What was billed as Chester’s biggest game of the season between two old Football League rivals both gunning for promotion quickly for Chester fans became a major anti-climax.

Stockport County, with its large, noisy and raucous support, somehow managed to make this game look like a top versus bottom encounter rather than the top of the table clash it was billed as.   By the end of the match the Chester ends were almost empty while the 1,100 fans of Stockport (600 in the South Stand and 500 in the Swettenham Chemists Community Stan) stood to applaud the visitors who had ran out 6-0 winners.

Chester vs. Stockport County

Chester Deva Stadium

National League North

Tuesday 9th April 2019

Few cities in England match up to the delights of Chester.  The best preserved walled city in England, its medieval walls form the most complete circuit around any town or city in England.

Chester was founded as a Roman fort in the year 79 and was known as Deva. It was one of the three major Roman army bases in England.   After the Romans withdrew circa AD400, the prosperous city fell prey to marauding Danes and Saxons and was virtually derelict by 900.  The Normans reached Chester circa 1070 and a revival began turning the city into a thriving port and important strategic outpost of England.

Today it is a city of 120,000 but during the summer of 2009 Chester City FC was placed into the hands of administrators with debts of almost £7 million.

While such a move can often work in a clubs favour in terms of clearing the decks things for Chester only got worse.   In 2010, Chester City failed to fulfill a fixture with players refusing to play following non-payment of wages.  Crowds were also falling rapidly.  Just days later the Football Conference suspended Chester for seven days, during which time their fixtures were suspended.

With other clubs demanding the clubs removal from the league the club were expelled midway through the 2010-11 season with results for the season expunged from the records.

Such is the location of Chester (on the border between Wales and England) the club submitted an application to join the Welsh Premier League but upon the failure of this application the club was formally wound up in the High Court but fans of the club acted quickly.

On the 25th March 2010 it was announced that a new club would be called Chester F.C., and would play at the old club’s Deva Stadium.   The club began playing in July 2010 in time for the 2010–11 season, and was placed in Northern Premier League Division One North, three tiers below on the league ladder where Chester City had been prior to their collapse.

Successive promotions have taken Chester F.C. back to the position from where they came – namely the Conference league or as it is currently known the National League set up.

The Deva Stadium

Build as a result of the Taylor Report the stadium hosted its first game in 1992 when Chester lost 2–1 in the League Cup tie to Stockport County.  The Deva had replaced the clubs old Sealand Road ground and 11 days later, Chester beat Burnley 3–0 in the first Football League match on the ground.

But while Burnley have gone onto enjoy huge success in the top tier Chester have struggled on and off the pitch at the Deva.

In subsequent years the ground has been known by a number of names including the Saunders Honda Stadium, the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium, Swansway Chester Stadium and the Cestrian Trading stadium.  But the true quirky nature of the Deva stadium lies in its locality amidst the Sealand Road Industrial Estate.

The ground lies on the border between England and Wales; with the border running along the rear of the east stand (the main stand) and the playing pitch itself lying over the border in Flintshire.   However, the address of the ground is officially classed as England due to the main entrance of the stadium being in England.

While it wasn’t cross border rivals Wrexham who had come to conquer, Chester were blown away by a brilliantly ruthless Stockport County side after a first half riddled with errors from the hosts left the game all but over come the half time break.

Chester, three points off the play-off places, needed the spoils to keep themselves in the hunt for promotion with just four games of the season remaining after tonight’s encounter.

Jim Gannon’s Stockport, on the other hand, knew that a win over Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s Chester side would take them to the summit of the division, leapfrogging fellow hopefuls Chorley in the process.

With the home side struggling to take the game to the visitors, Stockport County took the lead through Nyan Bell this being followed by two more goals from Walker and another from Bell before Half time.

With the second half a non-event for the home side Stockport added another three strikes before the final whistle including a penalty from Walker just two minutes from time.

One of the most traditional lower league clubs in the Greater Manchester area season 2018-19 has been a great success for County.  The club managed to reach the 2nd round of the FA Cup, beating League Two side Yeovil Town 3-1 at Huish Park in before succumbing to Barnet in London in early December.   County then went on a 23-match unbeaten run in all competitions, reaching the FA Trophy Semi-Finals for the first time, losing 3-2 on aggregate to National League high-flyers AFC Fylde after two fiercely fought matches.
The win over Chester did not secure promotion back to National League for the club known as the Hatters but the club now managed by Jim Gannon moved a step closer to climbing back to the Football league after such a convincing win.

Chester: Shenton, Waters, Jackson, Grand, Livesey, McAllister, Roberts, McKenna (Waring 53), Mahon, Asante (Mooney 71), Dudley (Howson 54).

Stockport County: Hinchcliffe, Minihan (Cowan 60), Duxbury, Turnbull, Palmer, Stott, Thomas, Walker, Bell (Osborne 79), Warburton (Keane 55), Stephenson.

Goals: Bell 10 & 34, Walker 20 & 82 (pen), Stephenson 69, Keane 88.

Referee: James Bell.

Attendance: 2,565