Wednesday, 12 December 2007
A wing-half, former underground surveyor Hauser made 83 Football League appearances (scoring 10 goals) for Blackpool between 1955 and 1962, before dropping out of professional football and joining Cheltenham Town.
Following the departure of Bill Lambton, 29-year-old Hauser took over as manager of Chester shortly before the 1963-64 season got underway. Chester had endured very little success since the Second World War but Hauser set about improving the club's fortunes. A mid-table finish in Division Four in his first season represented progress after three successive re-election applications, before steering the club through an amazing 1964-65. The club scored 119 league goals and a further 22 in the two main cup competitions, with all five regular forwards scoring at least 20. Hauser was a regular throughout the season, which saw Chester finish just 8th despite their goal glitz.
The 1965-66 campaign saw Chester finish 7th, after looking favourites for promotion before full back namesakes Ray and Bryn Jones both suffered broken legs against Aldershot on New Year's Day. Chester's fortunes began to decline after this and, after struggling in 1966-67 (after which Hauser stopped playing), things got worse a year later. A home defeat to fellow strugglers Workington on February 17, 1968 brought to an end Hauser's five years in charge, and his association with professional football in England.
After leaving Chester, Hauser returned to South Africa to resume his underground surveying career.
Friday, 7 December 2007
Supporters came from 36 clubs to extend the hand of friendship to Chester, yet another football club to feel the cold breath of financial crisis. They descended on the Deva Stadium for a "Fans United" day and were rewarded with a decent game more in keeping with English football than any European super league match. Typically, Brighton sneaked an undeserved point in a 1-1 draw with Paul Armstrong's injury time penalty, cancelling out Mike Conroy's first half goal.
In the season of Pierre van Hooijdonk and Paolo Di Canio, the camaraderie among almost 4,000 supporters was mightily reassuring to witness. Both clubs' MPs were there and Satelite broadcasters Sky TV turned up to beam events to the nation. Unfortunately, the game's paymaster's commitment to the lower divisions did not extend to installing a satellite dish for the evening, so the sponsors were treated to Vets in Practice. Even that represented an improvement: earlier this season all Chester's television sets were repossessed.
'Fans United' was a Brighton idea eagerly adopted by the Chester City Independent Supporters Association. Two years earlier, there was a real possibility that the club would disappear altogether. Last year, ailing Doncaster were involved as they sped out of the professional game. This time round, there is no danger of either club playing in the Conference in the next season although doubts persist about Chester's ability to function at all. The link between all three is chronic mismanagement behind the scenes.
Stories of Chester's financial embarrassment are legion but perhaps none typifies both the dire straits the club found itself in and its capacity to survive than manager Kevin Ratcliffe paying £5,000 out of his own pocket to have the water re-connected so the club could play Everton in a high profile pre-season friendly match.
The club remained in administration at the time and supporters' spokesman, who was to become club secretary, Michael Fair is scathing about former chairman Mark Gutterman's contribution: "people are taking control of football clubs who aren't competent to do it. Football isn't an ordinary business, it is part of the community. All we have had is someone with no connection with Chester coming in, promising the earth and delivering absolutely nothing."
At half time a 100 metre scarf - comprising the colours of all 92 league clubs - was paraded around the stadium to the strains of Canned Heat's Let's Work Together. With Portsmouth fans planning to lay a coffin outside the gates of Fratton Park today and Kenneth Richardson, Doncaster's self styled benefactor, in court this month for conspiracy to burn down his own grandstand, these were and continue to be grim times for supporters somewhere. Twas ever thus: Northampton and Bournemouth, have almost withered on the vine in recent years and supporters with an unblinkered view fear the domino effect: when one goes under, a dozen follow.
Christine Russell, Chester's Labour MP, praised fans for their attempts to preserve the club, "The CCISA have done more to raise the profile of Chester Football Club in a few short months than others have done in the 25 years that I have lived in the city." Chester's spirited display certainly merited a win. Their goal, direct from a Brighton corner, was a cracker. Alex Smith, a pacy left back, picked up a clearance in his own half and kept on running, Goalkeper Mark Ormerod parried his initial shot but Conroy, on loan from Blackpool, tapped in. The equaliser was cruel in its timing and hotly disputed, referee Peter Walton punishing Martyn Lancaster's challenge on Jamie Moralee with a penalty. Paul Armstrong scored his first senior goal with commendable coolness.
