Monday, 16 March 2020

Chester FC - Deva Stadium

Chester FC
Deva Stadium
Bumpers Lane

01244 371376
Official Website

Ground Number: 92
Tuesday 10th April 2004
Chester City 0-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca Cola League 2



The club was formed as Chester FC and was established in 1885 as an amalgamation of Chester Rovers and Old King's Scholars. They added the 'City' suffix in 1983. In 1999, American Terry Smith took over the club and despite no knowledge of English Football insisted on becoming the manager and baffling the players with bizarre tactics. Steven Vaughan took over as owner in 2001 and initially appeared to be a saviour. However, during his controversial reign, the club entered administration in 2009. Laughably, the FA allowed the club to be taken over by a company owned by the Vaughan family. Unsurprisingly, the season was a complete disaster with the club starting the season with a 25-point penalty due to debts not being paid. A record-low attendance of 425 was recorded for the 1-0 defeat at home to Salisbury on Tuesday 19th January 2010 as fans stayed away in protest. The club's final game on Saturday, February 6th 2010 recorded an attendance of just 460 for a 2-1 defeat at home to Ebbsfleet United. The club failed to fulfil their next fixture at Forest Green Rovers and were thrown out of the league and their record expunged.


Former grounds include Faulkner Street, The OId Showground, Whipcord Lane and Sealand Road. The latter was Chester's home from 1906 until 1990. Following the failure to gain a safety certificate for the venue, the land was sold to a supermarket and the club was forced to share with Macclesfield Town for two years. They moved into their purpose-built Deva Stadium in 1992, the first match coming on 25th August with a 2-1 defeat to Stockport County. The club's nickname of 'The Seals' is a nod to the name of their former home. 


Chester started out playing friendlies only before joining the Combination in 1890. They'd remain here until 1910, save for between 1899 and 1901 when the club was temporarily disbanded as they did not have a home ground. They were champions here in 1909, following five runners-up spots in a row. The Lancashire Combination was next up, with Chester staying between 1910 and 1914 before the outbreak of World War 1. When football resumed in 1919, they played in the Cheshire League and were champions in 1922, 1926 and 1927. They'd leave for the Football League in 1931 but return in 2000, spending four years in the Conference before winning promotion back as champions in 2004. Following another relegation in 2009, the club would return to the Conference but would go out of business later that season with their results being officially expunged.


The club would have two spells in the Football League, the first lasting from 1931 until 2000 and the second from 2004 until 2009. Their best season would come in 1978
when they finished 5th in the third tier and the joint worst being in 1953 and 1954 when they finished bottom of the 3rd Division North which was the bottom tier at the time. The club was not automatically relegated though but they'd finish bottom of the lot again in 2000 and this time they were relegated.


In the FA Cup, the club's best-ever run in the FA Cup has been to the 5th Round twice - firstly in 1977 when they lost 1-0 at Wolves and then again in 1980 when they went out 2-1 at Ipswich Town. Chester reached the League Cup semi-finals in 1975, losing 5-4 to Aston Villa over two legs. Cup wins include the Welsh Cup (three times) and the  Bob Lord Trophy (Conference League Cup) in 2001. They also reached the area final of the Football League Trophy in 1987 (losing to Mansfield Town) and the semi-final of the FA Trophy in 2001 (losing 4-0 on aggregate to Canvey Island)


Chester have a bitter rivalry with local rivals Wrexham. The vast majority of Chester's stadium is actually in Wales and just 12 miles separate the two clubs. The rivalry is so intense is that the game is one of the only in the UK to be designated a 'bubble match' where away fans are forced to travel to the games on official coaches. Wrexham held the upper hand over their rivals with 66 wins to Chester's 49 with 31 games ending in a draw. Big wins include a 6-1 win for Chester in February 1965 and a 7-0 win for Wrexham in April 1953.


Chester's record income from a transfer came when they sold Ian Rush to Liverpool for £300,000 in 1980 and the record spent was £150,000 for Kevin Ellison from Tranmere Rovers. Record football league appearance holder is defender Ray Gill who played 406 times between 1951 and 1962. Their record scorer was Stuart Rimmer with 135 goals in 361 games over two spells in the 1980s and 1990s.


The two clubs were regular opponents during the early 1990s and mid-late 2000s. Over the 14 meetings, Wycombe very much holds the upper hand with ten wins to Chester's two with the other two games ending in draws. Chester City was Wycombe's opponent for a home game in 1993 with Wycombe winning 1-0 thanks to a Keith Scott goal. By coincidence, Wycombe would be the first-ever opponent for Chester when we beat them 2-0 in August 2004.  

