Chester is a city in the North-West of England that strays close to the Welsh border. It is a fascinating part of the country, steeped in culture and rife with historical relevance. Once a Roman fort situated in an ideal location on the River Dee, it was named Deva Victrix and remnants of those ancient times are still prevalent within the city to this very day.
The walls that engulf the medieval part of Chester are the most accomplished in the British Isles. And the black and white Tudor houses still stand intact along a quaint cobbled high-street. Not often is the history of a town or city so eminent, but it has been wonderfully preserved here.
It’s a place known and loved for a plethora of reasons, but certainly not for it’s football team. Although that doesn’t meant their story is any less of a fascinating one to tell.
The City’s current team, Chester FC, are currently loitering in the lower reaches of the Conference: the first division outside of the classic Football League. Whilst on the face of it there is nothing overly spectacular about that, the club’s modern history has been without doubt the most turbulent in it’s long existence.
Chester City FC was established back in 1885. They played at the Deva Stadium and were allocated Football League status in 1931. From their first appearance in 1931 up until 2009, the club only spent four years out of the Football League. Famous former players include Ian Rush, Roberto Martinez and Cyrille Regis.
Trouble was brewing a while before the club dropped out of the Football League at the end of the 2009 season. But it was that relegation that sparked a chain of woes both on and off the pitch.
The owner of the club at this point was Stephen Vaughan Jr. His father, Vaughan Snr, had invested heavily in Chester City after taking over back in 2002, but to little avail. From a financial point of view, the club was hopelessly mismanaged and these inadequacies ultimately manifested themselves in real significant fashion during the 2008/09 season.
In January 2009, the club was loitering in the lower reaches of League 2. At this point, with the transfer window open, they should have been rallying; strengthening in order to preserve their league status. But riddled with monetary deficiencies, Chester had to ship out most of their senior players in the window. From the subsequent wreckage of those sales, a team with untried youth players at it’s core were left to battle the drop. Unfortunately, a return to the conference (and non-league football) was inevitable.