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APRIL 1998
30 April 1998
Following a meeting at the Football League yesterday, the embargo has finally been lifted from Chester City's transfer activities. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe will now be able to concentrate on strenghtening the squad for next season, though it doesn't look like he'll have much money to spend.
29 April 1998
Goalkeeper Ronnie Sinclair will not be offered a new contract by Chester and has been released on a free transfer by the club. Sinclair was one of City's highest wage earners and manager Kevin Ratcliffe admitted the Scottish shot-stopper was "gutted" at being released. He added that it the current financial situation changed then the way might be open for his return but it's rather difficult to envisage this. Sinclair has been on the transfer list at his own request for some time but had recently indicated that he was happy to stay at the Deva. Looks like a cost cutting exercise to me..... Sinclair said: "It was the last thing I was expecting to hear when I turned up for training".

28 April 1998
Three Chester players face operations this summer on knee injuries. Ronnie Sinclair, Spencer Whelan, Gary Shelton. Sinclair and Whelan enter hospital next week while Gary Shelton will wait a little longer. "They're not serious operations," said Shelton. "The three of us have got floating bodies in the knee that need to be washed out. Hopefully mine will just involve keyhole surgery because I want to continue playing next season. I'll keep myself fit; and, if needed, I'll turn out." Shaun Reid is eager to get back in the City side following his season-long lay-off following a knee injury last summer. Reid has just returned from treatment at Sunderland, where brother Peter is manager.

Reid sorely missed in midfield this season is hopeful of a return to the starting line-up in time for the beginning of the new season.

27 April 1998
City chairman Mark Guterman and assistant PFA chief executive Mike McGuire head for League headquarters at Lythm St Annes on Wednesday. They aim to get the embargo lifted that has prevented City from taking players on loan or buying players for the last several months. At Wednesday's meeting, League chiefs will seek assurances from owner Guterman that the club's financial position is more secure.

Nice to see former club chairman Ray Crofts amongst the City fans on the Moss Lane terrace on Saturday. Ray, who retired from the club due to ill health in 1994, saw City through their most turbulent years during our two year ground share at Macclesfield. The announcement over the tannoy at half-time drawing everyones attention to this fact, brought generous applause from all sides of the ground. Meanwhile over 100 City fans were locked out from the ground when the gates to the away section were shut at 2.30pm (don't remember that happening before!), and up to 1000 Macc fans suffered the same fate as promotion fever swept through the town.

Meanwhile we wish a speedy recovery to club general manager Bill Wingrove who was admitted to hospital on Friday.

23 April 1998
Chester fans will make the once familiar trip to Moss Rose Macclesfield on Saturday for what promises to be an interesting clash. Macc, who are unbeaten at home this season, need a win to secure promotion to the Second Division at the first attempt. The Blues only have pride to play for now, but the impressive display of several youngsters in the side for last Saturday's win over Colchester promises well for the future, and fans will be hoping for more of the same. Striker Gary Bennett is struggling to be fit with a back injury so Darren Wright look certain to carry on where they left off last week and John Murphy and Rod Thomas are both available again after suspension. If you're going to Moss Rose the message seems to be get down there early as a near capacity crowd of 5,500+ is expected.

22 APRIL 1998
City manager Kevin Ratcliffe has drawn up a short list of six players he wants to bring to the Deva next season, but the current transfer embargo placed on the club by the Football League prevents him from talking to players. Chairman Mark Guterman and Bill Wingrove are hoping to meet with League bosses and PFA representative Mick McGuire next week in an effort to get the ban lifted.

21 APRIL 1998
John Murphy starred for City's reserves as they went down 1-0 at Newcastle United last night. More than 1,500 turned out to see amongst others Ian Rush, Shaka Hislop and Steve Howey in the top of the table match. Assistant manager Gary Shelton enthused: "We played really well and the young lads loved it. They had a very good side out and although we didn't see much of the ball, we probably created the better chances. Martin Giles could have had a hat-trick in the first half and we had a few other chances. "It was just a great experience for the lads; and I'm sure they'll never forget."

Meanwhile, just when you thought Gary and Andy Shelton would be the only father/son combination to play for the Blues, they've been joined by the 'Vile' clan (no puns please). Graham Vile from the Centre of Excellence, replaced his injured son Alex during the Youth Team game at Manchester City 'B' on Saturday. The 43-year-old last played for City's 'A' team 26 years ago! – great stuff!

20 APRIL 1998
City's reserves side travel to Newcastle tonight for their final league game of the season in the Pontins League Division 3. City's reserves have won their last five matches and by my reckoning are currently lying third in the table behind Newcastle and Scarborough. The game was originally scheduled for a couple of weeks ago but was postponed at late notice (the City team were already at the ground!) due to a waterlogged pitch. Kevin McIntyre, a left-sided midfielder from Tranmere plays, while Ratcliffe also gives a trial to a 19-year-old Wimbledon centre half Paul Reynolds (born in Widnes).

