Chester FC: Craig Mahon eyes strong start to new campaign after fixture release

Published date: 05 July 2017 |
Published by: Charlie Croasdale
Read more articles by Charlie Croasdale

Craig Mahon 

CRAIG MAHON believes a fast start is key to Chester’s hopes for the upcoming season.

Jon McCarthy’s side begin the 2017/18 campaign away at Solihull Moors on Saturday, August 5, before back-to-back home fixtures against Dave Challinor’s newly-promoted AFC Fylde and Halifax on August 8 and 12.

A long trip to Hartlepool follows on Tuesday, August 15, before a home clash with Sutton United on August 19.

The eagerly aniticipated cross-border derby clashes against Wrexham are scheduled for November 11 (home) and March 10 (away) while the Blues face will face Guiseley on Boxing Day (home) and New Year’s Day (away).

Winger Mahon, Chester’s longest serving player, believes the Blues could ‘really do something’ this season and feels a seventh-placed finish in the expanded play-off positions is not beyond McCarthy’s new-look outfit.

“The gaffer always seems to bring in a bigger and better squad and all credit to him, and all the staff, for bringing the quality of players into the club,” said Mahon, who is just nine games away from George Horan’s club record 159 appearances since the Blues reformed in 2010.

“It’s exciting now, the season is only a few weeks away. It’s exciting because you look at the squad we’ve got and I think we could definitely do something this year.

“We’ve got to make a good start, that’s key each season. We don’t want to be playing catch up, so getting the home form going early on is crucial to our chances.

“In fairness, we made a bright start last season, we went on the amazing run and we were in seventh position going into Christmas.

“Seventh is a play-off position now, so with the lads we’ve brought in we’ve got an opportunity to be more consistent week by week and hopefully  stay injury free and we could really do something good here.”

Mahon, who is set to embark on his fifth campaign at the Deva, believes this is the strongest squad assembled since his arrival from Vauxhall Motors, although stressed Steve Burr’s 2014/15 side would push them close.

“I wouldn’t want to cause any disrespect to any of the players I’ve played with here because we’ve had some fantastic teams,” the 28-year-old continued, with fixtures against Tranmere Rovers set for October 7 (away) and April 7 (home).

“I’ve enjoyed every season at Chester, whether that’s been FA Cup runs, fighting to stay in the league, there’s always something to play for!

“This squad, the gaffer has really stepped it up a gear. The fans see the likes of Ross and Kingsley coming back in, they’re getting excited and it’s great to play with those boys again.

“They’ve done their homework and brought in some really talented lads but also really nice lads as well, which is great because when you’re around the club as often as we are, you become like a family and you can’t ask for more than nice lads to work with day-in-day-out.

“We’re not just in this league to make up the numbers, we’re moving in the right direction.

“We’re here to take part and give the fans the best we can, right from that first game of the season.”

Last season was a wretched one for Mahon on the injury front, suffering a serious hip injury which he managed as best he could, making fleeting appearances off the bench before finally accepting his season was over in March.

Having initially sustained the injury away at Macclesfield back in October, the winger revealed the past fortnight of training has been his first ‘pain free’ weeks in nearly 10 months.

“I came in, had a chat with the gaffer and Kath (Hopwood, physiotherapist) and I eased myself in for that first week, going to the pool and gym after training just to make sure there was no reaction,” he added.

“On Monday, I did more in the pool and there was no reaction, so I was back on the pitch on Tuesday with the lads, kicking, running, passing, and still no reaction so it’s been a positive couple of weeks.

“It’s the first pain-free week or two I’ve had since Macclesfield away last October. That is when the first pain I got when playing was, I went to hospital the day after because I was in that much pain and each game between then and March I was in pain.

“So to be able to kick a ball and not have to worry about excruciating pain or taking pain-killers, it’s a nice feeling and I’m looking forward to it.

“I want to be back playing, I’ve missed it so much. I’ve watched the boys for four or five months and not being able to help them has been frustrating, but times like that make you appreciate how lucky you are to call this a job so I am very grateful.”

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