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:

Barrow (a) 1-1
Barrow (h) 0-4

Bury (a) 2-2
Bury (h) 1-3

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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FA Cup Winning Numbers

The recent articles on league records seems to have attracted a lot of attention so I’ve put together some basic FA Cup statistics which I may develop depending on progress in the competition.

Saturday’s game at Gainsborough Trinity will be the first time that Chester have appeared in the Second Qualifying Round of the competition since they were beaten by Bangor City in 1927. The last time they won at this stage was 1925 when Witton Albion were beaten 4-2 after a replay.

I’ve put together a table showing the rounds that Chester have reached since they first entered the competition in 1886. It doesn’t completely reflect the progress that has been made as the round numbering has changed over the years. For instance Chester has reached the last 16 on three occasions. In 1890/91 this meant an exit in the Second Round but in 1976/77 and 1979/80 this meant elimination at the Fifth Round stage.

This is the 107th year in which Chester have competed in the FA Cup since they were formed in 1885. There have been eleven seasons when they didn’t enter and ten wartime seasons

The following list shows the round in which Chester were knocked out of the competition:

Fifth Round (2) – 1979/80, 1976/77

Fourth Round (7) – 1986/87, 1969/70, 1947/48, 1946/47, 1938/39, 1936/37, 1932/33

Third Round (16) – 2006/07, 2005/06, 2004/05, 2000/01, 1999/2000, 1996/97, 1993/94, 1990/91, 1973/74, 1970/71, 1965/66, 1964/65, 1951/52, 1945/46, 1937/38, 1934/35

Second Round (22) – 2002/03, 1997/98, 1994/95, 1991/92, 1989/90, 1988/89, 1978/79, 1977/78, 1975/76, 1968/69, 1967/68, 1963/64, 1961/62, 1959/60, 1958/59, 1957/58, 1949/50, 1948/49, 1935/36, 1933/34, 1931/32, 1890/91

First Round (28) – 2008/09, 2007/08, 2003/04, 1998/99, 1995/96, 1992/93, 1987/88, 1985/86, 1984/85, 1983/84, 1982/83, 1981/82, 1980/81, 1974/75, 1972/73, 1971/72, 1966/67, 1962/63, 1960/61, 1956/57, 1955/56, 1954/55, 1953/54, 1952/53, 1950/51, 1889/90, 1887/88, 1886/87

Fourth Qualifying Round (6) – 2009/10, 2001/02, 1921/22, 1911/12, 1910/11, 1888/89

Third Qualifying Round (3) – 1925/26, 1908/09, 1892/93

Second Qualifying Round (8) – 1927/28, 1923/24, 1914/15, 1913/14, 1905/06, 1895/96, 1893/94, 1891/92

First Qualifying Round (7)  – 1912/13, 1907/08, 1901/02, 1898/99, 1897/98, 1896/97, 1894/95

Preliminary Round (6) – 1928/29, 1926/27, 1924/25, 1922/23, 1919/20, 1909/10

Extra Preliminary round (1) – 1930/31

Didn’t enter (11) – 2011/12, 2010/11, 1929/30, 1920/21, 1906/07, 1904/05, 1903/04, 1902/03, 1900/01, 1899/1900, 1885/86

The most rounds the club has played in a season is six in both 1890/91 and 1921/22 although they received a bye in the Fourth Qualifying Round in 1890 when Irish side Cliftonville scratched from the competition. In 1921 they played in eight games which is the highest number of games in a season.

The biggest victory came in 1892 when Liverpool side Stanley were beaten 11-0. Chester also hit double figures in 1927 when Lostock Gralam were hammered 10-1.

The worst defeat came in 1890/91 when eventual cup winners Blackburn Rovers won 7-0.

and finally

Chester’s FA Cup record is not as impressive as the League Cup. They have never beaten a team from the top tier in the FA Cup and there have been only three occasions when they have beaten a team playing at least two divisions above them.

While playing in the Fourth Division, in 1969/70, Chester beat Second Division Bristol City 2-1 with goals from Keith Webber and Billy Dearden. More recently, in 2000, Graham Barrow’s Blues came from 2-0 down to beat Oxford United 3-2 in one of the most exciting games seen at the Deva Stadium. At the time Chester were in the Conference while Oxford were struggling at the bottom of the third tier of league football. Two years later the Blues were still in the Conference when they won by a single Chris Tate goal at Colchester United.

