Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Exiles make thankless treks

As the Wintery weather grips and increasing numbers of fixtures are re-arranged, spare a thought for those who no longer have any local matches to attend. Several of the Chester Exiles have been well and truly caught out by the cold end to 2010.
The tasty-looking away match at Curzon Ashton had seen at least three Exiles snap up advance train tickets from London to Manchester. There's a few catches to these tickets though - they are non-refundable, involve fixed trains and usually have an early start to get the best value.
Exiles secretary Steve Mansley was due to travel from Surrey into London to catch the 8.20 from Euston on that day, and following on a later train were fellow Exiles committee members, David and Robert Evans.
But the forecast didn't look good and, with a pitch inspection planned for by the time Steve was coming into Crewe, he wisely decided to abandon his match-day plans the night before. David and Robert did start their trip from Kent, but were able to turn around when they heard the match was off on the Saturday morning.
It was second time unlucky for Steve, as he'd also made a train trip to Chester for the postponed home match against Durham. This time he did reach Crewe station when he heard the match was off. With a fixed train booked home, he had to spend the day in Chester - but sadly seeing no football.
The Exiles have actaully perhaps not been the luckiest fans this season. A group of us were up for the Radcliffe Borough match and were disappointed not to see a victory.
Similarly, around a dozen Exiles sponsored the home match against Chorley in honour of one of our members emigrating to Australia. But that also resulted in defeat.
But please don't call us 'Jonahs' - we have all seen Chester win, and some of us more than once - honest! We had our Exiles Christmas social at a London pub recently and it was heartening to hear the upbeat talk of successes we'd seen on the pitch this season.
Now what would make the Exiles really happy in 2011 would be the installation of undersoil heating at the Exacta, so almost every home game will go ahead. Or have I had too much Christmas sherry?!
Sue Choularton

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Lording it at Lairds

It's taken a while to get used to the feeling of sitting atop any league, but what a great sensation it is!
And the moment Chester rose to the top of the Evostik North couldn't have been any better for me - as I had picked the away match at Cammell Laird as one of my pilgrimages from the land of the Exiles.
This was my second full away match supporting the new club and there's no comparison between watching Chester in the Evostik North than the sorry, old club in the Conference. This is a lot more fun!
Apart from the 'game that never was' at Forest Green, my last away match supporting Chester City was at Kidderminster on freezing December day. The weather matched the atmosphere among the handful of Chester fans and the performance, and subequent defeat, was just what we expected.

But the atmosphere at Cammell Laird was a real joy - and the Lairds fans seemed to appreciate it as well. Yes, the football is good to watch, but the banter is great as well. I'd actually forgotten what it was like to have fellow fans to talk to at an away game.
So the real icing on the proverbial cake came for me when the ref's whistle finally went after an agonising seven minutes of injury time and we really were 'Top Of The League'!
I was on such a high that it actually crossed my mind to make the round trip for the Newcastle Town cup match on the following Tuesday. Thankfully I didn't, as it would have been another journey to a ground with no game.
Following two more wins, we are still numbero uno in the League. Sadly I couldn't make those trips, but spent the afternoons as a keyboard warrior looking for Chester updates from wherever they came. It's good to feel like I really care once again and I'm getting the guide books out to work out which new ground I will visit next....Can't wait!
In the meantime, some of the southern-based Exiles have to satisfy themselves with representing their team in the regular darts fixtures with London-based supporters of other clubs.
Our most recent game saw us take on the Bolton Wanderers Exiles team at a pub in the back streets of Kings Cross (nice!). It's not our favourite away venue, but we cast those feelings aside and managed to beat them 6-5!
It was an exciting finale as it was 5-5 until the last leg and, as we'd been ahead all the way, it was our match to lose. Apart from our winning dart, the biggest cheer of the night came when one of our players managed to stick his arrow right in the middle of a picture of a Elvis impressionist which was oddly placed over the dart board.
His dart hit with such power that the Elvis picture came off its hanger and somersaulted as it fell to the ground - landing exactly on its side facing us again. It was as if the King himself was on Chester's side. After that we just couldn't lose! 
Sue Choularton


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Chester Exiles on the oche

The Chester Exiles darts team have started their league season on Tuesday with a hard-fought match against supporters of Gillingham FC.
The eight-strong Exiles team lost 7 - 4 against their Kent rivals, but the final scoreline was a harsh reflection on the night's performances. On another day, the Exiles could have walked away with a 6-5 victory.
The Exiles darts team play in a London-based league, where every team also follows a football club based away from the capital. Football banter is an important part of the evening and every club is keen to hear about the latest news from Chester - many have found the last few years hard to believe!
Chester are actually in the third of three darts divisions, but have been challenging for promotion for the last two seasons. Last year they finished third after a tremendous run of eight wins in nine matches, but lost out in a nail-biting promotion play-off against Blackpool - who had finished third from bottom in League Two.
In 2007-8, the team, managed by Rick Goby and captained by Steve Musson, also sealed the third spot in League Three.
This season they are aiming to go at least one better and, as well as Gillingham, will be playing home and away fixtures against teams from Southampton, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley and Exeter City. They also have Cup competitions to contend with.
Next up for the Exiles darters is Bolton Wanderers, who will visit Chester's home pub - the City Retreat in Shoe Lane, in the heart of the City of London. Unless there is a fixture change, this match is scheduled for Thursday November 11.
This year also sees the Exiles darts team take on a new identity, with "City" being banished from their name. It was a proud moment when CFC was chalked up on the scoreboard at the start of the evening, after years of being known as CCFC. The Exiles supporters' group has also been renamed, and has a new logo, reflecting Chester's new identity. 

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Giles set to become Oz Exile

 The home Chorley match was sponsored by "Friends of Giles Park" in honour of the imminent emigration of long-standing Chester fan Giles Park (pictured with John Kelly), with his wife Suzanne and children Josh, 8, and Mia, 6.
Giles, who lives in Wimbledon and is a member of the Chester Exiles, has been following Chester since he moved to Hough Green at the age of 11. His son Josh, whose favourite former player is John Danby, was mascot at the match.
As a Chester fan and professional photographer, Giles is perhaps known for the iconic portrait of legendary manager Harry McNally he took for the BBC's Match of the Day magazine.
The Park family will be emigrating to Sydney, Australia, next month, where they will be where they will be in good company - at least six t-shirts bearing Giles' Harry picture are already being worn by fans in Oz!