Friday, 31 August 2012
Solihull - which has both a name and a physical appearance like someone has mixed up soil and dropped it on top of Hull - formerly played host to Solihull Borough FC before that team merged with Moor Green to create Chester's opponents for tomorrow, Solihull Moors.
The Moors have included Trinidad and Tobago striker Stern John in their squad at times this season, leaving CFC's leading journalists hoping that the former Birmingham man turns features tomorrow.
"Think of the headlines," dreamed a faraway Chronicle pen-twiddler The Tall Peacock. "'Chester given Stern test' or 'Stern test for Neil Young'..."
"Ooh, what about 'Stern test for the Blues'?!"
Chester fans are currently feeling twitchy as rumours abound that star striker Ben Mills may sign for Wrexham before the transfer deadline. Whilst this seems a slightly far-fetched idea, it still holds more credibility than Seals Podcast desk-monkey Dan Burns's recent claim that he knows who the Jestrian is.
With Solihull Moors FC having been born in 2007, the combined age of the clubs involved in tomorrow's match is just eight years, and club historian Jazz Drummer was quick to point out the significance of that number.
"Did you know that if you lined up all the yellow cards Michael Powell has gotten in his career and counted them one by one, it would take you eight years?", chattered Drummer. "Also, if you added together all the fines his clubs have had to pay for those yellows, you'd be able to feed a family of five for eight years."
Blues manager Neil Young faces a welcome dilemma as to who to select in his starting XI, having utilised 16 players over a successful Bank Holiday weekend.
"Might keep switching it up, to be honest, keep it fresh," mused Young. "Got a mate driving trains for me at Merseyrail, who's pretty handy when we play five-a-side. Might throw him into the mix. Or maybe Adam Proudlock."
Thursday, 30 August 2012
"The exciting bit about a book like this is that you don't have to know any facts," enthused The Jestrian at a hastily-convened press conference. "None of the questions have any answers. It's all rhetorical. That way, you can claim intellectual superiority just by reading the book and nodding along, instead of having to contribute anything of your own."
"It's a bit like the blog in that respect."
The contents of the Rhetorical Quiz Book are being closely guarded, but some of the questions have been leaked, so as to whet the appetite of the general public.
The teasers range from ones with current relevance (e.g. "when there's been a fight at a football match, shouldn't we just condemn the behaviour of all involved, rather than trying to establish who started it?") to ones of a more general nature ("isn't it about time that we stop harking back to jibes about 'fools' and 'bingo halls', and start trying to win football matches in order to please ourselves, rather than to stick it to a former owner?")
Historical questions are also included, ("Dude, how over-rated was Sealand Road?") as well as a sarcastic section. ("Wow, Neil Young is well out of his depth, isn't he?")
"It's appropriate to bring a book like this out, as rhetorical questions follow CFC around," continued The Jestrian.
"People have been asking for months now why we're persisting with a club website that's clearly not fit for purpose. And there's no answer to that.
"That's the spirit we're trying to capture, here."
You will be able to purchase the book, in person, direct from The Jestrian. Which raises a whole bunch of questions, in itself.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
New caterers Chester Races have faced criticism of the food on offer inside the Exacta this season and, whilst it is correct that a casserole wearing a pastry hat does not constitute a pie, the fact that this has become the number one point of contention for fans is a cause for concern.
"I don't know what's happened to me," admitted Carlton Pincushion, West Stand regular.
"Remember back in the day, when the players weren't getting paid? That was pretty outrageous - had some right good debates about that. Now I'm logging on to Deva Chat furiously offering pie recipes. It's like I've lost all perspective in life."
Meanwhile, unable to find anything to moan about on the pitch, some fans have taken to the internet to insult stadium announcer and all round nice guy Cleggy.
"I've taken to hanging round outside the stadium, smashing the bulbs out of any car with its lights left on, just so that I don't have to hear Cleggy make extra announcements," said one fan who clearly needs some real problems in life.
The situation could spiral out of control, says Professor Harry Riverbanks from The Royal Institute of Things That Actually Matter in Hemel Hempstead.
"I first noticed a problem when Blues fans started mithering about the fact that they didn't get to vote on what colour the players' socks would be this season," commented Prof Riverbanks,
"If things continue on this trajectory then, by 2015, there will be complaints about the brand of window sealant used at the ticket office, or about the stitching of the stewards' coats.
"You can't start kicking off about every minor annoyance in life. Otherwise, I'd have freaked out by now about the sheer number of people who seem to think it's acceptable to use the phrase 'Om Nom Nom', or the fact that I've still no idea what the Scroll Lock button on my computer keyboard does."
Meanwhile, the culture of lamenting the trivial has crept into the dressing room, where manager Neil Young is allegedly threatening to not travel to Solihull at the weekend unless he is allowed a bigger whiteboard in his office at the Exacta.
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
The Bay fixture was overshadowed by a bizarre Twitter conflict between the apparently 40-year-old Frank Sinclair and some Chester fans who seem to be very angry with life. Much of the offending content has now been removed, and it's probably best for the world if we all act like it never happened.
The game itself was a fairly scratchy affair. Nathan Jarman gave Chester the lead, at which point the Blues walked off the pitch, believing their job to be done.
"After the first two games ended 1-0, they'd got it into their head that we've been playing the golden goal rule this year," explained Neil Young, manager.
