From a Distance

I came across a couple of fascinating photographs of the old Sealand Road ground recently and would like to thank former Manweb employee, Peter Thomas, for allowing me to use them. Peter’s pictures were taken from the top of the old Manweb building which was itself demolished at the turn of the century. I’ve added a couple of my own pictures, taken in 1990, which also show the outside of the ground from a slightly different viewpoint.

The two Manweb pictures show the view looking up Sealand Road towards the city centre. The patch of green on the left of Sealand Road is the Greyhound Stadium with the old football ground just above it. I think that the pictures were taken in the mid 1970s based on the work that appears to be taking place between the two stadiums. I believe that this is the construction of the small industrial estate that was built following the sale of the old training annexe in 1973. It also appears as if the picture was taken before the new office block was built at the front of the ground, around the time of promotion in 1975. You can just make out the old wooden office at the corner of the Main Stand and Sealand Road End. The old wooden main stand was replaced in 1979.

The Greyhound Stadium was itself demolished around 1986 while the football ground was vacated in 1990 and then eventually knocked down in 1992.

The third picture was taken from the inner ring-road in spring 1990 and shows how much the old ground used to stand out on the skyline.

The final picture is taken from Bumpers Lane before the final game against Rotherham United in April 1990.

If anyone else has any further thoughts on the dates of the photos taken from the top of the Manweb building I would be interested to hear any comments.

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Observer Posters

After I published the On The Buses article Tommy Jones reminded me about the car stickers produced by the now defunct Cheshire Observer in the mid-1970s. As a follow up I thought it might be an idea to put something together about these posters which even at the time seemed peculiarly dated.  I did write about them in a programme article earlier in the season but I’ve included a couple of additional examples for this piece.

I seem to remember that the very first one was launched during summer 1974 and have a vague memory of the Cheshire Observer asking readers what the phrase “Chester 3-4-5′ meant. At the time there was no indication that the phrase was linked to Chester FC so I don’t think anyone initially had any idea what on earth it was all about. For those still unsure it meant Chester for Division Three 1974/75. It may make vague sense now but it certainly seemed obscure when it was introduced. I haven’t got an example of the Chester 3-4-5 sticker but if anyone else has got one I’ll add it to the piece.

Chester 3-4-5 was quickly followed by Support Chester FC and then Forget The Cup We’re Going Up after the League Cup Semi-Final defeat to Aston Villa Following promotion the Observer went into overdrive and produced the classic “Let Chester Shout With Glee Seals Are In Division Three”. Possibly the last time the word glee was used in any sentence until the recent television programme salvaged the word from obscurity.

Flush with success the Observer then produced two more stickers for the first season in Division Three.

Chairman Reg Rowlands went to town with the stickers following promotion by proudly displaying a selection in the window of his florist’s shop in Bridge Street along with other memorabilia.

Reg Rowlands shop after promotion in 1975

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who knows if any other stickers were produced.

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On The Buses

Older Chester supporters may remember the match adverts that used to appear on the maroon Corporation buses in the 1970s. I can remember the luminous green posters on the school buses and it was not unknown for them to end up in the hands of Chester supporting school kids. I managed to pick up a couple myself after they mysteriously worked themselves loose from the bus window. Larger versions of these garish adverts were also located on boards outside the Stadium. In the late 1970s it was possible to buy small card versions for 10p from the club shop which used to occupy the Georgian House on Grosvenor Road.

At a recent Senior Blues meeting I was talking to supporter Fraser Warburton who was telling me that these adverts appeared on buses as long ago as the early 1960s which surprised as I always thought they were a 1970s phenomenon.

The examples here are from the 1961/62 season when Chester played in green and gold and this is reflected in the colour of the posters although it looks the background may have faded slightly.

Fraser remembers cycling down to Stamford Road in Blacon where the buses used to wait before returning to the city centre, and asking the conductor if he could have the posters.

Games continued to be advertised until summer 1967 when the club objected to the council’s decision to charge £50 to continue with the arrangement.

The adverts re-appeared in the 1970s and my first example is from 1976 but I have a feeling they may have existed before this date. Does anyone know when and under what circumstances they came back? I’m wondering if it coincided with promotion in the 1974/75 season when the council were perhaps eager to cash in on the club’s success. The last dated poster is from 1978 but again they probably remained on buses for a short time after this as I have some of the cardboard adverts from the 1979/80 campaign.I’m not sure that these adverts would work in the present day with de-regulation and anonymity of current buses and I’m sure health and safety would have a say about sticking posters on windows. Nevertheless they were an extremely useful marketing tool for the era when there were far fewer media outlets.

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500 Games – Full Breakdown

As promised, for those of you who like poring over dull statistics, here is the complete record at the Deva Stadium following the 2-1 victory against Mickleover Sports on Saturday. The row and column headers should be self-evident.

It is noticeable how poor the home record is for the old City side with almost as many games ending in defeat (165) as in victory (168). Perhaps this is unsurprising when you consider that four of the 18 seasons ended in relegation and the figures also include the disastrous 2009/10 season. In comparison there were two promotion seasons and two seasons where City reached the play-offs.

Inevitably the highest number of victories for City were chalked up in the promotion seasons of 1993/94 and 2003/04 as well as the 2000/01 season when they won seven games in cup competitions reaching the Third Round of the FA Cup, FA Trophy Semi-Final and Nationwide Variety Trophy Final. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that most goals were scored in the 1995/96 season when Kevin Ratcliffe was manager although there was the bonus of having Cyrille Regis leading the attack for two-thirds of the campaign.

The statistics for Chester FC put the previous 18 seasons to shame. The club have already scored 109 goals in total and suffered only four defeats compared to 29 victories.

There are a couple of anniversaries that should be reached before the end of the season. Chester FC need 6 more goals to reach 100 league goals while three more wins will see the 200th victory at the ground. In addition another 5 goals will see the 600th goal conceded but with a bit of luck this will be avoided until next season.

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500th Game at the Deva Stadium

This Saturday’s game against Mickleover Sports will be the 500th game played at the Deva Stadium.

It’s 20 years in August since the first game was played at the ground, when Stockport County were the visitors. The grand total takes into account all first team league and cup matches played by Chester City and Chester FC.

I thought I would use my first proper post to briefly explain how I came to this figure and after Saturday’s game I will publish the full statistical breakdown. There will also be some more detail in Friday’s Leader article.

The games for Chester FC are easily accounted for and the Hednesford defeat was the 41st match at the ground. Although I have included last season’s Cheshire Senior Cup tie against Congleton Town I have excluded the county cup ties played when the Blues were in the Conference between 2000 and 2004. Although the competition was technically meant for non-league teams the old City never treated it as such and invariably played a second eleven. I used the same principle for first team matches in On The Borderline.

The pre-2010 Chester played 458 games at the Deva Stadium. This figure excludes the three abandoned games against Worksop Town in 2003, Stockport County in 2008 and Eastbourne Borough in 2009. However I believe it is valid to include all the games from the truncated 2009/10 season even though they were technically expunged from the record books.

While putting together these figures a couple of other recent landmarks came to light. First of all Chris Clements opening goal for Hednesford last Saturday was the 500th league goal conceded at the ground. Somehow it seems a lot more. Secondly Michael Powell’s second goal against Worksop Town was the 700th goal league and cup strike from the Blues.

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