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APRIL 2001
30 April 2001
This Saturday's match at Deva Stadium with Rushden & Diamonds will NOT be all-ticket, though will be strictly segregated. Preceding the game will be a slow silent funeral march with coffin to the Deva Stadium from the top of Bumpers Lane organised by the ISA, the march will start from Kwik Save at 13:45hrs. There will be plenty of media presence on Saturday and ALL City fans are urged to take this last opportunity of the season to make their feelings regarding the running of the club heard/known. The visitors have been allocated a whopping 3,000 spaces in the ground including three blocks in the main stand usually occupied by home fans.

The death has been announced of Clifford Thompson Club President at Chester City.

Angus Eve, currently on long term loan from City to his former club in Trinidad, was sent off in the World Cup Qualifier against Mexico on April 25th. Angus was sent off after he retaliated against Mexican midfielder Antonio Ruiz, who had spat on him. Apparently he elbowed the Mexican defender in the face in full view of everyone in an off the ball incident. According to reports the Mexican players kept taunting him and calling him some derogatory terms and racial slurs. After the game FIFA vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation adviser Jack Warner said : "You know Trinidadians and spit. We don't like spit, we don't like rain and we 'fraid white people. We (TTFF) understand that but we still had to tell him that he is too much of a player to do this and therefore he was fined $9000 and suspended."

27 April 2001
City travel to Woking tomorrow for their last away match of the season; and, according to last night's extensive programme notes by the Chester City board of directors, it will be the last away match in a Chester shirt for many of the players. The 2000 word statement issued by the club announced that there will be "large scale changes in the playing personnel for next season." Apparently the club "will conduct a nationwide scouting and player trial system at various locations throughout the Country, and the best available players will be signed by Chester City".

The notes went on to slate just about everyone involved with the club as well as the PFA: "This self-centered attitude is made worse in professional football by a Professional Footballers Association union that overprotects the players, babying them and pampering them to where Clubs have barely any way to control or discipline their own players." I bet they won't be happy with those comments.

The epistle went on: "In total then, Chester City has spoiled its players with the best wages, facilities, equipment, weight and fitness machines, transportation, hotels, and meals while also being completely soft on them with minimal training time and no discipline. The result has been exactly the same as any spoiled children of a family, the more that you spoil them the less they appreciate it, and the more self-centered they become." etc etc

Back to tomorrow and all children under the age of 16 will be let in free by Woking, a nice gesture for their last home match of the season, Chester City take note.

Following on from the Evening Leader's decision to ban comments from Terry Smith from the paper the Chester Chronicle have done likewise.

Former City manager Kevin Ratcliffe is to start winding-up procedures against the club in the next couple of weeks. Ratcliffe was awarded £230,000 at a Football League tribunal over a year ago. Ratcliffe resigned from his managerial position at the Deva in the Autumn of 1999 involking a clause in his contract relating to a pay-off settlement agreed with the club. "The club must have made some money from the John Murphy and Luke Beckett transfers and the Man City and Aston Villa cup games. That's why I feel I need to push on." added Ratcliffe.

26 April 2001
Chester play a Conference fixture tonight against relegation threatened Kingstonian at Deva Stadium, kick-off 19:45hrs. City won 3-1 at Kingsmeadow back in September and a victory tonight would condemn K's to the Ryman Premier League next season. However, City's record against teams from the wrong end of the division isn't good with both Hednesford Town and Forest Green Rovers winning at the Deva recently and of course Kettering thumped us 4-0 on Tuesday night. These are indeed dark days at the club but there's no doubt that the fans are right behind Graham Barrow and the players who are doing a great job in extreme circumstances. The players are believed to have written to the PFA in support of Paul Beesley following his fine and ban this week.

Following the decision by Terry Smith to drop Paul Beesley for the remainder of the season, the rest of the playing staff at City have issued the following statement to the press.

"Due to the recent letter to Paul Beesley, we the players find this letter hard to believe as this player has been totally committed to this football club as a player and an assistant manager.

You obviously do not realise the amount of work Paul Beesley does to bring on the younger players at this club. How can you criticise a player that played all his career, at top level football and indeed played under some great managers such as Howard Wilkinson and Harry Bassett?