"I raced into the dressing room to retrieve them, but by the time I'd got them back on the pitch, Kevin Holsgrove had raced up the other end and scored for The Seagulls."
Ben Mills headed home a Matty McGinn cross midway through the second half to give Chester the 2-1 win, whilst substitute Michael Powell picked up a booking.
"Just giving the fans what they want," grinned Powell. "Getting a yellow is like my own physical version of a catchphrase. It's just an inside joke that rewards regular supporters. The occasional visitor doesn't get it, but you see all the loyal attendees give each other a little nod and a wink when it happens."
On the pitch, Chester got off to a flying start, as Ben Mills banged home another two goals, celebrating by plagiarising British athlete Mo Farah's "mobot" dance.
"We were hoping to sign Ben, but we can't handle the legal costs if he gets sued," said a worried Neil Young.
Having only conceded one in the previous three games, Chester then contrived to lose their lead as Alty scored two excellent goals, one either side of the half time interval.
It was left to Michael Powell to restore Chester's advantage, the stand-in skipper staying cool under pressure to slot home. In celebration, Powell was unable to perform the mobot as his quiff prevents him from getting his hands anywhere near his head.
Matty McGinn sealed the three points for the Blues, rocketing a long range hit past Stuart Coburn to prove that he's still prolific from left back.
"He's basically Chester's Steph Houghton," said someone who watched Team GB in the women's Olympic football.
Chester's next game is away at Solihull, which isn't a place you'd go under any other circumstances.
Friday, 24 August 2012
"Last year, the aim was 100 goals and 100 points and we smashed it, basically," hiccuped the Blues boss.
"This year, we're going a little more arty. A little more subtle. 46 games. 46 wins. 46 goals. Can you feel it?"
Indeed, Young's plan of winning every game 1-0 has started well, as his team has recorded that very scoreline in each of their opening two games. Colwyn Bay provide the next test of their former manager's minimalist approach.
"We know all about Neil and his crazy schemes," admitted Bay chairman Bobby Potato. "At Llanelian Road, he insisted that the players weren't allowed to score in the six yard box unless it was a header or volley. Keeps the lads interested I guess, and you can't argue with his record."
The Seagulls have also won their first two games and boast former Blues Chris Sanna and Rob Hopley amongst their number, as well as former Premier League defender and own-goal machine Frank Sinclair.
"The plan is to get the ball out wide, and for the wingers to hit Sinclair with their crosses," revealed Neil Young.
"Sooner or later he'll bullet one past his own keeper - he can't help himself."
Bank Holiday Monday sees Chester make the trip to Altrincham FC - a club famous for sounding like it has a g in its name, even though it doesn't.
Former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting is a major shareholder of the club, and this is a fact that definitely sounds like it was made up by someone who knew that no-one would bother checking if it was true.
Wikipedia also states that in 2003, Alty won the Antony Worrall Thompson Trophy - an achievement that seems even more unlikely than the Ricky Ponting story.
Young is expected to rotate the squad to keep players fresh, with two games in three days bound to take its toll on his part-time players. This is likely to lead to Sean Clancy being given a chance to prove his worth and Michael Powell being let loose in search of his first yellow card of the season.
Thursday, 23 August 2012
Once upon a time, there was a man named Mr CFC. He was a nice young man and, one day, he and his friends needed to cross a river in a boat. Instead of building his own boat and learning how to row, he understandably enlisted the help of an enthusiastic young rower named Mr Pitchero.
Mr Pitchero began the journey, rowing effectively, if not entirely smoothly. Sometimes he would apparently ignore Mr CFC's requests to slow down or change course, which infuriated Mr CFC and his friends. In spite of this, he was largely functional, and did Mr CFC and co well for the first bit of their journey.
Then, one stormy afternoon, Mr FLi turned up and asked Mr CFC whether he would like to hop aboard his ship instead. It was, after all, much larger than Mr Pitchero's boat and there were lots of other passengers on board and lots of treasure too. Mr CFC, jumped at the chance, especially once Mr FLi had offered some of his treasure.
"I'll give you some booty, if your friends will work for me for free," growled Mr FLi. "Then we'll take the fruits of their labour and we'll sell them for more treasure, and I'll even let you have some of that, too."
In the face of such a generous offer, Mr CFC looked past the fact that Mr FLi's ship had for ten years been an horrendous, un-navigable eyesore that no ship-lover would be caught dead on. There were stickers and graffiti all over the place, and none of Mr CFC's friends could find anything they needed on board.
In time, Mr FLi had his ship renovated. The designers introduced some bizarre new bells and whistles, whilst leaving most of the clutter. Mr CFC started to find in his cabin, items and photographs belonging to other passengers, as the decorators had managed to muddle up everyone's possessions.
"We're all in the same boat, us and the other passengers," cried Mr CFC to his friends by way of defence. It was, however, a feeble defence, for Mr CFC had chosen to board this particular boat in the first place.
All along, sailing way out in the distance, was Captain Mansley. A man who had been sailing long before Mr CFC was even born. A sailor who had, for years, been carrying out a stirling job. A sailor who would have happily had Mr CFC and friends on board, and made no demands whatsoever. His boat was lovely. Basic, perhaps, but clean and tidy and did its job perfectly.