David Felgate leads me down the Hilton Park tunnel from the home team dressing room, past the kit room and out on the terracing so that we can talk in peace on a dark September night. It is no more than a few yards but takes a matter of minutes, so much is he still in demand in football. He pauses to catch a word with a Leigh player along with his old friends from the Deva Stadium. His interest in happenings at the Deva are still evident as he listens to the words of Gordon Hill in a post match press conference and asks me what was going on.
The strong figure of the former Welsh International goalkeeper has won many friends and plaudits over many years, his desire to give his all with a philosophy of good fortune has created a goalkeeper who is refreshingly not just another footballer motivated by financial greed. For David considers himself lucky to have even played professional football: "I was fortunate. When I first started in the game. I was at a place called St Asaph in North Wales. I was placed to play for a team in St Asaph, St Asaph City boys at the time and I was lucky because there was an Everton scout there who actually saw me play. He took a chance on me to go down to Everton to the Bellefield Training Ground to play and I enjoyed it. I was about fourteen or fifteen at the time but there was nothing there for me. There were too many players comings, it's a big club at Everton so I asked to get released."
Where many a player simply fall out of football at this stage, Felgate did totally the opposite, catching the attention of several clubs. "A Bolton Wanderers scout came out of the blue and the day I asked to get released at Everton, he came knocking on the door. About two days later, I went to Bolton and played against Blackburn at Accrington Stanley's ground and then three days later I played at Old Trafford in front of fifteen thousand in a youth game. So I was catapulted into the big time."
David went on to become a loyal servant to Bolton Wanderers, the club that gave him his first big chance. A full nine years were spent at Burnden Park and in that time the big Welshman was just happy to be a part of the team. A refreshing change from football as we know today where multi-million pound contracts and sponsorship deals are sought by the bigger names in football. "To be honest, it was a completely different ball game all together when I was at Bolton. I was just so desperate to play. I was given an opportunity to play and I thanked everybody for giving me the chance to play. Hopefully, I was blessed with a little bit of skill because I think the average term of a goalkeeper or an ordinary footballer is around four or five years and then they went out of the game, into the non leagues and whatever. I was lucky, I think I've been playing for almost nineteen maybe twenty years now, so I was fortunate", explained Felgate.
"The money wasn't fabulous. I think I left Bolton Wanderers when the money was starting to get better. It was just down to timing and I lacked it. I've never looked back and thought ooh, if only, because if you start doing things like that, it's pointless doing it. The players who are getting the money must be decent. The Beckham's, Scholes and the Owen's and whatever, they obviously deserve it. At the end of the day, it's an entertainment business, even if you're playing non league in the conference. When I played in the league I always tried to entertain the crowd. When I was at Chester City I used to have a great rapport with the supporters simply because at the end of the day, I think they pay the wages and you've got to give something back. "
Felgate continued: "Sometimes some people don't realise, some players are money orientated at times and I think that's down to, not the greed of the players because I think they only give them what the clubs say well listen you're worth £20,000 this week we're going to pay you that. I never even got anywhere near that but like I say, my goal was just to play."
The Welshman's talent was soon recognised and David recalls the ultimate highlight of his career. "It would have to be the time I spent in the Welsh squad. When I got my first Welsh international cap and my only international cap. But at that time I was cover to Dai Davies and then Neville Southall, that was a good time and obviously my two visits to Wembley with Bolton. There are a lot of players who have never made it into the twin towers. I was fortunate to play, we won one and got beat once." Sadly for David, he only experienced his international dreams turn into reality the once, always playing in the shadow of legendary Welsh goalkeeper Neville Southall.
And then the time came for Felgate to leave Burnden Park onto pastures new. "The funny thing about it was, I left Bolton Wanderers after nine years with them and I went to Wolverhampton Wanderers. But I heard that Graham Barrow had been interested at the time. I went for a month to Wolves and enjoyed it. The manager at the time was Graham Turner and he was fabulous with me. But I heard that unfortunately Billy Stewart got an injury and I came simply because I wanted to keep playing. I didn't want to sit in any reserves and play on a Wednesday night in front two hundred people, I just wanted to play and Graham gave me that opportunity."
