Senior Blues

NEXT MEETING

WHEN? Friday 2nd December at 10.30am

WHERE? Blues Bar, Deva Stadium, CH1 4LT

WHO? Manager Calum McIntyre, Women’s Manager Martin Fitzsimons and Club Historian Chas Sumner

New members are welcome!


Chester FC Senior Blues is a group for older supporters who meet monthly and organise regular social activities.

Formed in 2013, largely through the efforts of the much missed Peter Mitchell and Chairman Chris Courtenay Williams, the Senior Blues meet on the first Friday morning of the month in the Blues Bar from August to May.

New members are very welcome with membership costing only £10 a year..

Meetings start at 10.30am and are well attended with generally between 50 and 70 members present. Tea, coffee and biscuits are served and there is a raffle and merchandise for sale

All monies raised is for the benefit of Chester FC, with the principal focus being the Academy, which has received approximately £20,000 to date.

New members are welcome and all money raised goes to the Senior Blues Youth Foundation.

Photos courtesy of Yasmin Thomas.


LATEST NEWS

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.

Senior Blues Members Meeting recap for October 2022, thanks to Les Smith for providing the update!

The Guest Speaker at a very well attended meeting was Chris Matheson, who at the time was MP for Chester. He spoke about a number of football finance and governance related topics and took questions on a wide range of subjects including transgender participation in sport, the Qatar World Cup, immigration, the cross-border problems with the Deva Stadium, and empty shops in the City centre.

Chairman Chris thanked speaker Chris and after the raffle, and announcements about the November AGM and the Christmas dinner, members arranged themselves into 13 roughly (numerically) equal teams for John Bithell’s Senior Blues Quiz Challenge which comprised 30 questions, skilfully tailored towards those of advancing years, and covering sport, music, films, and other odds and sods from days gone by. There were even questions on the minutiae of Chester FC, surely only known to the anoraks among us. Having said that, the team led by Treasurer Martin Williams (because he had a pen) and which contained 4 other committee members, romped home with a magnificent 29/36 and despite demands for a stewards enquiry were declared the winners. For any other pedant reading this who is having trouble with the maths, there were 6 two-part questions. Thanks John. Next Quiz, March 2023.

Senior Blues Members Meeting recap for 2nd September 2022, thanks to Les Smith for providing the update!

Guest speakers were skipper, George Glendon; Communications Manager and Football Administrator, Albert Davies; Academy Manager and First Team Coach, Mike Allcock.

Chris Courtenay Williams introduced George who talked about his football career including the high spot of being on the bench for Manchester City in European games; the despondency of being left without a club after Bury folded, and being effectively rescued through Bern and Jonno making contact with his dad, who had managed at Radcliffe Borough for over 20yrs. He spoke about his love for Chester and his frustrations at not getting promoted after two Covid interrupted seasons, last season’s poor results and his current ACL injury which will keep him out for most of this season. He answered lots of questions including his opinion on refs, his partnership with Dec Weeks, the current squad, his buying into the Chester model, morning training and the KGV, and footballers’ wages. He had praise for the coaching staff and said his ambition is to get promoted with Chester.

Albert described his new dual role at the Club after starting several years ago on a volunteer basis and dealing mostly with media aspects. Commercial aspects are carried out in conjunction with Georgina (Slawinski) and football business with Calum and Jim (Green). There is a plan to utilise students to assist at the club as part of their educational programme. As well as day to day communications, Albert is responsible for the Club website (which he would very much like to see improved) and the Seals Podcast. In his role as an interviewer Albert was primed to probe our self-effacing Chairman Chris about his football career. It turned out Chris was a childhood friend of Ron Davies, and there his 11-a-side football career ended. Although he played 5-a-side till the age of 75 (and don’t we know it!), he actually uttered the words “I wasn’t good enough for 11-a-side”. Thanks Albert for prising out that gem of information. Thanks Chris for being a good sport.

Mike Allcock told us about his background in teaching, sports journalism and coaching, and some valuable and happy years spent at Hyde United. Contact with Calum led him to Chester as his Academy assistant and also as first team coach in Calum’s management team at Runcorn Linnets. He spoke of a 24 month plan to progress 5-6 youth team players to the 1st team squad. The philosophy of his dual role at Chester is player development in the Academy on Wednesdays (in the National League Alliance) and Sundays (in the North West Youth Alliance), whilst as first team coach the focus is clearly on winning matches. Mike also talked about the 2yr Btec in Sport programme offered to our Scholars, with 24 players in the 17/18yr age group. There is a desire to recruit for the full time programme principally from the current U16 age group which is filled with local talent. This can be supplemented with players released from EFL clubs.

Other Business

The Members agreed to the Senior Blues’ Sponsorship of our home fixture vs Alfreton Town on 10th December. More details later.

Geoff Leith outlined the arrangements for the Christmas meal which will be held after our meeting on Dec 2nd. Payment was requested at the October meeting.

Senior Blues visit to KGV Sports Hub

Around 40 members of the Senior Blues visited the Hub on Friday 26th August during a First team training session.

The visionary that is Jim Green described the project from conception to completion. The 3G pitch is almost fully booked for both Chester FC and Community use, with Sundays being taken up by Chester FC Women and Academy fixtures. In addition, Jim updated us on the redevelopment of the original KGV changing rooms adjacent to the grass pitches, which will also be used as the teaching headquarters for the Scholars programme. Work is also underway in improvement of the pitches which will further extend the use of the KGV.

After a short Q&A, members were given free reign of the facility though no one, not even Chairman Chris, joined the training session. It is impossible not to be impressed by the KGV and certainly, along with the Deva Stadium, must be a major attraction for potential signings. An additional beneficiary is the Deva Stadium pitch (and Mike Barrow) which is now free from the wear and tear of training sessions. Credit should be given to all those involved in its development. It is a tremendous facility that will benefit Chester FC and the City of Chester for many years to come.

Members Meeting Recap: August 5th

Almost 70 members attended the first Senior Blues Meeting of the 2022-23 Season.

Guest speakers were CFU Chairman Kieron Shiel who updated us on the progress made over the summer, including the recruitment of Calum McIntyre as First Team Manager; Georgina Slawinski who explained her role as General Manager and distributed copies of the Chester FC Commercial Brochure. She was followed by Matty Waters who thanked supporters for the financial assistance for his ACL operation through the Chester Former Players Association Just Giving Crowd Funding Appeal.

Matty is being helped in his rehabilitation by the Club and is targeting March 2023 as a return date. Grenville Millington, representing the FPA, asked those present to give generously if they hadn’t already and then proceeded do a brilliant time-filling stand-up routine of stories from between the posts whilst waiting for Calum and Colin Woodthorpe to arrive from training. Colin needed slightly more persuasion to speak than Calum (and Grenville!) but unsurprisingly both received the members full attention and support for the coming season.

On a sad note, after the meeting a number of members attended the funeral of Senior Blues Treasurer Vic Croft. Vic was encouraged onto the Committee by his good friend and true Blue, Peter Mitchell who passed away in May 2021. Vic will also be sadly missed.

Plas Cadnant  – the Hidden Gardens

On Friday 19th August, a 53 seater coach carrying passengers with a combined age probably somewhere in excess of 3600 years set off from the Deva Stadium at 9.30 for Menai Bridge. The owner of Plas Cadnant was most welcoming, the gardens were spectacular, the food in the cafe was superb and the coach driver was particularly skilful in negotiating the steeply descending single track road into the valley. The weather was perfect and a good day was had by all (I think!)

Thanks to Les Smith for providing an update!