Several players have played for both clubs.....

Cyrille Regis - sadly no longer with us. A great player who scored 9 in 35 for Wycombe and 7 in 29 for Chester.

Tony Hemmings - another good one for Wycombe, the pacy striker scored 12 goals in 49 for us and 2 in 19 for Chester.

Terry Howard - cultured defender who made 61 appearances for Wycombe in the 90s, on loan at Chester as a youngster in 1987.

Jermaine McSporran - great striker picked up from Oxford City for £75k in 1998, 41 goals in 186 apps for Wycombe. Single outing for Chester.

Iain Turner - young Everton keeper (at the time) who had loan spells at both clubs.

Carlos Lopez - a single appearance for both as a defender, the worst player ever to play for Wycombe in the Football League.

Brian McGorry - another hopeless player, a midfielder with 4 appearances for Wycombe and 14 for Chester. 

Drewe Broughton - a well-travelled striker who made 3 apps for Wycombe and 14 for Chester scoring 2 goals.

Alex Lynch - a goalkeeper who made 4 appearances (covering injury) for Wycombe and 27 for the new Chester club.


Following the demise of the old club, Chester fans would get together to form a phoenix club. Chester FC was formed in 2010 and would start out in the NPL D1 North (step 4 of non-league) Three straight league wins saw them promoted to the Conference / National League, but they struggled, with a best-ever finish of 12th in 2015. They were eventually relegated in 2018 and remain in the National North to this day. The club remains fan-owned and are currently managed by no-nonsense pair Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley who became well-known thanks to the BBC documentary about Salford City where they managed previously. 


The walled city of Chester dates back to Roman times and is close to the Welsh border. It has a population of 79,645 and is twinned with Sens in France, Lorrach in Germany and Senigallia in Italy. Famous people from the city include radio presenter Mike Parry, actors Daniel Craig and Malcolm Hebden, comedians Russ Abbott and Bob Mills and footballers Tom Heaton, Danny Murphy, Michael Owen and Ryan Shawcross.


I've made five visits to the Deva Stadium in all, but don't really have any strong memories of them. All of them were made during my seven-year run of not missing a game home or away for Wycombe but it was never a ground I really looked forward to visiting, owing to its isolated location. Nowadays with Google Maps, it wouldn't be so much of an issue, but I had a rotten sense of direction and no knowledge of the local area. On the upside, the Chester fans were always very decent and friendly and the stewarding fairly relaxed.

My first visit came in August 2004. The two teams were getting used to League Two - Wycombe after being relegated the previous season and Chester playing their first home game back in the Football League after a four-year absence. I travelled on the official supporters' coach and had a pretty decent Tuesday evening with Wycombe running out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Mike Williamson and Danny Senda. The same method was used for the following seasons game. Chester triumphed 1-0 thanks to a goal from Stuart Drummond as we slumped to a fifth consecutive defeat. I also used the same coach for our game there in January 2007, Wycombe winning 1-0 under Paul Lambert thanks to a Jermaine Easter goal.

I'd be roped into driving for our game during the 2007/08 season where we shared a 2-2 draw with Chester City. Sergio Torres opened the scoring on 13 minutes for Wycombe but Chris Holdroyd would equalise for the hosts three minutes later. They turned the game on its head, taking the lead through a John Murphy goal but John Sutton would equalise for the Chairboys. My final visit in August 2008 would be the final game of my seven-year run as I got fed up watching dull football at the same old places. I went on the Independent Supporters Club coach this time with my Dad and as always, we stopped at a pub. On the day goals from John Mousinho gave Wycombe a 2-0 victory. The season would end in contrasting fortunes for the clubs, Wycombe unconvincingly winning promotion under Pater Taylor playing dreadful football which was preferable to Chester City's season as they were relegated out of the Football League.


THE DEVA STADIUM is a smart but unremarkable ground that opened in 1992 and was not unlike Wycombe's home at the time. Three sides are seated with a capacity of 5.500 seats although the away end was originally terraced. Now the only standing area is the Hary McNally Terrace whose 1000 capacity is for home fans only. The food and club shop is fairly standard fare from what I remember. There's a small bar at the ground, otherwise, your options are limited to retail parks (10 minutes walk) or the city centre (25 minutes walk)

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