Let’s learn to love Chester


Spring and love are in the air, so what better time to make a new start, build bridges, run naked through the flowers and give peace a chance. I have spent considerable effort to find the notorious troublemaker Viv Savage. He has a reputation as a staunch Chester fan, and poster on both Deva Chat (Chester Website), and also wicked incursions onto Red Passion, the Wrexham forum. His very name will raise the hairs on the back of the neck of some Wrexham fans, but fear not, he and I have agreed to a ‘truth and reconciliation’ question and answer session.

Viv has agreed to answer in a spirit of harmony, and I have carefully chosen the questions avoiding any hint of slant or provocation. Can I suggest you read the following with your legs crossed, sat on the floor breathing calmly, with a dopey grin on your face.

Q- Viv when you come to Wrexham you must be awe inspired by our fabulous floodlights. What is it like being faced with our imposing erections?

A- Let’s be honest, the whole ‘floodlight’ issue is overplayed and you’re clearly compensating for inadequacies elsewhere (or everywhere?). The lights at the Cae Ras are pretty average, especially when compared with other grounds I’ve visited – Millmoor, Rotherham and Elland Road, Leeds had floodlights that were wonderfully tall and elegant.

Mind you, when 90% of your supporters are ginger midgets, I suppose most things in life appear taller and brighter than they really are. At least when you’re staring at your floodlights you’re not looking at what’s happening on the pitch, which must provide some comfort this season.

Q- Ian Rush played for both sides, he was rubbish. Would you like to take this opportunity to pour scorn on his ineffectiveness as a striker?

A- The story of Rushie is a cautionary tale, like a Shakespearean tragedy, almost.  His playing career reads like the Marc Bolan story de nos jours:  brief and initial brilliance (his Chester days), followed by turgid later years (Liverpool, Juventus, Leeds United), sadly terminating in the tragic wreckage of a tiny vehicle (Wrexham).

Q- In the 80’s your manager Harry McNally threw a bucket of water over Wrexham fans at the Racecourse, can you confirm the reason for this? Was it a hot day?

A-I think you mis-remember the incident. It wasn’t Harry who threw the water, it was his assistant, ‘Mad’ Mickey Clarke.  Harry was busy throwing Colin Woodthorpe back onto the pitch when he was waiting for treatment for an injury. That incident is the stuff of legend, with Harry screaming to the player that he ‘should be prepared to die for the cause’. Going back to the bucket of water episode, who knows what provoked Mickey, perhaps he thought the Wrexham fans needed cooling down, or more likely, a wash.

Q- Gary Bennett, a magnificent footballer, Wrexham through and through, accidentally spent a short time at Chester. Would you like to take this opportunity to wax lyrical about your gratitude to Mr Bennett?

A-‘Benno’ or ‘Hugh Scully’ as he’s known in Chester (due to a fondness for handling other people’s antiques), is something of a ‘marmite’ figure in these parts: a few people love him; most are repulsed by the mere thought of him. I myself thought he was a half-decent player, who scored some important goals for the Blues (those two against you in the FA Cup stand out), but had limited ability. After breaking Ian Knight’s leg at Hillsborough, I know Gary got a lot of stick from Wednesday fans, even death threats. Perhaps that was why he chose to hide away from the public gaze by signing for Wrexham.

Q. Chester have had a wonderful few seasons, storming through the divisions with ease. Are there any pub sides you haven’t played yet?, and are you looking forward to playing them again next season?

A-I think I can speak for most Chester fans by saying the previous three seasons have been both a pleasure and an education. There have been some wonderful days out and I’ve met some fantastic people along the way: real footballing folk who do it for the love of the game.

It’s probably easy to scoff and poke fun at these teams when you’re a long-established Conference Club, sat at the Olympian heights of sixteenth in the Skrill Premier, but the people who run, watch and play for these obscure little clubs are deadly serious. They have a hand-to-mouth existence, permanent financial concerns and very little by way of glamour, so the overwhelming majority were delighted to get a big payday and a glimpse of the big-time when they entertained us.

Stand-out Clubs for me are Marine, Matlock, Salford, Bamber Bridge, Vauxhall Motors, Mickleover Sports and Warrington Town, all are really friendly, run by fantastic people.. It was nice to be able to watch the game and have a pint at the same time and most Clubs really pushed the boat out to give us a warm welcome.

Pub teams this season have been broadly welcoming, but there’s no substitute to playing league football, as I’m sure most of your older fans, with long memories, will agree.

Q – What’s your favourite wool-based farm animal?

A- I don’t have a favourite, but I’m sure your readers do and are on first-name terms with it.

Q-  Mark Gutterman had dealings with both Wrexham and Chester. All Wrexham fans would agree he seemed to be taking Chester in the right direction, what went wrong?

A-The only time Mark Gutterman ever took anything in the right direction was when he drove his Aston Martin down the A483. The likes of Gutterman are thankfully, a dim and distant memory and should be consigned to the dustbin of history. We had twenty years of struggle with a succession of con-men, crooks and dreamers and ended up paying the ultimate price, but thank goodness we are now masters of our own destiny.  Fans’ owned Clubs that are truly representative of their local communities are the only viable option these days, I’m sure you would agree.

Q – Mark Griffiths, former Welsh International Goalkeeping superhero, and now media darling produces a superb  website called Wrexhamfan. Have you formed an opinion on Mr Griffiths?

A- Listen, Mark is a top, top bloke.  What few people realise is that, even as a schoolboy international, he was the fourth choice goalkeeper for the Wales senior side; sandwiched between Harry Seacombe and Simon Weston in the rankings. It’s easy to criticise his unique commentary style, with his constant referencing to goalkeeping, but what Mark doesn’t know about spilled catches, poor positioning at set-pieces, inadequate walls and weak goal-kicking ain’t worth knowing. Mark brings a wealth of experience in such matters to every game.

Goalies are often seen as eccentrics, but as the head of the Goalkeepers Union, and Mark’s friend, mentor and inspiration, David Icke confirmed, people who hold such views are merely pandering to the whims of the Global Elite, Babylonian Brotherhood and their acolytes in the Illuminati. He also went on to say that ‘human beings originated in a breeding program run by a race of reptilians called Anunnaki from the Draco constellation’, or at least those from Wrexham do.

So there you have it, a beautiful sense of harmony restored.  John Hume and David Trimble won a Nobel prize for their peace work in Northern Ireland, but modesty prevents neither Viv or I  even hinting that future joint prizes might be awarded for our humble efforts.

Congy Red and Viv Savage

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