Chester's FA Trophy dreams were cruelly shattered on Saturday as their 5-1 thumping of North Ferriby United wasn't enough to ensure Wrexham's safe passage to Round Two. Despite moving within a few minutes of a Wembley final and pocketing thousands of Euros in prize money, the competition is now as irrelevant as the Evo-Bond Prime Minister's Shield to Blues fans who crossed their fingers for a distinctly losable tie when the draw for the last 32 was made today.
Eventually, Chester drew a grim away tie at that weird Gravesend/Ebbsfleet side they have in the south.
"I hope we play the kids that I'm so excited about us bringing through - and then I hope they get roundly beaten. We need to concentrate on the league now, no silly distractions like a big piece of silverware," said East Stand die-hard Mick McMock.
Club officials had hoped that the very outside chance of drawing the Blue Square Premier pace-setters in the next round would provide a welcome distraction from the controversy over Boxing Day's trip to Northwich Victoria, but quote-happy media king Jaffa Cakes confirmed that Wrexham's unceremonious dumping from a competition that could have aided their financial woes is as big a blow to the Blues as it is to their hilarious neighbours.
"We know the fans were desperate for an all-ticket trip down the A483 at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to find the pubs closed and riot police herding them around the streets like cattle before a damp squib of a defeat. Now all we're left with is an all-ticket trip down the A54 at a sociable hour on a Bank Holiday for a pulsating top of the table clash. Everyone's gutted. Gutted."
Blues boss Neil Young was more upbeat, admitting after the match that the opportunity to get knocked out without anyone caring was a welcome relief as he "gets a bit nauseous" when venturing out of Radio Merseyside's broadcast radius;
"Just between me and you, I was dreading the idea that we might actually end up getting to Wembley. It would've been on TV and everything - I'm just not comfortable with that level of exposure. Next thing you know, I'm a style icon and everyone's wearing puffer jackets like it's the 90's again. No thanks."
The game at Grange Lane was a straightforward win for Young's men, Michael Wilde and Matty McNeil netting before half time, allowing attentions to be turned to events elsewhere, in much the same way as at Garforth last season. Chester scored a further three in the second half but were visibly deflated by the news filtering through from North Wales that Comical Wrexham were being beaten like they stole something.
Details of Chester's goals are somewhat sketchy since Chronicle word-smith The Tall Peacock opted to finish his Christmas shopping instead of making the journey to Humberside, leaving Chester fans pondering the question "If Chester score a goal and The Tall Peacock isn't there to Tweet it, does it actually count?"