Scotland Tour 1992 – Vale of Athol

After playing East Stirlingshire on the Saturday, Chester paid a visit to Vale of Athol for an informal game against a team organised by Morrisons, the Scottish company that built the Deva Stadium. The team, largely comprised of youngsters, was notable for an appearance by manager Harry McNally at right back.

Only a handful of supporters attended the match, which Chester won 5-0. I’m grateful to Dave Wright for his photos of the game and the team line-up which estimates the crowd as between 25 and 30.

Chester played in the rarely seen red shirt and the match proved memorable for an injury sustained by McNally early in the second half. At first it was believed he had twisted his ankle but this turned out to be a broken leg and supporters may remember him hobbling around at the start of the first season at the new ground.

Dave has these memories of the Vale of Athol game:

I remember we got a taxi to the ground/pitch and wondered how we would get back. As luck would have it the people from Morrison’s offered us a lift back into town, but that changed to the hotel where the team were having post match food. We then had to rush for our train back to Edinburgh. When stepping on to the train I slipped and my right leg went between the train and the platform edge, it hurt and I still have the scar on my leg.

Another fan who attended the game with Dave was Howard Jolley. He remembers that the game was meant to be played at Pitlochry but when they arrived they found a fairground on the pitch and discovered that the match had been moved a couple of miles down the road to a Sunday League pitch at Vale of Athol. There were four Chester fans at the ground and Howard recalls that Sunderland were on tour in Scotland at the same time and quite a few fans had gone to see them play instead.

Like Dave he also remembers waiting in the car park and being taken by Morrisons staff back to the hotel where they were given food and drink with the players.

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Scotland Tour 1992 – Cowdenbeath

Chester’s final match of the 1992 Scottish tour saw them play out a dull goalless draw against Cowdenbeath at their Central Park ground.

Unlike the other two grounds on the tour Central Park remains and is still shared with stock-car racing. At the time of Chester’s visit the stadium was looking very neglected with untidy fencing and portakabins after half the stand had burnt down earlier in the year.

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Scotland Tour 1992 – Dumbarton

After the first game of the tour, at East Stirlingshire, a City select eleven faced a team put together by Morrison’s, the company building the new Deva Stadium, the following day. An article and photos of this game will follow.

On Monday, Chester played their second first team fixture of the tour at Dumbarton. The game was played at Boghead Park, another Scottish ground that no longer exists having been vacated in 2000. The match finished 0-0 with City playing in red and manager Harry McNally in plaster after breaking his leg in the friendly the previous day.

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Scotland Tour 1992 – East Stirlingshire

Chester’s second pre-season tour to Scotland took in games against East Stirlingshire, Dumbarton and Cowdenbeath along with an unscheduled fixture at Vale of Atholl. The first match was staged at East Stirlingshire’s Firs Park with Chester winning 5-2. Eddie Bishop scored a hat-trick with the other two goals scored by Stuart Rimmer and John Kelly.

East Stirlingshire vacated Firs Park in 2008 and it was demolished in 2012.

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Scotland Tour 1990 – East Fife

Following the game at Berwick Rangers on the Saturday Chester travelled up to East Fife for a Monday night fixture. Chester won the game 3-1 with goals from Neil Ellis, Graham Barrow and Carl Dale.

The game was played at Bayview Park which was vacated in 1998. East fife now play at the Bayview Stadium.

I couldn’t attend the final game of the tour at Meadowbank Thistle so unfortunately I have no photos of the game.

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Scotland Tour 1990 – Berwick Rangers

In August 1990 Chester embarked on their tour to Scotland with games against Berwick Rangers, East Fife and Meadowbank Thistle. The first match at Berwick ended 1-1 with Carl Dale scoring for Chester.

These are my photos taken at Berwick’s Shielfield Park. This gallery is of interest for lovers of old photos of football grounds rather than being specifically Chester related.

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Deva Stadium Part 3

The final batch of pictures were taken after the turf was laid in May 1992 as the race to have the ground ready before the start of the season continued. Thanks to former programme editor John Martin for supplying many of these photographs which were taken by developers Morrisons. The remaining pictures were again provided by Fraser.

Of particular interest are the aerial views of the ground including a superb unique photograph showing both the Deva Stadium and the derelict Sealand Road ground. It is also possible to see the Stadium floodlights in one of Fraser’s pictures.



















As a precaution Chester’s early season league fixtures had to be re-scheduled to allow for the ground to be completed and the season started with four away games where only one point was collected. The stadium staged it’s first game, in the Coca Cola Cup against Stockport, on August 25th and the first league game was played on September 5th against Burnley with Chester winning 3-0, Neil Morton had the honour of scoring the first league goal with Chris Lightfoot and Paul Comstive also on target.

The first league programme included a centre stage spread listing the materials used in the construction and, taken with the complete sequence of photographs, they merely serve to emphasise what was in effect a rush job. The list was as follows:

6,500 Tons of ready mixed concrete
52,000 Concrete blocks
48,000 Bricks
4,500 sq metres cladding
2,000 litres paint
40 miles cable
100 Electric sockets
550 Light fittings
171 Doors
1.5 miles Drainage pipes
16 Standards timber
4.5 Tonnes nails and screws

Twenty years on older fans like me still mourn the loss of the Sealand Road ground and it’s a shame that the shambolic events surrounding the sale of the old stadium resulted in a cobbled together compromise. It could have been so much better.

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