On this basis I would put forward the Bristol City game as, at least statistically, Chester’s finest ever FA Cup victory. It is a game that is rarely mentioned and perhaps should be elevated above the 5-0 win against Fulham in 1932/33 and the 2-0 Third Round win at Newcastle in 1979/80 when the opponents were only one division higher.

Best ever FA Cup victory?

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More Winning Numbers

After three more victories, against Altrincham, Solihull Moors and FC Halifax Town, here is an update on the current records. I’ve also added a couple of additional statistics to accompany them.

Best start to a season

After six wins the club record of seven consecutive victories from the start of a season will be equalled if Chester can beat Guiseley on Saturday. On reflection I think it is valid to include the 1914/15 season so it is currently a 98 year old record that is up for grabs.

Unbeaten League Run

We have now reached 22 games unbeaten but there is still a long way to go to reach the 31 games in the Combination between January 1908 and March 1909.

Unbeaten Away Record

Victories at Altrincham and Solihull have equalled the Chester FC record of 15 unbeaten away games. If defeat is avoided at Boston United and Stalybridge Celtic the club record of 17,  set in 1930/31, will be equalled.

Chester have won the last 10 away games which beats the 9 away victories in 2010/11. The overall club record of successive away league victories is 13 in 1930/31.

Consecutive games scored

Chester have now scored in 45 consecutive league games which is comfortably a record.

Consecutive league victories

The last time that Chester dropped a point was in the 1-1 draw with Northwich Victoria that clinched promotion in April. Neil Young’s side have now won the last nine games which equals the reformed club’s record set in the nine matches immediately prior to the Northwich fixture. This also means that Chester have won 18 of the last 19 games.

The club record was set between  November 1925 and February 1926 when 13 victories were recorded in the Cheshire County League.

Individual goalscoring record

Ben Mills has scored in five consecutive league games which equals the Chester FC record set by Michael Wilde when he scored against Cammell Laird, Mossley, Ossett Albion, Skelmersdale United and Radcliffe Borough in the first season.

Wildey scores against Skelmersdale United. Copyright © Rick Matthews

It’s also worth mentioning Matt McGinn, who scored in four games in September last year, while Michael Powell also banged in four in the last four games of 2010/11.

The club record was set by Bill Pendergast in the 1938/39 season when he scored in 12 consecutive Division Three North games. He also netted against Bradford City in the FA Cup in the middle of this sequence. Prior to that Arthur Gale scored in nine consecutive games during 1930/31 when most goalscoring records were set.

Millsbot v Altrincham. Copyright © Rick Matthews

and finally

As you can imagine some of these figures are tricky to check so I hope my adding up is correct. If you think there are any errors please get in touch.

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Winning Numbers

Following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Colwyn Bay a few people were asking me about the best ever start to a season and this prompted me to quickly check up on a few more records before this afternoon’s game at Altrincham.

Best start to a season

As I pointed out in my last article, Chester are not known for winning the first game and the current run of three equals that of the 1978/79 season when Alan Oakes’ side won at Southend and then beat Walsall and Exeter at Sealand Road in the old Division Three.

Victory at Moss Lane today would equal the record of 1934/35 when Gateshead, Accrington and Hartlepools (twice) were defeated in Division Three North. The overall club record was seven wins in the Combination at the start of the 1906/07 season. There were also seven wins at the start of the 1914/15 campaign but I have discounted this because Chester later resigned from the league.

Unbeaten League Run

Chester are now unbeaten in 19 league games with the last defeat on January 21st at home to Hednesford Town. This is now the second longest sequence without a loss but there is a long way to go before the club record is beaten. Between January 1908 and March 1909 Chester went an incredible 31 games unbeaten in the Combination.

However the current run has beaten the Chester FC league record. Following the 3-2 home defeat to Radcliffe Borough on December 11th 2010 the Blues didn’t lose again until the 2-1 setback at Lancaster City on March 19th 2011, a run of 16 games.

This sequence also passes the 18 game unbeaten run set by Mark Wright’s Conference promotion team which started with a 2-1 win over Shrewsbury in August 2003 and was ended, by Stevenage Borough, at the Deva in December. The 1934/35 team, which finished third in Division Three North, also remained undefeated for 18 games between October 1934 and February 1935.

Unbeaten Away Record

Chester are now unbeaten in 13 away games, a run which stretches back to the 2-1 defeat at Bradford Park Avenue on November 2nd last year.