Mr CFC's friends looked wistfully at the horizon, where Capt. Mansley's boat cut a beautiful silouette. If only Mr CFC would just think about the sailing, they could have been on it. Unfortunately, for them, it had all become about the treasure. The gold chains and shiny coins that Mr FLi could offer.
"Oh for a comfortable ship! Disregard the riches, and give me a ship that works!", one cried.
But it was too late.
Chester continued their assault on the top spot of the Blue Square North last night by steamrollering Workington AFC in a 1-0 drubbing at a brimming Exacta Stadium.
The first two games of the season have picked up where the Blues left off last term - Chester keeping clean sheets, winning home and away. Manager Neil Young has made one slight adjustment, however.
"We thought that this year, we'd have a go at playing some football," revealed Young. "It's working pretty well."
Despite this, The Blues Supremo was also quick to point out that the physical punt-it-long approach which made an appearance all too regularly over the past two seasons was never his intention.
"I asked the lads to play balls in the channel, but something got lost in translation and they thought I meant the English Channel. They were trying to boot the ball halfway to Calais, but I never clocked on. Got it sorted now though, ta."
It looked for a long time, last night, as though Chester wouldn't get their goal; their forwards failing to finish a number of good chances.
"The players work hard at spraying shots into the crowd by driving the ball at the heads unwitting spectators in the build-up to the game," commented Young. "It's a skill."
The goal did finally come, following a gorgeous passage of play, in which Wes Baynes produced a phenomenal cross-field pass for Nathan Jarman, who laid the ball back for substitute Ben Mills whereupon the former Stafford striker finished in style. Amongst the celebrations, one fan was seen on the phone to his solicitor.
"I wanted to know if there was any legal way in which I could marry that goal," explained West Stander Colin Grapplehook.
With Workington unable to produce an equaliser, Chester collected three more points, to give themselves the maximum six from their first two games.
"This start to the season shows a flagrant disregard for the football club's traditions," commented club historian Jazz Drummer. "Chester do not start seasons well, and this is exactly why people refuse to equate us with the old Chester City. Hopefully Young can learn from this and ensure that we are underwhelmed from day one again next season."
Colwyn Bay are the next visitors to the Exacta Stadium, on Saturday. So do enjoy that.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
The prices for the game have been slashed to reflect the prices at the first ever game at the Deva Stadium twenty years ago. A potentially controversial move, this has gone down well with Chester fans as they're all very grown up and not at all wildly hysterical.
Other ways in which the club intend to commemorate 1992 include a big screen showing of Denmark biffing Germany in the final of the Euros in and a sing-along of the song that was number one when the first match took place at the Deva - Snap's "Rhythm Is A Dancer".
"We've been training hard for that bit," enthused manager Neil Young. "It's gonna be Off. The. Chain."
Meanwhile, in order to mark twenty years since the opening of Disneyland Paris, Mickey Mouse clubs such as Wrexham and Chorley will be invited to attend the match.
Queen Elizabeth famously referred to 1992 as having been an annus horribilis (horrible year), lamenting the separation of the Duke and Duchess of York, the November fire at Windsor Castle and a disappointing 3-0 home defeat for the Blues against Stockport in mid September.
Neil Young will be hoping that Workington use the match replicate their past twenty years by doing nothing of note though, when quizzed on the game, appeared to be confused.
"Yeah, I have been working tonnes recently, why do you ask?", queried a befuddled Chester boss.
Workington were managed by Famous Bill Shankly in the fifties, before he went on to manage Liverpool. Other links with the Merseyside club include their mutual nickname of "The Reds" and the fact that neither side has a hope of winning the Premier League this season.
Replica home shirts will finally be on sale after the game. About a month after.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
"It just gives each occasion a bit more of a build-up," explains Young. "Gets everyone excited for the event ahead."
Accordingly, Young has demanded that Chester's first home game of the season should incorporate a hootenanny, leading to speculation as to what the Merseyrail Hardnut has in store.
"Obviously we won't get the Queen sky-diving, but we shouldn't rule out the possibility of the Duke of Westminster doing a kick flip on a skateboard," speculates cultural commentator and Chronicle quill-chap The Tall Peacock.
Young is reportedly keen on having the teams do a parade as part of the show, but this has hit a roadblock as no-one knows where to source a giant Workington AFC flag.
The opening ceremony will be accompanied by the unveiling of a giant sculpture of Michael Powell's fringe in the car park.
"In reality, we're just getting the Llandudno Snowboard Centre to set up their dry ski slope outside the Blues Bar," confirms Young.
Much like the Olympics opening ceremony, it is expected that the climactic moment will be carried out not by legends of the club, but by some kids who might play for the club one day, maybe.
"It sends out the wholesome message that achievement doesn't count for anything, and that the possibility of future achievement is paramount," explains cultural commentator and Chronicle lady-magnet Sharks Prowling.
"It's the same logic by which England are always building for the next major tournament rather than trying to win the one they're actually in."
The ceremony will begin at 12 o'clock and there will be live audio commentary by Blues Live, available for a hefty sum.
Monday, 20 August 2012
"It's actually only two years for me," explained superfan Gerry Slingshot. "At Warrington a couple of seasons back, I bought a pie, and they gave me a quid too much in the change. Winner."
In a surprise move, Levi Mackin was given the nod to start at left-back amidst concerns that the extreme humidity in Oxford might serve to make Sean Clancy's hair look silly.
