During the pre-season friendlies
Chester featured a number of trialists in the team. Jamie
Heard and Ian McCaldon were fortunate to be signed but
what happened to the others?
Full back Simon Betts was
released by Darlington despite playing in virtually
every game for the Division Three side last season.
Simon made his Football League debut for Colchester
United, back in 1992, and went on to make nearly 200
appearances for the Essex side before briefly dropping
into the Conference with Yeovil Town. By the start
of 2001/02 he was playing for Darlington in his native
North East where he remained for two seasons. Simon
played for Chester in the friendly game at Cammell
Laird but started the season with Whitby Town in the
Craig Dudley also
made an appearance for Chester, at Cammell Laird, on
trial from Burton Albion. A former England Youth international
Craig had football league experience with Notts County,
Shrewsbury Town, Hull City, Oldham Athletic and Chesterfield.
Craig joined Burton in August 2002 but injury and suspension
interrupted his first season at Eton Park although
he did score a memorable FA Cup goal against his former
club Oldham. Craig is still playing with Burton.
Striker Robert Taylor played
in two of the pre-season friendlies but was clearly
struggling with his fitness and limped out of the game
against Cammell Laird with a hamstring injury. This
prompted his retirement from the game and he returned
to his native Norfolk to manage Watton United of the
Anglian Combination. A vastly experienced player, Robert
started his professional career with Norwich City but
failed to make a first team appearance and joined Leyton
Orient in 1991. At Brisbane Road he began to find the
net on a regular basis but his career really took off
when he moved to Brentford and 56 goals in 173 games
prompted Gillingham to pay £500,000 for him in
1998. At Gillingham he equalled a Division Two record
by scoring five goals in one game at Burnley and also
scored in the Division Two play-off final against Manchester
City at Wembley. His form in that game encouraged Joe
Royle to pay £1.5 million for Robert in 1999
and the following season he was transferred to Wolves
for a similar fee. The move to the Midlands never worked
out and after loan spells at QPR and Gillingham he
had a couple of spells with Grimsby on short term contracts.
Last season Robert played eight times for Scunthorpe
but was released during the summer and had a short
trial with Cheltenham before briefly arriving at Chester.
Gangling Sam Sodje needs
no introduction to City fans having scored for Margate
against Chester back in September. Sam had impressed
Mark Wright when playing for Margate against Chester
last season and featured in pre-season games against
Den Haag, Connah’s Quay and Vauxhall Motors.
The brother of Huddersfield’s Nigerian International
Efe he had previously played for Hayes and Stevenage
Borough and joined Margate in summer 2002. Last year
he was Player of the Season at Margate and the club
were delighted to welcome him back after he failed
to win full time contracts with Yeovil Town or City
during the summer.
Sumner [Published 11/10/03]