In 2010/11 the Blues went 15 games unbeaten away from the Deva. Starting with the 1-1 draw at Warrington Town in the very first game Chester didn’t lose a league away game until the aforementioned 2-1 setback at Lancaster in March.

The club record for away 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.

Consecutive games scored

One record that has been smashed is the record for scoring in consecutive games. Chester have now scored in every league fixture for the last 12 months which is a run of 42 matches. The last time they failed to find the net was at Hednesford in the 1-0 defeat last year.

Since the club was re-formed in 2010 they have only failed to score in 2 out of 89 league matches. The other game, besides Hednesford, was the goalless draw at home to Witton Albion in March 2011.

The previous record was a run of 36 games between September 1930 and April 1931. Prior to this there were also two sequences of 28 games in the early 1900s.

and finally

In recognition of today’s game I thought I would mention that Chester’s record victory was set against Altrincham when they won 13-2 at Sealand Road in November 1929 and, just to bring everyone down to earth, on Bank Holiday Monday last year Chester lost 4-1 at Nantwich Town.

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Summertime Blues

While writing this weeks column for the Leader a couple of things struck me about Saturday’s big kick-off.

First of all, ignoring the new\reformed club argument, Chester will be playing in their fifth different league in five seasons and I’m struggling to think of any other club that can match this unique achievement. For the record the last five seasons read:

08/09 – Football League Two
09/10 – Blue Square Premier
10/11 – Evo-Stik North
11/12 – Evo-Stik Premier
12/13 – Blue Square North

I would be interested to know if anyone can think of any other club with a similar record.

Secondly, Chester has not won an opening day game since they beat Accrington Stanley 2-0 in 2006/07 which means it is now six seasons without a win. In fact, since the war, the record has not been particularly good with only 19 wins in 66 opening games so don’t expect big things on Saturday. Even these wins came in batches with six wins in an unbeaten run of eight seasons between 1965 and 1972 followed by a sequence of four successive victories between 1976 and 1979. Since the 3-2 win over Wimbledon in 1979 there have been only six wins in 32 seasons which is an extremely poor return.

David Pugh in the opening day of the 1991 season at Moss Rose. Chester 2 Fulham 0.

York City 4 Chester 4 in 1946

The overall post-war record is won 19 drawn 20 and lost 27. The game with the most goals was the very first match in 1946 when eight goals were shared at York. The biggest win was the 4-1 over Hereford United in 1977 which also marks the only time (besides the game at York) when Chester scored more than three goals. The biggest defeat was the never to be forgotten 6-0 hammering at Dagenham & Redbridge in 2008 when Simon Davies’ team imploded in spectacular style. There were also heavy defeats at home to Northampton Town in 1987 (a freakish 0-5) and, less surprisingly, 1-4 to Bradford City in Mike Pejic’s first game in charge in 1994. The most frequent result has been 1-1 on 10 occasions and both Chester FC games have ended in that scoreline.

Anyone looking for omens before Saturday’s game at Oxford City should be aware that the Blues have never won an opening game following promotion with a record as follows:

Crystal Palace 2 Chester 0. First game in Division Three

1975/76 Crystal Palace (a) 0-2
1986/87 Carlisle United (h) 2-2
1994/95 Bradford City (h) 1-4
2004/05 Notts County (a) 1-1
2011/12 Rushall Olympic (h) 1-1

Strangely Chester have never won an opening game in a season in which they have been promoted:

1974/75 Lincoln City (a) 1-2
1985/86 Halifax Town (h) 1-1
1993/94 Doncaster Rovers (h) 0-1
2003/04 Stevenage Borough (a) 0-0
2010/11 Warrington Town (a) 1-1
2011/12 Rushall Olympic (h) 1-1

Finally my own personal favourite opening day game would have to be the first Chester FC game at Warrington Town in 2010 which finished 1-1 and proved to be a memorable evening. In second place, for entirely different reasons,  would be the 1-0 win at Peterborough United in 2005 when Keith Curle put one over Mark Wright. This seemed a particularly joyous occasion at the time although it soon went downhill from there.

Honorary mentions should be also made of the 2-0 victory over Fulham at Moss Rose in 1991 when the announcement was made that Stuart Rimmer had rejoined the club.  The 1-0 win over Crewe in 1982 also sticks in the mind because it marked the end of a spectacularly dismal run of games which had ended in relegation from the old Division Three. At the time it at least promised the vague hope of a revival although in the end it was yet another false dawn.

Simmo in action v Rushall Olympic in last season’s opener. Copyright © Rick Matthews

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