Meanwhile, Iain Howard started on the left wing, having now seen off the challenges of 236 alternative left-sided options that Young has brought in over the last two and a half years.
"I like to keep Iain on his toes by making sure that at any given time, there's three new left wingers hanging around the club - we've had Matty McGinn, Jerome Wright, Luke Holden, Stefan Cox, Sean Clancy... works a treat," elaborated the Blues Supremo.
Howard continued to prove his class by rifling home the first and only goal of the game within the second minute. The midfielder, who appears to be aging backwards, bashed the ball into the net following good work by David Hankin.
Chester passed the ball around nicely, and at one point must have strung together three or four passes - something which left manager Young incapacitated for large sections of the second half.
"He's in a newly promoted team and playing some decent footy - LFC tend to value that in excess of twenty mill. I've asked Sarce about it though, and he's not ready for another backwards step at this point in his career. Wants to play Champions League one day, like."
Other chances fell for both sides, but neither team could make them count, unable to swing a leg hard enough through the thick, sickly air. An injury time opportunity for Iain Howard went begging, as he slipped on some surface-sweat on the pitch, slicing his shot against the post.
Neil Young was understandably delighted with the win, but did confirm that training would be taking place in a sauna on Wednesday, in order to help the team better cope with such muggy conditions should they arise again.
"We'll also be playing heads and volls in a walk-in freezer if we ever have to go away to Kendal again," nodded Young, sagely.
Meanwhile, Chester took a few fans, who all patted each other on the back for being there.
Friday, 17 August 2012
The City won promotion to the Blue Square North last season by winning the Southern League Play-Offs. This is a nonsensical statement, and yet somehow it manages to be true.
"If a team from the South plays in the North and no-one bothers to go to their away games, are they still from the South?" mused philosophy student Jacques Penser, who we interviewed for no good reason.
Chester chief Neil Young has managed to add striker Ben Mills to his squad, but admits the move almost broke down when Mills suspected foul play.
"He thought we were playing a prank on him, trying to make him drive to some team down the wrong end of the country," chuckled Young. "To be honest, none of us are absolutely sure that it's not one big practical joke by league officials, but we'll pop along anyway - see what's what."
Oxford United fans have been spotted online sneering at the idea of the Blues taking a substantial following to their neighbours' gaff, and this mirth is perhaps based on the poor Chester away followings taken to the Kassam Stadium in years gone by. However, these fans should perhaps take into account that Chester have since undergone a revival and - more importantly - remember that you have to re-mortgage your house to get in at the Kassam, and not everyone has a house.
Neil Young will be hoping that Chester can record their first points of the season quickly, knowing full well that defeat will lead to accusations of the Blues boss being out of his depth.
"Boy am I looking forward to that annual ritual," enthused The Blue Supremo.
The start of the season has been overshadowed by the ongoing fiasco over the decision to slash prices for the home clash with Workington AFC. Season Ticket Holders were initially offered five pounds off Chester's new home shirt but complained that they wanted something they could take advantage of sooner than that. As such, when it comes time to renew their Season Ticket twelve months from now, they will be offered an early bird discount.
"Upon reflection, we thought it was fairer to ask the fans to wait twelve months and pick up the early bird offer rather than expecting them to wait six years for the new shirts to be delivered," said CFU media consort Jaffa Cakes.
When quizzed on the continued absence of the replica shirts, Cakes mumbled something about a puma having eaten them, following an administrative error.
Kick off is at 3pm, with Michael Powell's first booking of the season scheduled shortly after.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
The revised pricing structure will be put in place in order to celebrate twenty years at the Deva Stadium, but some Season Ticket Holders have thrown hissy fits over the scheme as now their ticket is slightly not as good value for money as it was when they bought it.
Many Blues who proffer to have bought their Season Ticket out of a love of the club have expressed anger that the The City Fans United board are now looking to recruit fans without also giving their existing fans a treat.
"It's like when you buy your daughter a present for her birthday and then your son gets all stroppy and you have to buy him an ice lolly to pacify him," commented Harry Mac stalwart and father-of-two Tom Helterskelter.
"Except for, y' know, the fact that in this case the participants aren't all four-year-olds who don't know any better."
The five pounds that non-Season Ticket Holders will save was initially offered to Season Ticket Holders as a discount from the club shop off any purchases of £30 or more.
"It's not good enough!" raged one Deva Chatter. "I know I said that I bought the season pass because I love the club, but the truth is, I'm a bit tight. The fact that I'm technically now paying 24p more per game is unacceptable, yeah? I've now gotta pay thirty quid to get my fiver back - what am I supposed to buy? A shirt?!"
Having listened to this hysteria, The City Fans United board issued a statement which read;
"Fine! Have some money off next year's season ticket then, but this is only because we love you."
By this point, The Disgruntled Season Ticket Collective were in full flow, picketing the Exacta Stadium.
"An Early Bird discount?!" roared one protester. "I want my reward NOW!!!"
The board, pushed to the wall, published a further public statement reading;
"Look, we're sorry for all this. We thought that existing fans would back the move to attract new fans to Chester FC. We proceeded on the basis that any grown adult would understand that, sometimes, established customers are given benefits and, sometimes, potential customers need inducements. We made a misjudgment on that, and issue an unreserved apology to all involved."
Meanwhile, a whole group of other fans have criticised the move to celebrate twenty years at the Deva on principle alone.