17 APRIL 1998
Both Rod Thomas and John Murphy are suspended for tomorrow's home match with Colchester United. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe is struggling to get a half-decent side together with Ross Davidson, Gary Shelton and Jon Jones also out carrying injuries. Expect Darren Wright and Gary Bennett to continue in the side and perhaps there may be a debut for Andy Shelton.

Colchester visit the Deva on the back of a fine run and are currently lying in fourth place with an eye on an automatic promotion place. The sides last met just before Christmas at layer Road with the home side running out 2-0 winners.

Chester City (from): Brown, Richardson, Fisher, Woods, Whelan, Flitcroft, Priest, Rimmer, Bennett, Wright, A.Shelton, Giles, Dobson.
Colchester United (from): Emberson, Dunne, Betts, Skelton, Greene, Wilkins, Buckle, Sale, Lock, D.Gregory, Abrahams, N.Gregory, Duguid.

16 April 1998
Those wishing to make a postal vote for the Chester City Player of the Season may do so to:
Barry Hipkiss, 2 Cop Cottages, Off Sealand Road, Chester, CH1 4LJ.

No doubt midfielder Nick Richardson is the favourite to take the award, which will be presented on the pitch prior to the last home game of the season against Scarborough.

City will have their third kit supplier in as many years next season, after announcing their deal with Italian manufacturers Errea ends in the summer. Bill Wingrove had announced that "We'll be looking to sort out a new kit supplier in the near future." I trust the club will keep to the traditional blue and white for next years kit, but let's hope we don't have a repeat of this seasons green/black away shirt disaster. Even the players refused to wear that, giving it up after the game at Cardiff, and preferring the previous seasons bright yellow/blue strip.

15 April 1998
Forget not having enough money to buy players! It's been revealed that the Football League have blocked all transfers to Chester City, even free transfers!, since early on in the season because of City's dire financial situation. This usually only occurs if the players wages are being paid or subsidised by the PFA (as many fans have expected). With the sale of three key players things will be looking a little better as far as short term finances are concerned. Club officials are expected to have talks with the League next week in an effort to resolve the situation. "We are hoping to get the embargo lifted as soon as possible" said Bill Wingrove, though he wouldn't reveal just why or when it was placed on the club.

Meanwhile Kevin Ratcliffe has had talks with Matt Woods and John Murphy about contracts for next season. The players whose contracts expire in the summer are: Nick Richardson, Ronnie Sinclair, Ryan Dobson, Martin Giles, Neil Fisher, Stuart Rimmer and Rod McDonald though it's been made clear he won't play for the club again.

14 April 1998
According to Saturday's Daily Express, Birmingham City's Karren Brady has started libel actions against Chester chairman Mark Guterman. Guterman received a letter of intent from lawyer Henri Brandman on the day of the last meeting between the lower leagues and First Division clubs – led by the Birmingham boss – who want to negotiate their own television rights.

Brandman said: "Karren's complaints are about her bullying other first division clubs, and having no finesse or style. She is gravely offended by these comments."

Guterman, who according to the paper intends to use top lawyers, said: "I find the situation ridiculous. I can't understand what the fuss is about."
9 April 1998

Chester City have announced that all under 16s will be admitted free to the Deva Stadium for this Saturday's match with Doncaster Rovers.

Chester forward Rod McDonald has effectively been sacked by Chester. A culmination of disciplinary problems within in the club has proved too much and manager Kevin Ratcliffe confirmed today that the striker won't play for City again. "Rod McDonald won't be picked again because of disciplinary reasons," said Ratcliffe. "It's an accumulation of things."

8 April 1998
Radio Merseyside reports that City goalkeeper Ronnie Sinclair will miss the rest of the season following an operation on an elbow injury. With Ronnie still on the transfer list, last Saturday's defeat at Exeter could well have been his last game in City's colours. Wayne Brown, who had a nine match run in the side in Oct/Nov, will come in for the injured keeper.

Midfielder Shaun Reid is looking forward to making up for lost ground as he steps up training in an effort to be fit for the start of next season. Reid, who has one more year on his contract, saw a specialist last week and has admitted that his injured knee is in the best shape since rupturing cruciate knee ligaments in a pre-season match at Newport last July. The tough tackling midfielder has been sorely missed all season and his return alongside Nick Richardson is eagerly awaited. Ironically Richardson's best form at Chester has come after recovering from a similar injury.

7 April 1998
John Murphy has been given a one match ban following his sending off at Exeter. he misses the home game against Colchester on April 18. Ratcliffe described Murphy's performance in the 5-0 Exeter embarrassment as 'awesome.' "I thought he was the best player on the park and he's been our best player since Christmas," added Ratcliffe. "He looks to have put his knee injury problem behind him and he's only missed half a dozen games this season. He's getting better all the time and he's certainly one for the future."

