has managed more than 100 goals in a season and the best total has been 97 by Alfreton (2010/11) and Northwich Victoria (2005/06). Alfreton could potentially have passed the 100 mark had Ilkeston Town not folded early in the campaign. Amongst the goalscorers for Alfreton that season were Nathan Jarman and Daryl Clare. Chester are currently on 88 goals and look to pass the 100 barrier for the third consecutive season.

Goals Conceded

Once again Alfreton hold the record with 33 goals against. In the same season AFC Telford finished as runners-up to the Derbyshire side and only let in 29 goals. So far Chester has only conceded 27 so this could be a tough record to beat with nine games to go.

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Home Thoughts

Last Saturday’s victory over Stalybridge means that Chester has completed 12 months unbeaten at home for the second time since the club was reformed in 2010.

In fact the Blues have only been beaten once at the Exacta since December 2010 when Radcliffe Borough won 3-2 in the Evo-Stik North. Hednesford Town are the only side to take all three points away from the city, on January 21 last year, and this has prompted Chester to embark on an unbeaten sequence that currently stands at 25 league and cup games. The run started with a 2-1 league victory over Mickleover Sports when Alex Brown and Matt McNeil found the back of the net. Since then only Bradford Park Avenue and Northwich Victoria have avoided league defeat at fortress Deva while both Halifax and Worksop secured replays in cup competitions. This gives Chester an impressive home record of won 21, drawn four and lost none over twelve months.

Home Start - Alex Brown begins the unbeaten run v Mickleover Sports Copyright © Rick Matthews

Home Start – Alex Brown begins the unbeaten run v Mickleover
Copyright © Rick Matthews

This series is currently two short of the sequence set between January 2011 and January 2012 when the Blues went 27 league and cup games unbeaten. On that occasion the overall record was won 20 drawn seven and lost none.

Excluding cup games, the Blues are currently unbeaten in 22 home league matches with 20 victories including the last 9 outright since the 1-1 draw with Bradford Park Avenue in October. In the previous sequence, there were 25 league matches featuring 18 wins.

The best unbeaten home sequence in league and cup games was set in the 1970s. Between November 1973 and January 1975 Chester were unbeaten in 35 games. The run started with a 1-0 FA Cup victory over Telford United and ended when Rotherham won 1-0 at Sealand Road in a Division Four game. This sequence covered 27 league games, two FA Cup ties, five League Cup victories (including the 3-0 win over League Champiomns Leeds United) and one Welsh Cup tie.

If you only look at league games the record is 44 unbeaten games between August 1925  and September 1927 when Chester competed in the Cheshire County League. In addition,  between November 1907 and October 1908 Chester won 13 consecutive home league games which is the best home league winning sequence.

Unbeaten League Run

Prior to the 3-2 defeat at Boston United in September the Blues reached 23 unbeaten league games home and away so this Chester FC record is already under threat. The 4-1 win over Stalybridge was the 19th unbeaten game so, subject to the weather, this record will be beaten if defeat can be avoided in the fixtures up to and including the home game with Gainsborough Trinity. As mentioned in previous articles the overall club record is 31 games in the Combination between January 1908 and March 1909.

and finally

The unbeaten home record has seen Chester score 65 goals and concede only 17. Amongst this total there has been three hat tricks. Chris Simm scored three against Marine, on the day the Championship Trophy was presented, while Ben Mills scored three against Guiseley and Craig Curran claimed a trio against Bishop’s Stortford. Craig’s treble is unique in that it made him the first Chester player to come off the substitute’s bench and score a hat-trick.

Unique substitute - Craig Curran scores his second v Bishop's Stortford Copyright © Rick Matthews

Unique substitute – Craig Curran scores his second v Bishop’s Stortford
Copyright © Rick Matthews

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Blown Away

While writing this Friday’s Leader article I checked back through the records for Chester’s biggest away win and was surprised by how far I had to go back to find an away league victory by a similar margin. Here are some associated statistics.

The 6-0 win at Hinckley United was Chester’s first ever game in Leicestershire and equalled the highest score for the newly reformed club. The Blues have won 6-0 on three previous occasions. North Ferriby United were the last side to suffer a similar defeat with Chris Simm scoring a couple and Bradley Barnes coming off the bench to score his last Chester goal back in September 2011.

Chris Simm scores his second against North Ferriby United  Copyright © Rick Matthews

Chris Simm scores his second against North Ferriby United
Copyright © Rick Matthews

Simm also scored a brace on his Chester debut when Ossett Albion were hammered 6-0 in January 2011 with Michael Wilde scoring a hat-trick.

Michael Wilde on target against Ossett Albion  Copyright © Rick Matthews

Michael Wilde on target against Ossett Albion
Copyright © Rick Matthews

In addition, Wilde grabbed three in the memorable first Evo-Stik North game at the Exacta when Trafford were on the receiving end of a 6-0 thrashing.

You only have to go back to September last year to find the last time Chester scored six away from home when this Saturday’s opponents, Stalybridge Celtic, were overwhelmed 6-2 at Bower Fold with Iain Howard scoring his first Blues treble.

Iain Howard scores number 3 at Stalybridge  Copyright © Rick Matthews

Iain Howard scores number 3 at Stalybridge
Copyright © Rick Matthews

The six goal winning margin at Hinckley is the best for the new club surpassing the 5-0 wins at Bamber Bridge and Clitheroe in the first season.