Felgate enthused: "I tried to repay that back to the supporters and to the people of Chester at the time. I enjoyed it, I thought it was a great club. I really enjoyed it, a friendly atmosphere, a great crowd and a kind of close knit community. That's what the lads realised about the place and it's saddening to see the situation Chester have found themselves in. I always look for their results, I read to non-league papers and when they got relegated from the league, it was sad for me. I moped around for a couple of weeks, I just couldn't believe it. "
Felgate recalled: "There were a lot of good people at Chester. Ooooh! And loads of great memories. I mean, Graham Barrow won't like me saying this, he basically threatened me a few times because when they used to play the ball back to me, I used to try and dummy the centre forward going to shoot on my right foot and then bring it in. I did it once cut inside and then I went down on my left side, managed to clear it on my left side, the forward ran across me and I cut back inside. I think we just managed to get away with it. To be honest I think Graham was just going to throttle me if I'd have done it again like."
"But I used to do it because I thought the crowd wanted to be entertained and I used to get bored, you know if the ball would be up the other side of the pitch. I used to have a laugh and a joke with people, like I said I think it's an entertainment business no matter where you are and I think the crowd deserve to be entertained. Even if the ball would be out of play at the other end of the pitch you are always interacting with the crowd and I think that was always important."
"At Chester, it was great because Billy Stewart was like a local hero, he'd been there years and he'd done really well for them. It was a little bit difficult at first. I remember the first game I played for Chester, was against Wigan Athletic. I remember going over on the Friday morning and I said to Mark Came, what's the defence like? He went fabulous, solid as a rock and then we got beat six three. I turned around to him in the dressing room and said to him, what the hell have you let me into here! He went, no! We'll get better. And in truth we did and we got promoted and I'm thinking to myself yeah, what's going on here. I remember Wigan playing and cutting us up into pieces. But that's how it was, the lads stick together there and no matter how big the club is, if you always stick together you'll find success."
Constructed in what must have been record time, there were doubts about weather or not Chester's new stadium would ever get built. As the club abandoned Sealand Road at the end of the 1989/90 season the following two years were spent in exile. The club took advantage of the Cheshire County F.A. training facilities in Moss Farm on the outskirts of Northwich and played there home games some forty miles away from the city at Macclesfield's Moss Rose ground. Attempts were made to play home games closer to home, with possible spells at Tranmere's Prenton Park and Wrexham's Racecourse Ground investigated, but in both cases the local authorities stepped in preventing such moves from taking place.
Speaking through his match programme notes for Chester's first league game at the Deva Stadium, chairman Ray Crofts described how surprised he was at the speed of the stadium construction. He said: "Morison Shand Construction have completed the stadium in an amazing thirty weeks and produced a home that Chester City Football Club and the people of Chester can be proud of. The local authorities, Police and Fire Brigade have all contributed to the successful completion of the ground and I am grateful to them all for all their help and co-operation."
On the afternoon of Tuesday 28th January 1992 history was made when the first turf was cut at a specially prepared ceremony on the site of Chester City's new home, later to be named the Deva Stadium following a naming competition run by the club through the local press. There were many worrying months for city fans prior to the ceremony as they were anxiously awaiting forms of evidence that their club was to finally return to the city following that testing time in exile across the County of Cheshire in Macclesfield. Ray Crofts continued: "The opening of the stadium brings to an end many months of anxiety not only for myself but for everyone concerned with the Club. It is a fitting tribute to all those people concerned with the club that we have such an excellent stadium back within the City of Chester."
The Deva was to be the first stadium in the country to comply with all the rules and regulations (the Taylor report) which were set out in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Tragedy. These features include special disabled spaces on both sides of the ground, automatic turnstyles and exits as well as all other safety features that are needed to meet the Taylor Report requirements.
It is unclear what the total capacity of the ground is, some sources report the grand capacity as being around 6,000 whilst others say it is actually less at approximately around 5,800. What is for sure the total seating available is 3,400, all of which is fully covered. However, City fans were just delighted to be back in the City after a long period of uncertainty surrounding the future of the football club. Chairman Crofts paid tribute to those loyal supporters who stuck by the club during its time in exile away from the City. He said: "I would like to thank our loyal fans for their support over the two seasons at Macclesfield and hope that together we will enjoy success on our return to Chester."
