"An outstanding professional" were the words of Graham Barrow when I ask him about his experienced centre back, Paul Beesley last season. Harshly treated by Chester's American owner Terry Smith, former Leeds United and Manchester City player Paul Beesley was given a torrid time whilst astutely assisting manager Graham Barrow through Chester's first season in non-league obscurity.
Voted Player of the Season for 2000/2001, the supporters recognised his true value, he was a pleasure to watch, enthusiastically organising Chester's back line. The former top flight defender's efforts went a long way towards helping Chester City proudly sport the lowest goals against record in the Conference that season. That was until Terry Smith stood in, upset the management team and assigned the defender to scouting trips away from the first team action Beesley so richly deserved.
The veteran defender, though to be one of the most commanding ever to play for Chester, was banned from playing for the first team at the end of the 2000/2001 season because former owner Terry Smith accused him of standing in the wrong position at a corner against Canvey Island in an FA Trophy Semi Final. "I've put all that behind me and now i'm doing what I want to do - play football", said Beesley. "Everyone knows the problems I had with Terry Smith. It was a terrible time for me. What he did was unexplainable. But that's gone now. I'm playing football and i'm enjoying it."
Paul Beesley had been around professional football for eighteen years but has lost none of his appetite for the game, despite being later dismissed by Smith. "To him (Terry Smith) finishing eigth in the league was deemed as failure." explained Joe Hinnigan, who later returned back to the Deva Stadium under invitation from new owner Stephen Vaughan. Now with Nationwide Conference newcomers Stalybridge Celtic, centre half Paul Beesley has been outstanding, according to his current manager Paul Futcher. The defender was described as being in a different class during Celtic's magnificent 2-1 win against league leaders Boston United and his normally reserved manager paid a glowing tribute to the 36-year-old.
"Paul Beesley has been magnificent all season," beamed Futcher. "He has an outstanding presence, good organising skills and a sure touch. He is a good talker as well as a good example to the other players - an all-round proper professional. When I was the player/manager at Southport I like to think I did a similar thing although I was older than Paul. But you need someone like him on the park - he's worth his weight."
Beelsey concluded: "I'll be 37 in the summer and at my age you have to treat every game as if it's your last. We've got a good little side at Stalybridge Celtic and it's handy for me living only 40 minutes away from the ground. Coming to Stalybridge after what happened in the last few months at Chester has been like a breath of fresh air."