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Match ProgrammeChester break new ground, over the next few days, with matches against Danish and Dutch opposition. The visit of FC Nordsjaelland and ADO Den Haag marks the first time that the club has faced teams outside the British Isles at the Deva Stadium. Indeed this is the first occasion, since April 1962, that a continental European side has lined up against Chester in the city.

Since the club’s formation, in 1885, matches against opponents outside England and Wales have been few and far between. Away from home there have been tours of the Faeroe Islands (1986), Republic of Ireland (1987) and Scotland (1990 and 1992) as well as a one off game against Queens Park in 1989. In Chester itself there was a visit from a Czech Army X1 during the war but the first games against club sides occurred in May 1951 when Irish sides Shelbourne and Dundalk paid a visit as part of the Festival of Britain. The only other Irish visitors were Cork City in 1988. On that occasion former City keeper Phil Harrington was on the end of a five goal salvo for a Cork side managed by Eamon O’Keefe who joined Chester later that season. The first Scottish side to play at Sealand Road were Stirling Albion who played a YMCA benefit game in 1952 and then returned a decade later for a second fixture, while the now defunct Third Lanark also played a floodlight friendly in 1961. Another Scottish club, Dumbarton, have also played two games here, in 1968 and 1975. The second of these matches, a 1-1 draw, is the only time that a Scottish side has avoided defeat in Chester. Partick Thistle (including a young Alan Hansen in their squad) are the only other Scottish side to play in Chester and they were on the end of a 4-1 hiding in 1970. A case of diabolical defending as a certain Scottish commentator might say.

Only one club team from mainland Europe has played in Chester and that was German club Hamborn 07 in April 1962. Hamborn were on a brief tour of England that also included fixtures against Bristol City and Portsmouth and they arrived with a good reputation having won the West German cup the previous season.

Meanwhile Chester were bottom of the Fourth Division, following the resignation of Accrington Stanley, and manager Bill Lambton was being put under increasing pressure. Only seven days earlier the defence had capitulated in a 6-2 defeat at Aldershot while the previous Saturday Chester had been beaten at the Stadium by a Barrow side that finished the game with 10 men after their goalkeeper had suffered a broken leg. Given this background it was hardly surprising that Chester supporters arrived at the ground expecting their side to be given a complete thrashing. In the event, they came away totally mystified as Chester ran out comfortable 4-1 winners.

The game proved a contrast in styles as Hamborn’s close passing game was matched by Chester’s tactic of playing long balls down the wing as frequently as possible. It certainly must have been difficult for the Germans facing a Chester side who were clearly fit thanks to the notoriously punishing fitness regime instigated by Lambton and it can’t have helped Hamborn having played Bristol City only 24 hours earlier. It only took 10 minutes for Chester to take a complete grip of the game and keeper John Hardie was given very little to do by the lacklustre German forwards. The goals came from “the unusually lively” Ron Davies, who scored two, Bill Myerscough and Ron Hewitt. Myerscough’s goal seemed to sum up the Chester tactics as yet another long ball down the middle was missed by centre half Rinas (reputedly in the West German League team to play in Japan) for the former Coventry man to score with a low shot. The unfamiliarity of the German team caused problems for the local reporters as the Cheshire Observer claimed the German consolation goal was scored by Schafstall while the Chester Chronicle identified it as Lichtenberger.

One of the positive aspects to come out of the game for Chester was the performance of triallist Bobby Wilson, the former Accrington centre half. Wilson had been out of action following Stanley’s resignation from the Fourth Division and created a good impression with some neat and tidy play. He signed for Chester at the end of the season. Bill Lambton was understandably pleased with the overall performance stating “I said they were a disgrace on Saturday. Tonight they were a credit to me.” Meanwhile the Germans contented themselves with a simple “ the better team won.” After the game the Chester players were presented with pins bearing the German club’s coat of arms, a pennant to hang in the boardroom (I wonder what happened to that) and a photo of Hamborn together with a large map of the district.

As a footnote, Chester took the opportunity in this game to unveil a new strip of blue and white shirts and blue shorts having spent the previous three seasons playing in green shirts, gold facings and white shorts.

Chester: Hardie, Hughes, Evans, Wilson, Watson (Ireland), Cartlidge, Morris, Myerscough, Davies, Hewitt, Fitzgerald
Hamborn: Prill, Lichtenberger, Schafstall, Kirschenberg, Richmuller, Pracz, Jesih, Haefner, Rinas, Hnevsa, Schwikart

Attendance: 2,318
Receipts: £300

Chas Sumner [Published 23/7/03]
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