Paul Beesley is a well respected person and player and highly thought of by all professional players at this club and many others. We recognise this and Paul has 100 per cent backing from the team.

The players also want to show their appreciation and respect to Graham Barrow. Graham has single-handedly put Chester back on the football map and has restored some pride back into the club which was lost after last year's poor season."

Well the boot's on the other foot now!, The Chester Evening Leader have had enough of Terry Smith's daily faxes to the paper (today's was 2,000 words long!) and are now refusing to report any of his statements. Evening Leader Sports editor Alistair Syme, who covered City for many years himself said: �Our reporter Nick Harrison has travelled the length and breadth of the country, from Durham to Dover, covering Chester City this season. That�s because we believed we owed it to our readers, the fans, to provide the best possible service to them. Now Nick isn�t allowed to speak to the manager, players or staff of the club, on Board of Directors� orders. This has got out of hand. Smith is an Amercian, from the land of the free. He won�t allow freedom of speech to the club�s employees but he does allow himself the privilege of delivering virulent criticism of those same employees which he presumably expects newspapers to publish.� Guess who's going to be banned next?

22 April 2001
[Paul Beesley]Assistant manager and England semi-pro international Paul Beesley has been sensationally fined and dropped for the remainder of the season for failing to stand in the correct place at set pieces against Canvey Island. No doubt Beesley will be straight off the the PFA for a ruling on this petty and ridiculous ban. The news, I'm sure, wont go down well with the rest of the players either, several of who have already asked for transfers. It is unclear if manager Graham Barrow had any say in this decision but it would seem very unlikely. Neither Beesley or Barrow can comment as the club have banned all employees from speaking to the press without consent from Terry Smith or club secretary Michael Fair.

The clubs daily press release states:

�Chester City Football Club has fined player/assistant manager Paul Beesley for failing to follow manager Graham Barrow's playing instructions during Chester's loss to Canvey Island in the second leg of the FA Umbro Trophy Semi-Final.

�During the first half of that loss, Beesley lined up in the incorrect position on every one of Chester City's set pieces including all corners for and free kicks for. His incorrect alignments, and his movement of other key players out of their correct positions, let down the team and players because it made it impossible for the other 10 Chester players to execute the planned and prepared corners and free kicks.

�This is not the first time that Beesley's discipline has been questioned. He has had the highest number of cautions, sendings off, and suspensions for Chester all season and one of the highest in the entire Conference, some for dissension, and the Club feels that this is a bad example for the assistant manager to have set for the rest of the players.

�The Club has also decided to sit Beesley down as a player for the rest of the season because the Club feels that the large number of games that Chester has played this year has taken its toll on a player in his mid-30s.

�Beesley will now be sent on scouting assignments for the rest of the season. Beesley has not scouted any matches of any type throughout this season, neither to look at future opponents nor to look for young players, because Chairman Terry Smith has done this work throughout all the Cup competitions.

�However, now that Smith has stopped doing so following his scouting trip to Leigh RMI last week, then the Club has assigned Beesley to all these duties for the remainder of the season.�

The PFA�s John Bramhall – who had a short loan spell with City in 1985 – said: �We will support Paul Beesley�s case.�

22 April 2001
Not only have the fans had enough of the recent actions of Terry Smith but it appears that the Nationwide Conference aren't too impressed either. They are demanding to know why no one from the club turned up at a meeting with the board arranged for last Thursday. City had requested an appeal hearing regarding the late payment of the Luke Beckett transfer fee from Chesterfield and no one bothered to show. This comes just days after another no show by the club at crucial talks held by Conference clubs with the Football League regarding the possibility of a second automatic promotion place from the Conference.
There seem to be increasing doubts over the validity of a statement issued by the football club last week. That statement which appeared on Clubcall, was sent to the local press and was defended by Terry Smith on radio Merseyside, insisted that the potential buyer for the club Phil Davies had pulled out of talks stating that a female member of the party with his consortium had shocked by the amount of abuse hurled at Terry Smith by some City fans at the Canvey match. Phil Davies told the Non League Paper yesterday that: �These comments have been made without my knowledge or approval. It is true we have taken a step back to re-evaluate the situation, but we still want to buy the club.�

Terry Smith has apologised to Barrie Hipkiss over the events of last week but has not lifted his ban. Barrie, who received a standing ovation at yesterday's match said: �He wanted me to apologise as well, but I told him I had nothing to apologise for. I have done nothing wrong. I'm not going to let Terry Smith beat me. He is destroying this club. I suspect Chester City could be sold by the middle of next week, and it's the best thing that can happen to the club. Terry Smith is not the savour, he's ruining it...and I told him so�.
The next members meeting of the ISA takes place tomorrow at the Royal Mail Club, Station Road, Chester. The meeting starts at 19:30hrs – all members are urged to attend. The latest copy of the ISA newsletter The Independents was mailed out to members at the end of last week.
20 April 2001
In a two page fax to the Evening Leader, football club director Gerald Smith has threatened to close down Chester City Football Club, the usual supporters abuse and negative local media excuses are being used. According to the board of directors all the abuse of the chairman is affecting the players performances. Oh! and surprise surprise the meeting of the Democratic Supporters Association on Monday has been postponed.

City's shirt sponsors Gap Recruitment have decided not to take up their option of a second year's sponsorship deal with the club. They stated: �Gap would like to thank Chester City Football Club for its cooperation during its time as main sponsor and take this opportunity to wish the club every success for the remainder of the season and in the future.�

19 April 2001
[Barrie Hipkiss]Yet another popular figure at the football club has been barred from the Deva Stadium. Barrie Hipkiss (left), chairman of the official Chester City Supporters Club and lifelong City fan since 1946 is the latest person not welcomed following on from radio Merseyside's Neil Turner last Saturday.

This no doubt follows his comments in last night's issue of the Evening Leader regarding the Chester City Democratic Supporters� Association when he (quite rightly) stated: �I just wish Terry Smith had approached the supporters first. I�m adamant it won�t work and I was inundated with calls last night from fans who can�t believe what is happening. I�ve spoken to other supporters� associations and they think the same. We�re all asking the same question at the moment. What is going on?� Not only chairman of the supporters club, Barrie also carried out many matchday duties at the Deva. �He (Smith) got the staff to tell me I was banned when I went to the ground this morning and they were devastated,� said Hipkiss, This disgraceful action by the club will have many repercussions as anger among the fans is starting to flow over.

Barrie also echoed many fans' fears when he stated: �Unibond League and out of football altogether is where we�re heading and Terry Smith will take us there. God help us is all I can say.�

Expect Terry Smith, who has not been to City's last three matches, to now issue a statement denying absolutely everything and blaming the whole 'misunderstanding' on the local media!

Exiles press statements

18 April 2001
City make the relatively short trip to play Leigh RMI tonight in a Nationwide Conference match. The game at Hilton Park kick's-off at 19:45hrs. City manager Graham Barrow may use the game to rest a few players following the Easter weekend matches. The home side could include former City keeper Dave Felgate who had an outstanding match when the two sides drew 1-1 at the Deva earlier in the season.

17 April 2001
According to City chairman Terry Smith negotiations to sell the club have broken down and that a deal is now off. Not only that but unbelievably he's formed a new Chester City Democratic Supporters� Association to make all the decisions regarding the running of the football club.

Smith states in the Evening Leader:

�I have now formulated a solution to the entire problem. We will form a Chester City Democratic Supporters Association. This Association will make all of the decisions regarding Chester City Football Club. Every supporter is entitled to be a member of this Association, and each Supporter will have one vote on every issue, just like I will have one vote on every issue. We will hold a meeting at the stadium each week to discuss all of the issues, put in written votes from everyone on each issue, and plan together every future aspect of Chester City Football Club.

There will be three Rules to follow in the meetings.
1) Everyone at the meeting will be on the same side. We will all be working together. There will be no situations like the Labour-Conservative arguments. Everyone will be allowed to have their say, but there will be no arguing and in the end all the issues will come down to a vote by everyone. When that vote is taken, then we all must support that decision.
2) All decisions need to be sound financial decisions so that we do not get the Club into financial difficulty.
3) Any decision needs to be based upon facts and not upon emotions, hearsay or media comments. If all the facts are not known, then a sub-committee will be set up that will research the matter and report their findings back to the entire group for the group to vote on.�

�This will be a great learning experience for both the Supporters and for myself. I have full confidence in our Supporters working together to create a bright future for Chester City, and I am very excited about starting work with them.�

Smith blames a breakdown of communications between himself and the supporters as the root of all the recent problems, this same breakdown of communications also seems to be causing problems between the club and the Inland Revenue.