"I don't want to celebrate being at The Deva because The Deva's not as good as Sealand Road used to be," nodded one tiresome oldie. "There's nothing potentially infectious falling all around you at the Deva. Sealand Road, you always had that risk of getting rust in your eye, which just added to the atmosphere."
In other news, Ben Mills has signed for Chester. Mills shot to fame on the third series of X Factor and will add to Neil Young's strikeforce, bringing pace and flair to the table along with his piano.
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Chester shot into the lead as young striker Reece Norton slyly crouched down in front of an unsuspecting Conwy goalkeeper who, failing to see him, belted the ball at the forward before watching it loop into the vacant net.
"Classic," cackled Norton, made up with his slick practical joke.
Meanwhile Chronicle ink-twirler The Tall Peacock was announcing via Twitter that, as well as the emerging Norton, manager Neil Young was looking at bringing in a striker from outside, but that this player would first require a work permit.
"A work permit for a semi-pro?!", scoffed fan Frinton Tincan, pouring light on the fact that it's far more likely that the player in question is waiting on his P45 or something.
Martin Fearon saved a first half Conwy penalty to stop the hosts pulling level. In spite of this, it is still unclear whether Fearon is to be Chester's second choice goalkeeper or whether he has merely replaced Adam Judge as third choice shot-stopper behind John Danby and "whoever we can get on loan at short notice".
The Blues took until midway through the second half to double their advantage, when Dave Hankin slotted home from a Marc Williams pass. Hankin has impressed with his stylish play on the pitch and also by keeping his Twitter profile private so that the Many Sherlocks of Devachat are unable to draw wild conclusions from disparate messages sent to his friends.
Iain Howard completed the scoring from the penalty spot, after usual spot-kicker Matty McGinn had gone off with a groin injury.
"These pre-season games are all about wearing the players out, so that we run headlong into the season with a skeleton squad," revealed Young.
Young now hopes that his side are ready for their first game in the Blue Square North, away at Oxford City.
"It'll be nice for the Exiles this one, as we all know how impossible it is for them to make it anywhere above Birmingham," mused Young.
"Of course, for the rest of us, it's a right pain-in-the-train. Blue Square NORTH, yeah? Clue is in the question, geniuses. Jog on, Oxford."
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Most Blues fans appear to be happy with the likely starting XI, with concerns mostly surrounding the lack of back-up strikers and attacking midfielders.
"We figured that out after the first friendly, so I've no idea what we've been trying to learn from the subsequent 300," mused Harry Mac regular Gordon Tracksuit.
Other fans have moved to defend Young, pointing out that the manager has been embroiled in a perpetual cycle of pre-season matches and hasn't had an hour in between them to actually go and sign anyone.
"There've been... so many... games...", gasped an unshaven and sleep-deprived Young.
"Honestly, I've not seen a train in weeks. I don't even know if I'm still employed by Merseyrail. Every waking hour, there's a Chester friendly. We're more full time than a full time club. What's going on?"
Conwy Borough FC play in the Cymru Alliance league, but The Musselmen often struggle to fill their Y Morfa stadium, as Conwy has a totally boss castle where people prefer to go on a weekend.
"It's got turrets and arrow slits and stuff," beamed one boastful local.
Indeed, CFU media piranha Jiff Bricks had suggested the game should take on a competetive edge, with the winner taking ownership of the other's castle. Chester City Council proved unhelpful with this plan, however, informing the club that they would not support their proposed gambling of Chester Walls on a third rate football match.
"Come back to us if you play Caernarfon though, and we might be tempted," offered one Council representative.
Meanwhile, the new home shirts which were definitely going to be on sale tomorrow, aren't going to be on sale tomorrow. They're so retro, you can't even get them any more.
Monday, 13 August 2012
The match pulled another sub-700 crowd - a surprising revelation that a long line of home exhibition games against uninspiring opposition don't so much build excitement for the coming season as exhaust fans before it's even begun. The attendance of 693 meant that more people watched the game unfold on The Tall Peacock's Twitter feed than followed it with their own eyes, with the Chronicle pen-genius's follower count having now topped 800.
"Even I thought about giving this one the old Youngy Swerve," admitted manager Neil Young. "There's been loads of games, and if you put all the crowd in the East Stand, they can't see the bench well enough to notice I'm not there. Unfortunately, I got caught out 'cos I was at the Beer Festival and Pet Husky [CFC CEO] saw me at the bar before the game and started asking me questions about the game. Then he asked if I was coming in. Had to go along with it."
Bangor took the lead just after the half-hour mark, Chris Jones slotting home following a penalty box melée that resembled seals having a tea party.
Marc Williams hit back almost instantly, before his strike partner Nathan Jarman gave Chester the advantage. The front two have been electrifying in recent games but, as they aren't Chris Simm, no-one is convinced just yet.
A second half saw chances come and go, before David Morley slotted a late equaliser home for the visitors, leaving Blues fans hurriedly trying to establish whether this is one of those friendlies where there's a trophy involved.
"Oh, I'm not going to have to sit through penalties, am I?" rang out one voice, through the silence that met the goal.
Meanwhile, some frightening hooligans put their feet on the Exacta seats in protest at Chester's lapse, and stewards called for back-up.