Leigh RMI 2 Chester 6

Leigh RMI 2 Chester 6

When you look back to the Chester City days the last time six goals were scored away from home in a first team fixture was on New Year’s Day 2004 when Daryl Clare hit a hat-trick (and missed a penalty) in a 6-2 win at Leigh RMI. Darryn Stamp scored twice and Alex Smith added a magnificent sixth in stoppage time in a game where the Blues should have reached double figures.

In the Football League the last six goal haul was at Preston when Stuart Rimmer marked his 21st birthday with four goals in a memorable 6-3 victory. Further goals were added by John Kelly and Ricky Greenhough.

John Kelly scores at Preston

John Kelly scores at Preston

As far as victory margins go there are two games of note in the last 25 years when the Blues won by five clear goals. During Graham Barrow’s promotion season, in November 1993, Hereford United were overwhelmed 5-0 at Edgar Street. Prior to that Fulham were embarrassed by Harry McNally’s Blues in January 1987 when John Kelly scored twice and Derek Fazackerley made his debut in another 5-0 win.

Brymbo Steelworks 0 Chester 8

Brymbo Steelworks 0 Chester 8

When you start to look for six goal margin wins you really have to dig back through the records. In February 1968 the Blues made the very short journey across the border to play Brymbo Steelworks in a Welsh Cup tie and scored eight times without reply.

As far as league matches are concerned, Chester has never won by six goals in a Football League fixture and you need to go back 86 years to the Cheshire County League days to find an equivalent result. In April 1927 Ellesmere Port Town were beaten 7-0 and the same score was recorded at Bacup in 1911/12 and at Connah’s Quay United in 1908/09. This remains the record away league victory.

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100 Club

For those that missed it, here is my Leader column from Friday November 2nd which featured a statistical breakdown of Neil Young’s first 99 games in charge. Unless Chester and Corby are involved in FA Trophy replays the fixture between the sides next Wednesday will be the 100th league game.

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The 3-0 victory at local rivals Vauxhall Motors on Tuesday night was the 99th league game for Neil Young and Chester FC. As the Blues prepare to celebrate the 100th game it’s a good time to reflect on what has been a phenomenal run of results over the last two and a half years.

The full record shows that Chester has won an incredible 71 league games since the first game was played at Warrington Town in August 2010 and the Blues have only been beaten on 10 occasions with 18 games ending as draws. It’s impossible to find such a consistent run in the club’s history and for the nearest comparable sequence you have to go back to the turn of the last century.  Between 1906 and 1909 Chester only lost nine games in three seasons although that covered just 82 games.

In modern times Mark Wright’s City lost 16 of their first 100 games after the former Liverpool and England defender took charge of the Blues in January 2002.

The Blues have been almost impregnable at the Exacta and only Chorley, Radcliffe Borough and Hednesford Town have walked away with all three points. It is now 14 games unbeaten at home since Hednesford won in the city in the middle of January.

There can be no complaints about entertainment value over this period with the Blues scoring 242 goals to average just under two and a half goals a game. At the other end a mere 77 have been conceded. Neil Young’s side have now scored in each of the last 52 league games with Hednesford Town the last team to record a shut-out in August 2011. In fact only one other team has prevented Chester from scoring in the 99 games and that was Witton Albion in March 2011. The goalless draw, in the first season, remains the only occasion in which supporters have failed to see a goal from either side.

There have been plenty of high scoring games as well with the Blues putting six past Trafford, Osset Albion, North Ferriby and Stalybridge Celtic as well as scoring five on four occasions. As far as personal goalscoring is concerned there have been eight hat-tricks with Michael Wilde scoring five of them and Chris Simm, Ben Mills and Iain Howard recording the remaining three.

Furthermore, the defensive record is also second to none and when Boston United beat the Blues 3-2 in mid-September it was the first time that John Danby had conceded more than two goals in a league game since the 4-1 defeat at Nantwich more than 12 months earlier. That August Bank Holiday defeat to our county neighbours stands out like a sore thumb amongst the results and only two other sides have managed to score more than twice against the Blues. Curzon Ashton and Radcliffe Borough both scored three times in the Evo-Stik North during the first campaign.

Danby and the rest of the defence also created a club record by going 691 minutes without conceding a league goal between August and October 2011, a record extended by 90 minutes with the inclusion of a Cheshire Senior Cup tie at Hyde.

A number of other post-war records have also been created. By winning seven games at the start of this season the Blues equalled a record set in 1914/15. The defeat at Boston also ended a run of 23 unbeaten games, which was the best since 1908/09. In addition the 15 unbeaten away games and 10 consecutive victories were also the best since 1930/31.

Since the club started it has been surrounded by a very high level of expectancy and this has often overshadowed the incredible job that Neil Young has performed. The results over the first 99 games have been a great tribute to the management team and they can all be extremely proud of their achievements and the records they have created.

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FA Cup Observation

After Saturday’s draw at Gainsborough Trinity it occurred to me that on the last three occasions that Chester have drawn an away FA Cup game they have then proceeded to lose the home replay. Here’s hoping for a change in fortune on Wednesday.

For the record:

2009/10
Barrow (a) 1-1
Barrow (h) 0-4

2006/07
Bury (a) 2-2
Bury (h) 1-3

2005/06
Cheltenham Town (a) 2-2
Cheltenham Town (h) 0-1

In 2006 Chester did go through to the next round after Bury were thrown out of the cup for playing an ineligible player.

The last time Chester won a home FA Cup replay was in 1999/2000 when they beat Whyteleafe 3-1 after one of their worst ever cup performances down in Surrey when they drew 0-0.

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