Completed just in time for the start of the new 1992/93 season, the Deva Stadium was officially opened on 24 August 1992 by The Rt Hon Lord Aberdare KBE, then chairman of the Football Trust. The players stepped out to a rapturous home coming in front of a carnival atmosphere at the first ever game to be hosted at Deva Stadium. Sadly though, that first season at the Deva turned out to be a complete disaster. On the pitch, Chester City spiralled out of control, Harry McNally's managerial career came to an end and by the time May 1993 came around the club dropped out of the second division for the first time since 1986.
Being a football supporter really comes into its own when wearing a scarf becomes a neccessity and not just a retro fashion statement. Huddled in the festive fug recalling those pre-Christmas stuffings and horrendous Boxing Day away trips, the season's midpoint evokes a curiosly Dunkirk spirit. Warmed within by those stick top-shelf tipples that only get uncorked at Christmas time, and stoic in the knowledge that a few more months of frozen foot standing and damp floodlip afternoons remain to come. The holiday tans and unfeasible optimism of August seem a very long time ago indeed.
But it could be so much worse. Just spare a though for the groundsmen at football grounds all over the country whose job it is to prepare their clubs playing surface for the next game. Here at Chester, as a season draws to a close preparations are already underway to make sure the Deva Stadium playing surface is ready for the new term. City groundsman Gary Kent has been with Chester City Football Club for years. His vast experience in ground maintenance is a asset the club are proud of.
Gary and his team start working to revamp the pitch as soon as the final fixture is completed. With each year that passes, this seems to become a more a more difficult task to complete. Close season breaks are becoming increasingly shorter and shorter and Gary has to bear in the mind, the pitch needs to be ready for the possibility of pre season friendlies being played on it as early on as July.
The company that laid the present Deva Stadium playing surface in 1992 also supplied the playing surface at Liverpools Anfield Road stadium. The similarities end there though as Liverpool have had their pitch renewed on at least three occasions since 1992 whilst the Deva Stadium pitch remains in its original form. The process of preparing the playing surface is painstakingly time consuming.
One of Gary's many tasks include brushing seventy tonnes of sand across the playing surface that has then to be drag matted to ensure the surface level. There are parts of the Deva pitch which suffer from drainage problems and all have to be carefully nurtured to allow those areas to be capable of withstanding the trials of the coming season equally. Reseeding takes place late on in the process and needs to be carefully planned at the correct time in order for the surface to be ready as required for the opening fixtures of a new campaign.
Playing throughout the season generates a heavy wear to the surface. During half time and full time on a match day the ground staff can be seen carrying out minor repairs before a full scale repair operation is undertaken the following day. Gary Kent's team will work as required to keep the pitch in playable condition and this will include a seven day week if the weather dictates it to be required. Gary said: "The pitch needs to be rolled and in particular we have to have the pitch level before a frost or freeze makes the pitch impossible to work on."The current Deva Stadium pitch is rolled with a large industrial sized lawn mower that can take a long time to complete. All other pitch requirements are completed by hand in a more traditional manner and therefore top of Gary's shopping wish list is a compact tractor to allow the work to be completed in a much shorter space of time. Gary contined: "The tractor will allow other attachments to be pulled across the surface and will allow several jobs to be done quickly and that is something we don't have at present."
Throughout the course of a campaign, the Deva Stadium pitch can take quite a battering from the full programme of first team matches, reserve games and squad training. Gary highlighted the goal areas as a particularly difficult area of the field to maintain. Training can mean the pitch suffers from damage to one area only and a morning's squad training can do more damage to the pitch than a full ninety minute football match bearing the same conditions. Despite taking such heavy usage Gary is proud of his pitch. "There are worse pitches around than ours" muses Gary "but my concern is that the Deva pitch holds out for the rest of the season and all fixtures are completed on time for the season's end in May."
Walking me down the Deva tunnel, through the blue double doors and into the East Stand, the former Everton youngster sat me down on one of the blue seats with a beaming smile clearly pleased to be back at the Deva. Just as we were about to begin our conversation a distant "Hey Jenks! How ya doing?" could be heard echoing from the voice of our approaching groundsman, Gary Kent. When the Deva is empty it has a strange ghostly echo and feel, but that didn't prevent Gary Kent from reminiscing over previous years with 'Jenks'.