An apparently innocuous game, the match has had more of an impact that was initially thought. New groundsman, Not Gary Kent, has confirmed that the pitch will now be unplayable for the coming season, having already had a season-and-a-half's worth of play on it in the past few weeks.
"Probably best to trying to book County Offices or something," advised Not Kent.
Chester have one more friendly, away at Conwy tomorrow evening. There is nothing interesting about this.
Friday, 10 August 2012
Following his release at the end of last season, Simm signed for Bangor City, explaining that his decision was based largely on his love of bangers and mash.
"The words sound the same, so I thought I'd like probably playing here," grinned Simm.
Simm had a mixed season last term but, since his departure, Blues fans have heralded his contribution as “one of the best since Rimmer in the 87-88 season”, whilst spectators have been spotted tutting aggressively each time ex-Football League striker Adam Proudlock touches the ball. Devachat is certain to crash under sheer weight of traffic should Simm net tomorrow.
"Look, it's the Chester way to campaign aggressively for the reinstatement of players who have moved on," explained super-fan Martin Crashmat - a driving force behind such movements as 'Bring Back Bradley Barnes' and 'Justice for the Judge'.
"I've lost count of the number of placards I've made for former players, whilst refusing to give new arrivals a chance."
Alongside Simm in the Bangor squad is likely to be full-back Liam Brownhill. Brownhill made some major contributions to Chester's title-winning campaign last year - most notably, scoring a goal against one of the hundred Ashton teams in that league, and getting his face in that photograph of Matty McGinn ramping home the goal that secured the championship for the Blues against Northwich Vics.
"Brownhill landed himself in Chester folklore that day," recounts club historian Jazz Drummer. "He skilfully weaved his way into shot, wearing a bizarre facial expression, just as Matty thumped the ball in the net. That was something that he brought to the team that Wes Baynes just couldn't emulate."
"Liam's unlucky that fans aren't calling for his return," continues Drummer. "The only reason for this is that we still have two full backs from last season. If we'd got rid of them all and signed the Da Silva twins from Man U, you can bet your bottom dollar there'd be some 'We want our Brownhill back' banners hanging in West Stand."
The game takes place on the second day of a three day Real Ale Festival that is being held at the Exacta after CFU media-king and chief plane botherer, Jiff Bricks, got his RAFs mixed up. Former director The Dark Owl is expected to maybe pop his head in on the match between pints, whilst Neil Young will pace the touchline nursing a cheeky pale ale and humming his favourite The Suns tracks.
Thursday, 9 August 2012
The incident has caused Chester FC to assess its own parody culture, which has begun to spiral out of control.
Devachat remains a parody of itself, The Seals Podcast is a left-field send-up of The Blue Moon Podcast whilst even The Jestrian has its own imitator.
The cleverly-named The Cestrian - written by a mysterious man known only as "Rob Ashcroft" - models its reporting style on The Jestrian, but injects humour into proceedings by quoting things that Blues fans have actually said.
The publication also plays practical jokes, such as offering fans the opportunity of sponsoring kitman Jimmy Soul - although this did finally answer the philosophical question of "what price can one put on a Soul?"
Anonymity is a tool used by many, from street artist Banksy, to Top Gear's The Stig, to Sunderland's starting XI. Despite its popularity however, some Blues fans remain angry at the concept.
"Unless you're willing to be punched in the face for your opinion, it doesn't count," said one Devachat poster.
"We need to know who is saying what so that we can assault them if we disagree. Brute force and intimidation should always win out over rational thought, and anonymity breaks that natural order by making us deal with the ideas rather than the person. Some of us can't handle that and would rather just pummel anything we don't understand."
With people refusing to name themselves, Neil Young has today bucked the trend by naming his strikeforce for the first game of the season nine days early. Having confirmed that Nathan Jarman and Marc Williams will start up front away at Oxford next Saturday, Young has indicated that he'll publically reveal Chester's full tactics for the match "on Wednesday at some point".
The Blues start their Blue Square North season away at Oxford City on Saturday 18th August.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
No Chester fan actually knows what Fleetwood's first XI looks like,but alarm bells started to ring when it emerged that Joey Barton wouldn't be taking to the pitch.
This went entirely unrecognised by Blues fans until someone checked the Twitter feed of Chronicle word-wizard The Tall Peacock, who had indicated that Fleetwood had made 11 changes to the side that drew 3-3against Tranmere on Saturday, sparking a mini riot in D Block.
"I've paid good money to watch this pre-season friendly and I'm deeply upset that Fleetwood have taken it as an opportunity to try the kids out. They must have a League Cup campaign starting in a couple of weeks - that's the ideal opportunity to give the squad members a chance," moaned Gerald Huffington of Vicar's Cross.
"I was intrigued to see how our triallists would get on, and then Fleetwood go and put out a team of unproven players? Patently unfair."
"I don't LIKE new things!" croaked West Stand stalwart Eldred Dufflebag. "Why do we need new strikers? Malkin and Spink were fine. Why do they have to keep changing it?!"
With time running out, Chester's Sean Clancy struck an equaliser past his former employers. It is widely acknowledged, however, that Clancy will have to score several more goals before it becomes ok that he was part of that Desperate Scousewives monstrosity.
"Scripted 'reality' shows are the worst abuse of the medium of television yet," explained Dr Gertrude Facts from the University of Things That Are Definitely True and Don't Even Try To Argue (Plymouth Campus).
