Chester City Football Club
Chester City has been an unsettled club since its formation, experiencing more than its fair share of financial problems and tough seasons over the past century.
The team colours seem to represent this instability, as Chester have changed their strip numerous times, finally settling, in 1995, on the blue and white stripes that we see today. They currently play in League Two and their home matches take place at the Deva Stadium, which is their fifth home ground.
Foundations and Early Silverware
Chester City was founded in 1885 when Chester Rovers and Old King’s Scholars FC merged. In 1890, after five years of friendly games, they joined the Combination League. The early years were dominated by numerous moves to different grounds.
Starting off at Faulkner Street, the team moved to The Old Showground in 1898, but this was demolished in 1899. In 1901, they moved to Whipchord Lane and five years later, moved to Sealand Road, which was known simply as ‘The Stadium’. This would prove to be their first real home, and it provided them with a new and welcome stability.
During these formative years, Chester managed to win their first piece of silverware: the Cheshire Senior Cup, in 1895. Between the 1903/04 season and the 1907/08 campaign, they also finished as runners-up in the Combination League. Consistently pushing to become champions, Chester finally achieved their aim in 1909, which pre-empted a switch to the Lancashire Combination League.
The Football League
Along with several other local clubs, Chester became founder members of the Cheshire County League, following the end of the First World War. They went on to win this league three times in the 1920s, claiming the trophy in 1922, 1926 and 1927.
The early 1930s saw the club exert themselves in order to become a League side. They appointed Charlie Hewitt as manager. Several club heroes started to emerge, and Arthur Gale’s heroic feat of 73 goals in 39 League games helped the side greatly.
On June 1st, 1931, they were elected to the Football League. For the rest of the decade, Chester never once failed to finish outside the top ten teams in Division Three North.
The FA Cup also brought success to the club, as they achieved their biggest win in 1933, beating Fulham 5-0. Another notable big win came in 1936 when they thumped York City FC 12-0. This win is still their biggest League win on record.
The start of the Second World War negatively affected the team but normal play resumed in 1946. They managed to finish third in the table, and won their third Welsh Cup triumph.
A quiet period for the club followed, as they struggled to make any real impression. In 1958 the divisions merged and Chester found themselves in the newly named Division Four. However, it would be another six years until they managed to finish in the top half of the table.
The 1960s brought some improvement. South African, Peter Hauser, was appointed as the new manager and Chester began the tough task of promotion to the next division. In the 1964/65 season they came close to achieving their aim, with the club’s five forwards all scoring an amazing 20 goals each.
However, the impressive total of 119 goals was not enough to guarantee promotion, and the following year saw a similar pattern emerge. The 1970/71 season was also disappointing, and the following few years were far from successful, as Chester City became disheartened.
Success at last
Chester had to wait several more years for real success. The 1974/1975 season saw the team start the campaign as the only team in the division never to have won a promotion. Chester City fans hoped that it would be their turn to taste success soon. Their hopes were realised, as they finished fourth in the table under the management of Ken Roberts.
This season was also notable for a semi-final place in the League Cup. Unfortunately, Aston Villa beat Chester after a devastating late goal but the team could still be proud of their memorable campaign, which included victories over Leeds United (at the time League champions) and Newcastle.
Making a home in Division Three
The rest of the decade saw them cement their place in Division Three. They finished fifth in 1978, their best position since the re-organisation of the lower leagues in the 1950s. Chester narrowly missed out on promotion by a painful two points, but things were definitely on the up.
During this decade they also managed the outstanding feat of reaching the FA Cup fifth round twice, firstly during the 1976/77 season and secondly during the 1979/80 season, under the Chairmanship of Alan Oaks.
However, the late 1970s will forever be associated with the emergence of a young player named Ian Rush. Unfortunately for Chester fans, after making a strong initial impression, Rush was sold for the record club price of £300,000.
Relegation and promotion
The loss of Rush left the team deflated, and in 1982 they were relegated. Shockingly, in 1984, they finished bottom of the whole of the League, although they did manage to get re-elected.
However, it wasn’t long before they were back to winning ways, and in 1986 they won promotion back to the Third Division under the management of Harry McNally. They continued this decent run of form, and in 1989 were unfortunate not to finish in a playoff position.
