Tuesday 10 September 2013

Best and Worst

We want to hear about Exiles' best and worst away games, which sum up the ecstasy and the agony of being a Chester fan on the road. Your choices needn't be all about the result - perhaps a funny incident or disaster en-route makes them memorable. Send yours by email to: blog@chesterexiles.co.uk.

We kick off with two matches nominated by West Sussex-based Exile Adrian Lee



In that fateful season 600 Blues travelled to East London, clutching at straws.

We’d lost to nine-man Carlisle the previous week and the revival under Ian Atkins seemed to have stalled. In a three-way fight with Carlisle and Shrewsbury we were firm favourites to drop out of the football league.

Yet, despite going a goal down against Orient in torrential rain the team played like men possessed and the away fans responded. The chant of “Ian Atkins blue and white army” was incessant and, it seemed, everyone in that stand joined in. I’ll never forget the sight of one very elderly fan, a blanket covering his knees, being swept along in the tide of enthusiasm.

We were rewarded with an equaliser from Carl Heggs and with 30 minutes left Neil Fisher became the unlikely match winner.

This wasn’t the greatest game of football I’ve ever seen but it was the one that has always made me most proud to follow Chester. It summed up perfectly what it’s all about and I wish that atmosphere, with all of us pulling together and unconditionally behind the team, could be bottled. Even the Orient fans seemed impressed and at the end the players joined us to celebrate.

I left that game hoarse, firmly believing the Great Escape was back on. It wasn’t to be but it’s a memory I’ll always treasure.

Chester City: Brown, Woods, Hicks, Hobson, Fisher, Hemmings, Porter, Richardson, Carden, Beckett, Heggs.



Relegation to the Conference had its compensations. New grounds to visit and the chance of a cup run in the FA Trophy were top of my shortlist.

Under Graham Barrow progress to the two-legged semi-final was relatively comfortable and only Canvey Island stood between the Blues and a day out at Villa Park.

Heading down to the Essex coast I promised my girlfriend that we’d make a day of it. Lunch at a nice wine bar with breathtaking sea views followed by the formality of a win against a team from a lower league. It didn’t work out that way.

Canvey was a caravan park and, to misquote Ian Botham, you wouldn’t send your mother-in-law there. We ended up grabbing a burger in the roughest pub imaginable, where a pit-bull gently nuzzled my leg.

The ground wasn’t much better. The pitch looked like the tide had just gone out and pre-match entertainment consisted of watching giant oil tankers sail behind one of the goalmouths.

The players didn’t fancy it much either. Frankly the 2-0 scoreline flattered us and Barrow’s post-match analysis said it all. “Embarrassing”. To add insult to injury they stuffed us in the return leg, too. I’ve never quite got over it but at least it spelled the beginning of the end for one Terry Smith.

Chester City: Brown, Fisher, Doughty, Lancaster, Ruffer, P. Beesley, Carden, Porter, Woods, M. Beesley, Ruscoe.