The final whistle eventually came and, honestly, no-one is sure quite what we're supposed to be learning from all these games anymore.
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Chester will tonight continue in their quest to play every club side in the United Kingdom this month with a home friendly against Football League new boys Fleetwood Town And Possibly Joey Barton.
Following his bewildering antics in the final game of 2011/12, Queens Park Rangers' star Barton has joined the Lancashire-based visitors on loan in what some suspect to be a bid to speedily exhaust his twelve game suspension and the potential presence of the right footed philosopher could add hundreds to the attendance.
"This is exactly the sort of game I can get behind," quipped Saturday stayaway Danny Spectacle.
"There's been too many pre-season friendlies this year, and they've all been too expensive. I'm not paying seven pounds to watch some young lads that might one day turn out for a Premier League side, but tonight is different. Seven pounds to watch some League Two journeymen and one bloke who's suspended from the Premier League until near enough Christmas is a bargain."
The suggestion that Chester supporters may wish to pay seven pounds to watch the other team involved - Chester - was quickly dismissed.
Market research expert Deaf Mancs confirmed that the club would consider revising their thinking for future pre-season arrangements.
"We thought these games were about getting out of the house on a Summer afternoon and familiarising supporters with the new faces that will wear the famous blue and white this season, but it turns out we've got it all wrong," coughed Mancs.
"Next year we'll be just be lining up games against teams fielding an ex-con. Everyone's already made up their minds about the new lads based on who they've played for in the past anyway."
In other points of note, Blues new boy Sean Clancy will line up against his former club whilst recent Fleetwood acquisition Alex Titchiner is expected to turn out for the Cod Army. In a recent poll of 'Best-Loved Chester Players Of The Past Two Years', Titchiner finished a respectable 143rd, one place behind Michael Clarke, but well clear of such peers as Scott Barlow, Nick Rogan, and Danny Mahoney.
Neil Young was unavailable for his customary pre-match press call, reportedly researching possible destinations for Michael Powell to spend the second week of September.
Monday, 6 August 2012
Responding to numerous criticisms over pricing of friendly games, visiting clubs treating the Exacta Stadium turf as a makeshift creche and the age-old issue of travelling supporters being too far away to create any tangible sense of rivalry-driven atmosphere, the Blues hierarchy slashed admission costs to a fiver, hosted a credible opposing side and threw everyone in the confines of the main East Stand and were richly rewarded with a sub-600 attendance.
"I told them if they charged less for friendlies, they'd get bigger crowds," bragged Deva Chat poster Disingenuous Blue.
"My objection to the admission prices was never a case of me just trying to save a couple of quid. It was for the good of the club, as you've seen."
In spite of the low admission cost, however, a number of fans did fail to attend, preferring to save their fiver in case they want to buy a sausage roll later in the season.
Those who did flood in through the turnstiles enjoyed a first-half game of "Spot the Entertainment", scouring the pitch for something exciting before giving up and having a look if anything fun was going on in the refreshments stand.
Marc Williams finally got the scoring underway ten minutes after the break, scoring from a Wes Baynes corner.
Marc Williams finally doubled the lead twelve minutes after the break, scoring from a Wes Baynes corner.
Williams slotted home his third right on the final whistle - a goal missed by fans who had left early to beat the rush.
The 3-0 victory gives Chester their first silverware of the season - a trophy which Neil Young insists he treasures as much as the two Evo Stik league trophies, won in his first two years.
"We're only in this game for a finite period of time - any cup you win, you treasure. That's why I've still got my Merseyrail Employee of the Week plaque on my fireplace at home."
Young wore a look of pride as the Blues were presented with the trophy, but Blues captain George Horan had to be called back from the car park to attend the presentation.
"We were playing for a trophy?" enquired a confused skipper as he shuffled onto the pitch in order to spray champagne all over the ten fans who remained behind. Meanwhile, CEO Pet Husky set off one of those streamer cannons we had at the end of last season. On this occasion, the cannon turned out to be a phenomenal spectacle, which will live long in the memory of those who stayed to watch.
Young was later seen in the Legend's Lounge, waving the newly-won shield about and roaring "someone fire an arrow at me, see if I can block it!"
The Blues boss was then unavailable for comment as he and his assistant Gary Jones were called in for a stern reprimand by Carol Bennett after Jones accidentally embedded an bodkin-pointed arrow in the bar.
Friday, 3 August 2012
"Hopefully I can emulate Wildey and Simmo's performances from last season by spending long periods out injured whilst the midfielders and full backs score for fun," says Jarman, earnestly.
At 25, Jarman should be approaching his peak but this should be set against the fact that, outside of football, his other job is one of the more dangerous in the CFC squad. After accidentally eating some out-of-date jam in 2001, Nathan contracted super powers enabling him to open any jar, regardless of how tight that lid is on there.
"I get a tingling sensation whenever someone in the neighbourhood is having trouble getting their lemon curd open," explains the former Grimsby Town man.
"In a flash, I transform into Jar Man, ride round their house on my 7-speed bike and help 'em out. It's tiring some nights, but with great power comes great responsibility to help people enjoy their toast."
Unlike most superheroes, Jar Man does not concern himself with keeping his identity secret.
"I don't think I need to. It's not like I'm fighting hardened criminals or flying round cities like a spider or writing a vaguely provocative blog," muses Jarman.
