Neil Young ordered his Chester squad in last night, but not for training. When quizzed, Young admitted to being "tickled" by the Northwich management situation, and said that he had brought the squad together for some collective laughing.
The Boxing Day Battle Royale still leaves a sour taste in the mouth of those connected with Chester FC, and with Northwich boss Andy Preece walking out on Monday, Young decided to set his troops a number of tasks in order to enjoy the misfortune of their supposed title rivals. The first exercise saw the starting eleven from Ebbsfleet line up and circle the bar with their arms wide open in the manner of an aeroplane, to symbolically mock the departure of Preece to Welsh Premier league outfit Airbus UK Broughton.
For the next challenge, Young asked the squad to pair off and see who could do the best John Disney impression, with extra points on offer for elaboration. With the prize up for grabs revealed to be a day's free use of the Dee 106.3 cat costume, ex-Chester City midfielder Ben Davies made a return to the Exacta especially for the challenge, intimating that he's "always up for a bit of play-acting".
After several re-enactments of Disney's clash with Michael Powell, the eventual winners were on-again-off-again couple Christian Smith and Chris Simm. Simm played the part of Disney whilst Smith portrayed Powell, sellotaping a toupee to his forehead in order to achieve full quiff-mimicry. Simm reacted to the heavy breathing of Smith by falling the floor with a wry grin on his face, and ended up on his back like a upturned turtle in distress. Smith then pulled off a magnificent "quick-change", in order to also play the part of the referee, brandishing himself (returning to the Powell role) a straight red. Chairman Sir Chris of Pilsbury whooped with laughter as he wagged his finger, declaring "this pair will go far".
Other noteworthy attempts included Wes Baynes and Liam Brownhill, but this was adjudged "unrealistic" as Brownhill genuinely punched Baynes in the face, as revenge for Baynes cheating in a recent game of Monopoly, continuing the pair's ongoing board-game feud.
Iain Howard was unable to pull off the Christian Smith-esque quick-change during his and Michael Wilde's piece, the rhythm of the whole thing spoilt by Howard dashing across to the Royal Mail sorting office to change into a referee's uniform midway through. By the time he returned, Wilde had given up and Matty McGinn and Scary Alex Brown were in full flow, with many unable to watch Brown's horrifying interpretation of events.
Michael Powell sat the challenge out, explaining that it was "too soon".
Contracted players were then rumoured to have waved their contracts in the air, in the manner that away fans at Anfield wave £5 notes at the Kop, in response to reports that The Vics lost their manager because they didn't offer him a contract. However, seasoned observers have suggested Preece's departure was actually due to his being offered more money and a free go on the Beluga.
The laughter turned raucous towards the end of the evening when a short theatrical performance from the back four, ripping on Tom Field's ineligible contract, was met with a mid-laughter snort from Gary Jones, which always seems to make things funnier. Some cocky youth team players, whose names you sometimes see in a Dark Owl Tweet, impersonated the snort as things turned plain ridiculous.
As the night drew to a close, news filtered through to Neil Young that the title contenders have now been locked out of their ground, but the manager declared "actually, that's not all that funny" and that he would "happy slap" anyone who dared to poke fun.