Senior Blues Members Meeting recap for November 2022, thanks to Les Smith for providing the update!
Chairman Chris Courtenay Williams opened another very well attended meeting by rattling through the AGM and reflecting on our first year since Covid. He paid tribute to those members who had died in the past year with a special mention for Vic Croft our treasurer for the past 11 years and thanked Martin Williams for taking over. Remarkably we had over 50 members for our first meeting after the enforced break and have maintained high attendances ever since. We have had trips to the Liver Buildings, the KGV Hub and The Hidden Garden at Menai. We continue to support the Youth Academy (noting we will be sponsoring their FA Youth Cup tie vs Bradford City) and also now are sponsoring the Chester FC Women’s Team. It was proposed from the floor that the existing committee be retained and agreed by the members present. Job done. Apparently!
Chris also drew the members attention to the poor condition of the chairs in the Boardroom (as discussed at a recent committee meeting). The members agreed by a show of hands that the Senior Blues would provide funds for a replacement set of chairs.
The draw was the carried out to determine the eight members to win places in the Hospitality Package for the Alfreton game on 10th December sponsored by the Senior Blues. The winners were Joan Salt, Dave Pearson, Peter Featherston, Peter Alexander, Sue Pearson, Keith Musson, David Cobden, Bernard Clarke.
Reserve list: Frank Salt, Ann Rutter.(who will go forward to the next Senior Blues sponsored game vs Peterborough Sports). Congratulations to all the winners!
The first Guest speaker was Kate Mylchreest (CFU Board member and Director of Development at Storyhouse). Kate was born in Nottingham, moved to Chester at the age of 2 and grew up here before attending Newcastle University. She then worked in London before moving back to Chester 15 years ago. She has been head of fundraising at the Countess of Chester hospital and also at the newly completed Royal University hospital in Liverpool before moving to work at Storyhouse, a £37 million not for profit facility which opened in 2017.
As well as the theatre, cinema and library facilities there is a Community programme with 128 different groups. Kate manages all fundraising (over £6million to date), stakeholder management and statutory funding. CFU Board member and City Councillor Adam Langan was instrumental in co-opting her on to the CFU Board where her main portfolio is to help sponsorship along with the commercial work of Georgina and Albert. She was glad to see more diversity in what she considered to be a dynamic Board. Responding to a question she said there is a continuing effort to improve awareness of the Club in the city which has been helped by the opening of the KGV. She hopes to grow the profile of the Club and link it to the wider community more. She also referred to the recently produced film “Gate Money, Inside football’s non-league funding fiasco” due to have a special screening at Storyhouse on Nov 20th and which includes a contribution relating to Chester FC from Jim Green. Chris thanked Kate for her efforts which were warmly appreciated by the members.
Our second guest, sports broadcaster and Cestrian Jonathan Legard entertained us with a plethora of stories starting from his early days following Chester, through his transformation from teaching to radio broadcasting, life at the BBC and currently freelance multisport experiences. It is fair to say that the brevity of this report doesn’t do justice to his tour de force. However we learned that he watched his first game and got hooked on Chester City in the 71-72 season. When teaching in Hong Kong many years later, the experience of doing a voice over changed his career path forever.
Around 1985 he returned to Chester and worked as a volunteer at the Countess hospital radio and started reporting on the Blues, with Harry McNally being particularly helpful and encouraging. Without any formal training in journalism, the next move was to cover football on Radio Merseyside where there was a supportive Charlie Lambert. After five years on local radio which included reporting on Hillsborough, Jonathan moved to the BBC in London where he covered Formula 1 and learned from the master that was Murray Walker. With tales of the circuit high life, Michael Schumacher, Jackie Stewart (and Phil Collins!) it was clear that the letters B B and C could get you anywhere. A spell covering football followed, with tales of interviewing Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, the England team hotel at the 2006 World Cup, Sven, and the much admired Terry Butcher. Following that, there was even more flexibility with the Boat Race and its interruption by a lone swimmer, the London Olympics and a first venture into Volleyball. The sports portfolio increased and as a freelance journalist, remote coverage of the Tokyo Olympics from Dockside studios during Covid had its own particular challenges.
Many more unlikely stories involving colleagues’ experiences with Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon and the like followed, along with a lively Q&A. Above all, we learned Jonathan is as passionate about broadcasting and about Chester FC as he ever was, despite his exile in London for 32 years. The Graham Barrow years (as player and manager) were definitely favourites. He was particularly forthright about the Gloucester City tactics last month, a game he managed to attend at the Deva. Sadly the meeting had run into extra time with Jonathan still demonstrating an unflagging ability as a raconteur. His next job, the following day, was at Murrayfield and he had to get back to London first. With guys like him commentating, don’t expect much dead air time even when there is little action on the pitch, court, track, water etc. He even assured me that he writes his own scripts for his voice-overs on the EFL highlights show. Thanks Jonathan, you are always welcome.
Next Meeting. Friday 2nd December. Guest speakers: Chester FC Women’s Manager Martin Fitzsimons, Club Historian, Chas Sumner, and the Boss, Calum McIntyre.