His popularity within the club is there for all to see and will no doubt become a favoured signing by Steve Mungall. Iain explained to me how he became a Chester player for the second time: "I found out that the gaffer here was interested in bringing me back to Chester. I was on a free transfer in the summer and they wanted to get the deal wrapped up as soon as they could. I was quite interested in coming back as well because I know a lot about the club, I was skipper here, won promotion here and got relegated here so I know a lot about the club and I was only too pleased to come back."
But whilst making his comeback debut with the Blues, Iain must have had a bit of shock in the first half when Chester found the going tough against a well organised Morecambe outfit. Iain said: "It was a bit of a battle for the first twenty minutes, there was not much football played. In the second half, I think we showed that we played the better football. We got at them a little bit more and then with the standard of football in the second half, there's really not much difference from the Conference and a Third Division. As you said in the first half it was a bit of a shock for the first twenty minutes, everyone just kept lumping the ball forward and then when we did get the ball down and played we looked the better side. In the end I quite enjoyed the game."
Having made well over a hundred and sixty appearances for the Blues last time round, Iain has many great memories about his first spell around the Deva Stadium. He points to two key highlights that surround the great promotion season under boss Graham Barrow. Iain explained: "There are two highlights for me. The first year I signed here we got promoted and I every single game and the second would be when I became the skipper of the side. I made forty five appearances as skipper. I've had some really really good times here, more good times than bad times and hopefully we can have more good times and start pushing ourselves back up into the league."
Iain has seen a plethora of great characters around the club and was only too willing to begin sharing comic stories about those former colleagues of his. "Eddie Bishop used to bring funny videos on the coaches, he was just crazy. As we are sat here now, behind us is the sponsors box and he had a bet that he could smash the window with the ball when we're training. Mike Pejic was boss at the time and when he did smash the window with the ball everywhere went dead quiet. That's just eddie for you! There's a few good characters around the club now, but it's a young team, a very young team and that's only good for us because if we do survive this year as I think we will they can only get better. Steve Mungall is a getting good side together and he wants a few more signings and the youngsters can only get better."
Iain begun his football career at Goodison Park, signing on as a trainee. During that time, he begun to force himself into the first team making three full starts and two substitute appearances in football's top flight during his two season stint with the toffee men. "I started at Everton, but I was a professional swimmer first. I had a chance of going swimming or football and I had to make that choice, so I started my career at Everton and went to football. I broke my ancle on my debut, and only made another handful of appearances for Everton in the first team. Then I went across to Bradford City on loan, then signed for Chester City, spent five great years around here and then got a £200,000 move to Dundee United. Seven caps for Northern Ireland and that was a great experience going away around the world with the International side."
But the Northern Ireland International had a tough time with injury problems since he joined United from Chester in March 1998. A permanent fixture at left back in Chester's play off campaign of 1996-97, Jenkins talent was spotted and he subsequently made the move north of the border to Tannadice. However, the defender played just four times under then manager Paul Sturrock, mainly due to a niggling back injury, and had found it difficult to get back to full fitness. After a nightmare ten months he was ready to make his comeback in a pre-season friendly against Irish outfit Longford in July 1999, but went over on his ankle, further delaying his comeback preparations. When he regained full fitness he challenged for a permanent first team place but at the end of the 1999/2000 season he found himself out of favour and return to join up again with manager Kevin Ratcliffe, this time with Shrewsbury Town. "I worked my way to Shrewsbury and then back home to my native Chester. In footballing terms I'm still only young, I'm only twenty nine so hopefully, I think I've got another five or six years to offer the club. The way I felt on the pitch today was fine so hopefully things are looking up."
And Iain will be glad to get a full ninety minutes under his belt, especially having had such a torrid time with injuries over the last four or five years. "I hope I've put injuries behind me now. I don't want to see a treatment table ever again! I've been unlucky with injuries at times but hopefully they are all behind me now and as you've seen today I've been running around injury free, there's no problems with the way I run or tackle. I'll be taking one game at a time but I want to play every single game I can for Chester City."