Apparently the first meeting of the Chester City Democratic Supporters Association takes place next Monday night at the Deva Stadium 19:00hrs, by coincidence the same night as the ISA meeting! in fact, there's no coincidence at all. No doubt we can expect three pages in Saturday's match programme all about this. It will be interesting to see just how many of the 1,500+ City supporters want to work with him. Should be a lively meeting on Monday then. More (today) on the Evening Leader website.
16 April 2001
[Carl Ruffer]Two of City's most promising players Chris Blackburn and Carl Ruffer (left) have asked to be put on the transfer list at the Deva. Several other players are rumoured to be joining them including Andy Porter and Paul Carden.

These moves follow continued unrest with matters off the field at the club. Radio Merseyside's Neil Turner was banned from the press box on Saturday – he paid to sit in the seats, and the local press are reporting unrest among the matchday stewards who are all on the verge of resigning together. If this happened it would cast a doubt over Saturday's home fixture with Dagenham and Redbridge.

The club have already been reprimanded by he Conference following the late postponement of the Hayes game earlier in the season.

City are set to receive a financial windfall of £85,000 in the next 14 days following the outcome of the recent enquiry into the financial irregularities at Chesterfield. Chesterfield have been ordered to pay Chester the £75,000 still outstanding from the deal as well as £10,000 in lieu of interest accrued on the late payment of the fee. It is reported in some sections of the press that the whole Beckett transfer may go to a new tribunal hearing, and, with the striker notching up 20 goals this season the value may be higher.

12 April 2001
City have a provisional date for their postponed Nationwide Variety Club Trophy match with Nuneaton Borough and this is Thursday 3 May at Deva Stadium, kick-off 19:45hrs.

Chester were the only Conference club not to be represented at Tuesday's important meeting between the Conference and Football League chiefs discussing the possibility of a two-up two-down system between the league's.

10 April 2001

Following a pitch inspection, tonight's northern final match with Nuneaton Borough in the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy is off due to a waterlogged pitch. With City already scheduled to play three games a week until the end of the month (on the 14th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 26th and 28th!), it's not easy to see where this match will be fitted in. There's also the matter of the final against either Yeovil Town or Kingstonian should we get through.

9 April 2001
Well City's recent run of bad form continued as they were well and truly dumped out of the FA Trophy on Saturday by Canvey Island. The part-timers from Essex played far better that Chester over the two legged semi-final and City will have no complaints over the eventual 0-4 aggregate scoreline to a side who would cope well in the Conference. The number of real efforts on goal over the 180 minutes can be counted on one hand as the players failed to exert themselves for any length of time.

Since the quarter-final victory over Southport on 13 March City have lost five of the seven matches played as their form has slumped alarmingly. The home pattern of play also seem far too predictable, with City seemingly only able to adapt one style of play, a defensive one, with few options available should things need to be changed. City's lack of a strong midfield and firepower up front were once again found out.

Saturday's game also saw several demonstrations against chairman Smith. Twelve supporters were ejected (not without a struggle) from the ground at half-time and a large SMITH OUT! banner appeared, was then confiscated, then reappeared in the west stand.

No doubt the trouble off the pitch seems to be getting to the players as much as it is the fans. That Southport match appeared to herald a new era with Smith's copious programme notes that day indicating that he would very soon be off. Six weeks later and a new owner is waiting in the wings but still not in place. Various rumours circulated the Deva on Saturday that the deal had been done but nothing has so far come of it, the sooner the new owner, named in the Daily Post as Phil Davis, is in the place the better.

�I think the cup runs have glossed over the fact that we�ve under-achieved in the Conference,� said Barrow. �It�s going to be a difficult job to lift the players and the fans after Saturday � and really I have to start turning my attention to next season.�

Former manager Kevin Ratcliffe is stepping up his attempt to get the estimated £230,000 from City awarded to him by a Football League Tribunal over 12 months ago. Ratcliffe resigned from his managerial position at the Deva in the Autumn of 1999 involking a clause in his contract relating to a pay-off settlement agreed with the club. "Despite exploring every avenue to try to obtain the cash from the club I am constantly coming up against brick walls so I am having to resort to further legal action to obtain the ash which was awarded to me." Another person still waiting cash from the club is former chief executive Bill Wingrove. Wingrove was awarded £12,000 following a case or unfair dismissal also back in the autumn of 1999 and has yet to receive payment.

