Farce at Chester City continues as game called off over lack of players

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Staff reporter

CASH-strapped Chester City look set to survive, despite the club calling off last night’s Conference game and farcical scenes outside the club ground yesterday.

In the latest in a long list of embarrassments for the Deva Stadium club, the match away at Forest Green Rovers had to be postponed hours before the 7.45pm kick-off. The official reason: Chester City could not raise a team.

Nevertheless Football Conference general manager Dennis Strudwick, on learning yesterday afternoon that Chester City were having problems getting to the game, said: “I would not want it to be the death knell for Chester City FC... yet.”

A raft of difficulties began yesterday when a bus driver due to take the players to Gloucestershire refused to budge from the Blues’ Bumpers Lane car park until the club paid the £675 cost of the journey.

That was at 2.30pm and the driver, from Anthony’s Travel based in Runcorn, did not set off until 4.45pm.

Players and officials, but not director of football Morell Maison who was travelling separately, then left to pick up other squad members at the Lord Daresbury Hotel on the M56 near Warrington before rejoining the motorway to make the journey south.

It is believed there were only eight players on the bus so the game was a non-starter.

Former Chester City FC Official Supporters Association chairman Barrie Hipkiss, who now organises away travel for fans, said he arrived at the ground at 2.15pm and told fellow fans he was not prepared in the Jones of Flint bus for the match until the players had left in their executive coach.

In the end a vote was taken and the small party of fans finally made their way home at 4.30pm.

“It’s hard to swallow this,” said Mr Hipkiss who has supported the Blues since 1946 and has missed only 20-off matches in that time.

He said by the time the players finally left Chester travelling fans would have been hard pressed to reach their destination before 8.30pm-9pm.

One angry fan who was ready to board the bus for the match said: “We want answers. The management should have the decency to hold a meeting and let us

know the state the club is in.
“We have been left out in the cold without a clue as to what is going on.”

Another supporter said: “No wonder the fans are boycotting the games.”

Colin Peake, Forest Green Rovers secretary and Press officer, said: “We were prepared for a game tonight.”

The postponement comes as a major blow to City days before their home derby match against Wrexham at noon on Sunday.

An emergency open meeting of the Chester City Exiles is to be held at 7.30pm tomorrow in the Rugby Tavern in Great James Street, London. Exiles committee member David Evans, who is also on the committee of City Fans United, will give an update the club’s affairs and two members of the national Football Supporters Federation have asked to attend the meeting.

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