Now Iain is looking forward to the difficult task ahead with Chester City, he firmly believes the quality of football isn't that far off the third division and that didn't give Iain any doubts when he considered dropping out of the football league. "I don't think there's much difference between the Conference and Third Division. I have dropped down to the Conference as I need and want to be playing first team football. Because of the injuries I've had people will look at Iain Jenkins and say 'oh he's been injured'. But I'm happy to prove a few people wrong by playing week in and week out. I know I'm not guaranteed first team football, nobody ever is, but I have that chance rather than going somewhere and sitting on the bench."
Many people will be pleased to see Iain Jenkins return to the Deva Stadium, non more so than Chester City manager Steve Mungall who was delighted to capture the defender. When announcing the signing, Mungall said: "Iain is an experienced player, he's a good defender, has two good feet, and he's a good talker." That'll be exactly what struggling Chester will need if they are to stave off the threat of relegation from the Nationwide Conference, and as Iain concluded our conversation, he thinks Chester have a good future. "No problem, yeah definitely. From what I've seen all week and the way we've shown we can play in the second half today, almost definitely."
The non league equivalent of the FA Charity Shield, the JC Thompson Shield was first contested by Chester City in its twenty first season of competition. That season, 2001-2002, the contest reverted to its original format of being played between the Conference League Champions and the winners of the Conference League Cup. Since 1988, a change to the competition format was administered as it was decided the Conference Champions were to take on the FA Trophy Winners.
Upon approach to Rushden & Diamonds impressive home, Nene Park, you immediately get the feel for the huge financial backing that benefactor Max Griggs has invested into this small town Northamptonshire club. After eleven years, Rushden, now in the nationwide football league have facilities that would be the envy of any a great club. Whilst walking around the perimeter of the stadium, Chester Chronicle sports reporter Ian Bedford summed it all up, "It's just like the Premiership in miniature" he said as we strolled around in awe of Rushden's growing empire.
Just 934 people braved the icy cold November conditions to see this low key challenge for the silverware with Chester performing in front of 41 dedicated travelling City supporters. Those inside the stadium saw a strong Rushden & Diamonds side pushed all the way by a spirited Chester City outfit before finally winning the Nationwide Conference Shield after a penalty shoot-out.
Gary Williams gave Chester an interval lead with a 33rd minute strike from the edge of the penalty area but Brian Talbot's side snatched an equaliser seven minutes into the second half. The manager's son, Daniel, turned home Scott Partridge's cross as Chester keeper Wayne Brown struggled to reach the strike.
However, last season's Nationwide Conference champions were only level for five minutes as Mark Beesley restored Chester's lead with a great 25-yard curler that flew past on Tony Pennock in the Diamonds goal. Rushden equalised for the second time midway through the second half when Jim Rodwell heading home from close range and that was how it stayed for the remainder of normal time and the whole of extra-time.
In a dramatic penalty shoot-out Chester had the initial advantage when Talbot had Diamonds' first penalty saved but Chris Blackburn saw his effort saved and Michael Rose missed the target to ensure Diamonds clinched their first piece of silverware as a Football League Club. A very short presentation followed the shoot out which most of the 937 crowd avoided as the icy cold weather tightened its grip on the evening.
In his post match press conference, a bitterly disappointed Blues Boss Steve Mungall shared the players disappointment at falling at the final hurdle: "I feel for the boys obviously. They matched Rushden and in the end we finished the stronger at extra time. All credit to them, I spoke to the lads before the game and about the Jeckle and Hyde team we have got and it is to stop and they more than proved it that they can do it and I won't accept any more Jeckle and Hyde performances from them. They have proven they can play for ninety minutes and even through extra time, so I feel gutted for them and for the fans. It would have been nice to take a trophy home for them and obviously for the chairman."
Mungall contined: "I was pleased with a lot of things that happened in the game, and there's a few little things that we can pick up on but overall I was pleased with the way the boys went about the game and we were very unfortunate not to take anything away from it."
13 November 2001
|JC Thompson Championship Shield Roll of Honour|
|1989||Maidstone United||Telford United|
|1992||Wycombe Wanderers||Colchester United|
|1993||Wycombe Wanderers||Northwich Victoria|
|1996||Macclesfield Town||Stevenage Borough|
|1998||Halifax Town||Cheltenham Town|
|2001||Rushden & Diamonds||Chester City|