Down, up, down again
In 1990, the next chapter in the club’s stadium history began, as they moved out of Sealand Road. Homeless for a while, Chester were forced to share Macclesfield’s ground, the Moss Rose, until they were welcomed into the Deva Stadium in 1992.
This unsettled period had a detrimental effect on their performances, and once again they suffered the torment of relegation at the end of the 1992/93 season. They came back strongly, though, winning promotion to Division Two the following season. However, it was clear that the club had run out of steam when, amazingly, they went down once again the following year.
Dark days lay ahead for Chester City. In October 1998, the club entered administration after nearly going bankrupt. They were rescued in July 1999 by American, Terry Smith, who appointed himself as manager. A disastrous campaign followed, with only four wins in four months.
The appointment of Ian Atkins as manager came too late to save Chester City, and at the end of the season, after 69 years in the Football League, they were relegated to the Conference following a home defeat to Portsmouth United.
Financial problems loomed over the club for a while longer, and the threat of a further disastrous relegation was a constant worry. However, Terry Smith sold the club to Stephen Vaughn in October 2001, a move which signalled a return to form. Mark Wright took over as manager at the start of 2002, and they managed to avoid relegation.
Back in the League
As issues off the pitch were gradually resolved, the results on the field also improved. The following season, Chester managed to reach the Conference playoffs. Unfortunately, they failed to win but the subsequent season saw the side top the table and achieve automatic qualification to the Football League once more, as they secured their first Championship for 77 years.
The next few years brought mixed fortune to the club. Mark Wright resigned as manager on the day before the start of the 2004/05 season. By the end of August, Chester were languishing at the bottom of the table.
An old hero returned, though, in the shape of Ian Rush. He managed to steer the side to safety, although the team’s style of play suffered as a result. Following the departure of Rush, Keith Curle was appointed as manager.
Mark Wright made a surprise comeback in 2006, to help the team move away from the bottom of the table. At the moment, Chester remain in League Two, under the management of Bobby Williamson.
The club can be contacted as follows:
Tel: 01244 371376
Fax: 01244 390265
Chester City Football Club
The Deva Stadium
For general enquiries, you can also use the online form on the club website.
The Vaughn (East), Liversage (West) and APC Overnight (away fans) stands:
- Adult: £16
- Concession: £11
- Under 16: £5
North Harry Mcnally Terrace:
- Adult: £14
- Concession: £9
- Under 16: £4
- Adult: £29
- Concession: £24
East and West Stands
- Adult: £304
- Concession: £209
- Under 16: £95
- Adult: £551
- Concession: £456
North Harry Mcnally Terrace:
- Adult: £266
- Concession: £171
- Under 16: £76
Concessions apply to over 65s and full time students with NUS card.
If coming from the South or the East, exit the A55 when you reach the A483. Follow signs to Chester, and then turn left into Nicholas Street. Keep following this road until you reach Watergate Street, and then go down this until you reach Sealand Road. Keep going for a mile until you find Bumpers Lane on the left, and the ground is at the end of the lane.
If coming from the North, exit the A550 at Sealand Road and carry on as above.
From Chester Station, head up city road to the end, and then take a right down Foregate Street until it becomes Watergate Street. Keep going past the racecourse until it becomes Sealand Road. Turn left at the lights into Bumpers Lane, and the ground is at the end. It should take about 45 minutes to reach the ground from the station.
- Football Conference Champions: 2003/04
- Welsh Cup Champions: 1907/08, 1932/33, 1946/47
- Debenhams Cup Champions: 1976/77
- Division Three North Cup Champions: 1935/36, 1936/37
- Cheshire County League Champions: 1921/22, 1925/26, 1926/27
- The Combination Champions: 1908/09
- Nationwide Variety Club Trophy Champions: 2000/01
- Cheshire Senior Cup Champions: 1894/95, 1896/97, 1903/04, 1907/08, 1908/09, 1930/31, 1931/32
- Lancashire Cup Champions: 1956/57
- Cheshire League Challenge Cup Champions: 1923/24 (shared)
- Cheshire Senior Medals Champions: 1926/27
- Cheshire Bowl Champions: 1932/33, 1934/35, 1936/37, 1940/41, 1943/44, 1944/45, 1945/46, 1953/54, 1964/65
- Cheshire Premier Cup Champions: 1977/78, 1978/79, 1980/81