IT’S a club where ups and downs have been part of their history.

Promotion one season, relegation the next, dropping out of the Football League and then winning the Conference title only to end with extinction six years later. The roller-coaster ride that was Chester City.

Keith Curle was in the front seat for what ultimately proved the big dipper in a nine-month management reign that best summed up the Blues topsy-turvy times.

He took Ian Rush’s job at The Deva after the Liverpool and Wales legend, who had kicked off his career at Sealand Road in the Seventies, had surprised many by taking up Stephen Vaughan’s offer.

In 2004, after Mark Wright had walked out the day before their triumphant Football League return, Rush went on a two-month unbeaten run despite losing to a Paul Gascoigne-inspired Boston United in his first game in charge. But by April he was out.

Curle, cutting his teeth in management at Mansfield Town, also had a 2004 to forget as he was axed by The Stags.

A former top flight footballer, who had made more than 800 career appearances, was looking for a job and got one after impressing in his Blues interview.

And what a start it was too.

“I loved my time at Chester,” said Curle, who will look to added a promotion to his CV when he leads his Northampton Town team into tonight’s League Two play-off final against Matt Taylor’s Exeter City at Wembley.

“We had a good team, great attacking players and we started really well.

“Michael Branch was there and we played together at Wolves so I felt it would be good to make him captain.

“Ryan Lowe was also upfront, we paid £50,000 for Gregg Blundell and had a £50,000 bid for Jon Parkin turned town.

“Every team needs goals, there what the fans want to see.

“We were flying early on and would have gone top if we’d have beaten Rochdale but Blundell got badly injured and we lost 3-2.”

Curle’s run of wins included a double over Peterborough United, managed by ex-Blues boss Wright.

And there was no love lost between the two bosses.

After City had won 1-0 at Posh, Wright said: “I didn’t shake hands with Keith Curle for a simple reason. I don’t respect him.”

Curle took that in his stride and was left disappointed when Posh director Barry Fry then rang him trying to sign Phil Bolland.

“I told Barry to get the manager to ring me if you want to do business,” said Curle, who had the final say after a 3-1 win at The Deva.

“People who disrespect me or my players in public don’t get my acknowledgement. That’s the end of it!”

Curle, who had brought Dave Artell, Scott McNiven and Luke Dimech with him from former club Mansfield, was still keeping The Blues at the right end of the table.

So much so that Vaughan turned down an approach from Bristol Rovers, which would have meant a return home and to the club where he kicked off his career.

Speaking at the time, Curle said: “I’m not disappointed the chairman said no. I’d been more disappointed if he’d have said yes.”

Then came speculation linking him to a move to team up with Neil Warnock again at Portsmouth but Curle, who led The Blues to a surprise FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest, was determined to add a promotion to his CV with Chester.

But suddenly it all started to go wrong and Curle added: “There’s reasons for it. the dynamics in the dressing room changed. Some players were getting paid before others and that’s always going to have a knock-on effect.

“My biggest regret was letting my assistant John Gannon go. I was faced with a dilemma and I made the wrong decision and I lost a friendship over it.

“We went on a dreadful run, one one in 13 and that was against my old club, Mansfield.

“So you expect the worse after a run like that and you knew the writing was on the wall.”

That was 15 years ago and Curle now has the chance to join two of his former Chester players, Artell and Lowe in League One next season.

Artell led Crewe to a second placed finish and Lowe’s Plymouth Argyle were third and Cure can complete the treble if he can inspire his Northampton team to victory at Wembley tonight in the play-off final against Exeter.

The 56-year-old former England defender, who lost out as manager of Mansfield to former Chester captain Peter Jackson’s Huddersfield in 2004, is currently in charge of his sixth different club but is yet to record a promotion on his managerial CV.

“I’ve had a promotion as a player, I’ve got a promotion from the Championship to the Premier League when I was working with Neil Warnock at QPR,” said Curle.

“Then I chose the direction I wanted to go and I wanted to be a manager in my own right.

“Within my own personal guises, I want to manage and coach in the Premier League and a stepping stone is gaining promotion – showing the greater world that what you do you’re good at and you’re able to win games of football.”