Gary Bennett has spoken in the local press about the outburst at the end of Saturday's 5-0 defeat at the hands of Exeter City. Tempers started to rise amongst City fans when a certain player who Gary won't name (so let's just say he is a fair haired ex-Evertonian midfielder!) started smiling at the supporters, this, as we were 0-5 down and reduced to ten men!

"We all know they (the fans) are frustrated but I don't think it's right for them to have a go at the players," said Bennett.

"But we've got to be able to speak to the fans and that's why I went over. We appreciate that the fans have paid their money have a right to have their say and it was a disappointing performance. I think it's a build up of the things that have happened in the past few weeks but I told the fans this; I can guarantee them that we'll be giving 110 per cent in our remaining games. We're not just here to see the season out; the gaffer's made that perfectly clear. I can understand how the fans feel and they were upset that one of the players was smiling at them at the end of the game. I'm not saying who it was but I did have a word with him in the dressing room after the game and he admits he was wrong. I told the fans at Exeter that I'll never walk away from the fans; and I'm all ears to what they have to say. We need the fans more than ever now and it's a case of everyone pulling together for the good of the club."

6 April 1998
City manager Kevin Ratcliffe gives a trial to left-sided midfielder Kevin McIntyre; a first year pro at Tranmere Rovers, in tonight's reserve game at Newcastle United. This is City's last match of a successful season in the Pontins League Division 3. Also expected to turn out are Rod McDonald, Rod Thomas and Gary Shelton. Intriguingly, there's a chance of former Chester forward Ian Rush playing for the home side.

As expected, the Division Three select team announced at last night's PFA Awards Dinner was picked around the Notts County defence. The select X1 was as follows:

Darren Ward (Notts County)
Ian Hendon (Notts County)
Dennis Pearce (Notts County)
Gary Strodder (Notts County)
Dean Walling (Lincoln City)
David Parnell (Peterborough United)
Scott Houghton (Peterborough United)
John Cullen (Hartlepool United – now Sheffield United)
Martin Ling (Leyton Orient)
Jimmy Quinn (Peterborough United)
Rodney Jack (Torquay United)

2 April 1998

Chester City chairman Mark Guterman was due to appear before magistrates court yesterday (Wed) charged with three motoring offences.

The 37-year-old is charged with exceeding the 30mph speed limit, not driving in accordance with his licence and driving an uninsured vehicle. The businessman from Wilmslow was stopped by police as he drove along Parkgate Road, Chester, in August. The court at Northwich heard Guterman, who had given his address as care of Chester Football Club, could not attend because he was involved in other matters at the High Court in London regarding the football case. The club chairman's case before Northwich magistrates was adjourned until May for Guterman to appear and face his charges.

1 April 1998

The football club have been fined £100 for a non-return on the current set of accounts for the year 1996/97. Chairman Mark Guterman stated that this will be settled in the next few weeks. This is nothing new to the chairman though. The last set of club accounts (31/5/96), revealed the parent company of the football club to be another of Guterman's companies Dovedene Ltd. On 18 November 1997 Dovedene Ltd (formed 25/1/95) were struck-off the companies list for non-compliance – they didn't issue a set of accounts! The football club annual return was due in December 1997 and the club were issued with a warning letter then.

Former City favourite and Huddersfield Town manager Peter Jackson finally hangs up his boots tonight when he plays for Huddersfield reserves against West Brom reserves. And there will be a contingent from Chester to cheer him on. Gary Shelton, Nick Richardson, Dave Flitcroft and physio Stuart Walker all plan to be at the McAlpine Stadium. Jackson is a veteran of more than 700 league and cup appearances and celebrates his 37th birthday at the weekend.

"The responses I've had has been brilliant" said Jackson. "I've had faxes from Chester fans saying their coming and it will be a real party atmosphere. They had special shirts made with my name on the back and "the final game" embroidered on it and it'll be the famous number five. I don't know how long I'll last because I played in a practice match the other day and I could only last 20 minutes! I'll throw my shirt into the crown and never play again." "A few of us are going tonight" said Richardson; "But if he throws his shirt anywhere near us, we'll throw it straight back."

(Postscript) Jacko scored a penalty in the match, (though I don't know the final score). Nice to see over 5,000 fans turned out for the occasion, we all wish him well.
Midfielder Nick Richardson has made it clear that he wants to stay with Chester City next season. He is one of the ten players whose contracts are up at the end of the season and has yet to have talks about a new one. "With everything else that's gone on, it's been a season you want to forget. We've all know that the club's been stretched financially and there's been a lot of anxiety among the players. Our play-off chances haven't been helped with the sale of three key players but we know that money has helped keep the club alive. But despite the problems, we've really got no excuses for our form since Christmas – we've thrown too many points away. From a personal point of view, I've been happy with my form. It was a big season for me after the knee injury the year before last but thankfully I've come through ok. I've missed only two games, but that was because of a groin strain."
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