6 April 2001
Terry Smith has resigned as a director of Chester City FC. The resignation was lodged at Companies House on 17 March. However he still has an interest in the club and his father Gerald, who is at the Deva tomorrow, is still registered as a Director of the company along with his brother Mark, and another, as yet unnamed person. This morning's Chester Chronicle also revealed that no football club accounts have been lodged since 30 May 1996. This could mean a heavy fine for the directors and could even lead to the company being struck off the Company's Register. Where have we heard all this before?! This must bring into serious doubt all the claims that the Football Club is in the best financial state it has ever been in made on so many occasions by the chairman. The fans and shareholders (indeed also the Inland Revenue) want proof of this. No doubt more news will be forthcoming in the very near future.

All this turmoil off the pitch helps in no way with the preparation on it for tomorrow's crucial FA Trophy semi-final second leg with Canvey Island. Carl Ruffer is definitely out and Andy Porter is doubtful as City attempt to claw back the two goals conceded in the first leg in Essex. Wayne Brown is expected to be fit. Canvey made eight changes from last Saturday's game in their 2-0 midweek win at Harrow and are staying the weekend at Carden Park.

4 April 2001
Chester will play Nuneaton Borough in the northern final of the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy. Borough beat Morecambe 2-0 last night in their semi-final. The match takes place next Tuesday at the Deva Stadium. The winners will play either Yeovil Town or Kingstonian in the main final. City have reduced the prices by £2 for the match next Tuesday. Prices, which include a match programme are Adult: Sitting: £10; Standing: £8. Concessions: £8/�4. Children: £5/�4.

3 April 2001
City travel to Dover today for a resheduled Conference game postponed in January. Carl Ruffer, who aggravated a hamstring injury on Saturday misses out and could also be sidelined for that vital second leg coming up. Radio Merseyside report that Wayne Brown [shoulder], Neil Fisher, Matt Doughty, Paul Carden [foot] and Mark Beesley [foot] will all be missing as well. Chris Blackburn who broke a bone in his foot during the home Yeovil Town match several weeks ago has resumed training and may play a part tonight. Goalkeeper Phil Priestley, who has signed on loan from Rochdale until the end of the season, will start for the third time this season.The game kick's-off at The Crabble at 19.45hrs.

With Bolton's home pitch unfit for play and the Ladies' League Cup final being staged at the Deva, Jon Cross (C of Ex) offered to share the Centre of Excellence facility at Clifton Drive to ensure the girls were able to continue their excellent season.

Last Sunday they entertained Bolton, possibly their greatest adversaries for the North West Womens Premier League title. Chester, missing three key players through holidays and suspension, led 2-1 until 3 minutes from time when a through ball from deep in the Bolton half, broke free into the Chester 18yd box. The Chester keeper's hand appeared to catch the chasing Bolton forward and the referee had little option but to award a penalty and, although the Chester keeper stayed on the field, she had no chance with an excellently struck spot kick.

This result leaves the girls needing a maximum of 5 wins from their remaining 7 games (unless Bolton drop further points). Interestingly, having already beaten Chorley, Newsham and Bury, and having held Preston away from home, any other win against either Trafford (still to play twice) or Bolton (away, last game of the season!), will be enough to bring the title to Chester and secure long awaited promotion.
2 April 2001
Saturday's disappointing defeat at Canvey Island leaves City facing a real problem to get things right for the return leg at the Deva on Saturday. The Blues didn't perform at all and have now lost four out of their last five matches since the quarter final victory over Southport – failing to score in all four defeats. Around 4-500 City fans made the long and expensive trek down to Essex from all over the country and were rewarded with very little to cheer – in fact, nothing!. Only some fine saves from Wayne Brown and several near misses prevented the tie from being completely out of reach at the half way stage.
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The Exiles have set up a blog to provide away match information and articles for Blues fans living away from Chester. You can read it here
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