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Five Fun Facts #10 Chester FC

Deva Stadium, Chester, Cheshire.

Chester FC are the subject of our latest five fun facts piece. Richard Bellis of Richard and Neil’s Football Blog does the honours.

1. Our Stadium is in Two Countries

Yes, that’s right. Our stadium, currently named the Exacta Stadium, bisects the England/Wales border. The main stand and offices are all in Cheshire, England, whilst the pitch and the other stands are in Flintshire, Wales. It’s the only stadium in the world to be in two countries, but luckily you don’t need to take your passport to the turnstiles.

2. Zonal Captains

When Kevin Ratcliffe resigned as the manager of Chester City, our American owner and Chairman, Terry Smith, decided that he would take up the managerial reigns. He had been an American Football player and had coached the Great British Spartans, winning the European Cup with them.

He introduced a number of tactical innovations to help Chester City compete in the league. Zonal Captains was one such ploy. There was a captain of the defence, midfield and strikers, which meant that a captain was always nearby (why you need a captain around all the time is beyond me though). Other ploys Smith introduced included: very detailed notes he gave to each player before a match, and his recital of the Lord’s Prayer to inspire them.

His knowledge of Gridiron, however, did not transfer as well as he might have liked to football as Chester City plummeted straight to the bottom of the league, and eventual relegation to the Conference. A good video which shows the delusion of ‘The Mad Yank’ in all his glory can be found here.

3. The Fit and Proper Persons Test

Former owner of Chester City (and the man who killed the club) Stephen Vaughan was the first owner of a club to fail the FA’s much derided ‘Fit and Proper Persons Test’. This was after he was banned from being a director of any company after admitting committing carousel fraud whilst a director at Widnes Vikings rugby club. Managing to become only the second person to fail this test was probably Vaughan’s greatest achievement whilst in charge of the club.

4. Last team to be promoted

By 1974 Chester City were the only Football League team left to be promoted. Since joining the Football League’s Third Division North in 1931, the only divisional change that City had made was to the Fourth Division when the league was restructured. The 1974/75 under Ken Roberts saw Chester’s first ever promotion in the most nail-biting of fashions. Chester were level on points with Lincoln after playing their last game. Lincoln however, had one game in hand and only needed to draw to go up. Southport however, did Chester a huge favour and beat Lincoln 3-2 to allow Chester to go up with a goal average that was 0.3 better than Lincoln’s.

That season also saw Chester’s best ever cup run, when we made the semi-finals of the League Cup. After beating Walsall, Blackpool and Preston North End, we defeated the champions of England Leeds Utd 3-0 (!) before defeating Newcastle Utd after a replay. The semi-final saw us lose 5-4 against the Aston Villa side who would go on to win the competition. Brain Little broke Chester hearts with a late goal.

5. Famous Five Number five has to be for the ‘Famous Five’

In the 1964/65 season all five forwards at Chester scored at least 20 goals each in a ridiculously attack-minded season managed by the South African Peter Hauser. In total Gary Talbot, Mike Metcalf, Hugh Ryden, Elfred Morris and Jimmy Humes scored 116 of Chester’s 119 league goals and 138 of Chester’s 141 goals in total. Chester, however, failed to get promoted, as the massive focus on attack left the defence a little bit wanting.

Still that season has left an extraordinary legacy. Gary Talbot scored one of the fastest FA Cup hat-trick: 3 minutes and 30 seconds against Crewe, in a 5-0 battering. Jimmy Humes has the honour of being the last player to score a hat-trick against arch-rivals Wrexham, in a 6-1 humiliation of the Welshmen. The total goals for each player is as follows: Talbot 35, Metcalf 37, Ryden 22, Morris 24 and Humes 20. It is a fantastic achievement, and one that is unlikely to ever be matched.


Thanks go to Richard for those choice Chester facts. You can catch up with him on twitter and also head on over to The Blue and White, a fanzine that aims to provide stunning design and fantastic articles on Chester FC and football in general. Any profit made will be donated to the Junior Blues.

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Notes

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