"I'm just getting into tricky marmalade containers and the odd Nutella. That said, I'm told that I did upset some people at Uncle Ben's because apparently they deliberately ram those lids on so that people give up and buy more... but that can't be true, can it?"
It is thought that the forward, who started his career at Barnsley, first came to Neil Young's attention when he burst in through the window of the Chester manager's mansion in order to help Mrs Young twist the top off a stubborn jar of pickled onions.
"I love my pickled onions and it would have been a catastrophe if the missus couldn't get 'em open, because there's not a 24-hour ASDA round our way," recounts Young.
"Luckily, Nath shows up and pops that jar open good. One pickled onion fell out, but he did a couple of keepy-ups with it before volleying it into the dog's mouth. That's when I knew he was our man. Binned Wildey off immediately after that like."
In spite of his fame off the pitch, Jarman is keen to be recognised as a footballer, first and foremost.
"There's a worry that people will focus on the superhero rather than the striker, but hopefully I can lift the lid on Nathan Jarman the footballer!"
With that pun, everyone present sighed and went home.
Nathan Jarman is available in all good retail outlets.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
The Cestrian - An acutely-written parody of the Jestrian.
The Official Website - Wouldn't bother, mate.
chester-city.co.uk - All the news from the official website, without the option to subscribe to Sky Sports punching you in the eyes every three seconds. Also a great way to keep up with the Exiles darts team.
Twitter - A great way to pretend that you are friends with the players.
The Seals Podcast - A podcast by probable Jestrian Daniel Burns, which begins with the brave artistic move of allowing a primary schooler to recount his "what I did this weekend" homework, before assorted Chronicle journalists make bids for punditry careers.
The Blue and White - A fanzine edited by Rizzle Kicks.
Blues Live - A bit like Blues Live two years ago, except less reliable, less portable and you have to pay.
NATV - A highlights service provided by a committed volunteer, whose work is then ruthlessly hocked for profit.
Chester Chronicle - A collection of men who aspire to be the Jestrian, producing exclusives, interesting interviews and the occasional groundbreaking revelation that Neil Young is keen to win the next match.
The Evening Leader - Just kidding.
Chester Tonight - An easy-to-use cooking sauce.
Dee 106.3 - Tina Turner songs occasionally interrupted by news of an Iain Howard corner.
Radio Merseyside - Coverage reminding Liverpool- or Everton-supporting Cestrians that they have their own team.
Neil Young's Magic Mondays - The Chester manager comandeers the PA system at various Merseyrail stations, using this as a platform to air his thoughts on the weekend just gone, interspersed with his favourite Dubstep Ballads.
Deva Chat - An online messageboard forum containing exclusively level-headed and intelligent debate. Also a great way to keep up with the Exiles darts team.
Famous Colin Murray - Sometimes Famous Colin Murray mentions Chester on his radio show, which gets Chester fans rushing to iPlayer in order to skip to those golden five minutes. Murray is then traditionally thanked for his support on Deva Chat by people who don't bother reciprocating the goodwill by listening to the rest of his show.
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
The Blues were rinsed last night by a Northwich Victoria outfit against whom the Blues secured two draws last season. Wearing Airbus shirts, but still playing distinctly closer to Northwich than the Vics will be this season, Chester's opposition ran out 3-0 winners, despite some Deva Chatters trying to claim a points victory.
Neil Young, meanwhile, was less interested in the football and spent most of the match watching his assistant Gary Jones do impressions of the linesman whilst he wasn't looking.
"He's a talented mimic," giggled Young to the bench, missing Airbus score their second.
It is not the first indicator that the Blues Chief isn't being too serious about his team's preparations for the coming season. Fans were visibly distressed when Dave Hankin took to the field in a kilt against Scottish Premier League outfit Kilmarnock but Young dismissed concerns, retorting that this was “fine by me” and urging fans to “lighten up”.
Young's comments have some credence as there is plenty of evidence to confirm that pre-season is a hoot. Perhaps most notably, there is a written document, locked away in an Exacta Stadium filing cabinet, which suggests that former Chester City boss Keith Curle once fielded backroom staff lieutenant Stuart Bruce-Lee in a friendly. The document recounts Bruce-Lee swivelling and executing a crushing volleyed goal in a comprehensive victory during the club's Cornish tour. Rumours that the goal was set up by Ryan Chuck-Norris were later proven to be an urban myth.
Further evidence that pre-season is a right lark has also been forthcoming, with witness accounts recalling that a man called McSporran once played for CCFC in a pre-season campaign under Mark Wright’s stewardship, and that Cortez Belle once climbed on top of the roof at Connah's Quay Nomads during a period of boredom in a match in order to outrageously aim gobstoppers at the Nomads goalkeeper.
“If you can’t see the funny side of charging someone a fiver for pie then we may as well pack it in,” continued a visibly irritated Young.
“Couldn’t believe they fell for it, to be honest. As a club, we’ve never taken this time of the year seriously, and I’m not about to break that habit.”
Meanwhile, CFU media engine Jaffa Cakes was seen beaming following an elaborate gag played by Blues Live as Chester played host to Aston Villa u12s last Saturday.
“You were all there at home waiting for the broadcast and, BANG, it never came,” grinned Cakes.
“Only at this time of the year, eh?” he added, rolling his eyes.