Monday, 1 November 2010

Chester FC vs Lancaster City

One of the silver linings to the cloud of having dropped several divisions is that we get to meet teams we either haven't met before, or haven't met in meaningful competition for many years. Today we welcome Lancaster, and whilst I accept that for many of us this is only significant in that they are the team from whom we signed Roger Sharrock, and the city through which we drove to Morecambe on several occasions, the game is of particular interest to me as Lancaster is my adoptive home.

Regrettably, in four years, I have only managed to see Lancaster City FC play once. The one thing about them which I particularly love is the contradiction between their ground name and nickname. The imposing and frankly frightening "Giant Axe" stadium plays home to the rather less intimidating "Dolly Blues".  It's a paradox akin to discovering that Freddie Krueger collects Beanie Babies.

If the football on display in that game I witnessed last season is anything to by which to go, however, then we should certainly be expecting the intimidating side of things.  I watched as Lancaster, and in particular winger Paul Jarvis, laid waste to Trafford in a 2-1 victory which massively flattered the away side.  Hopefully, Lancaster play with the same attacking spirit (and lack of fortune in front of goal) today.  I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little tired of teams turning up here at the Exacta and putting ten men behind the ball.  I'd like to see a free-flowing match, if only because I feel it would suit us a whole lot more.  So bring it on, Lancaster - let's have a proper game.

Anyway - given that it's always nice for away fans to have a feature on their club, and given that I can't offer any insight into their team that hasn't been covered elsewhere in the programme, in an
attempt to paint a picture of the city that we'll be visiting in the New Year, allow me to list some of the things about Lancaster that I adore;

1. The Stonewell Tavern
Not merely for being the first pub in years to pay me to play music there, and not merely for being the only pub where I've ever known the landlord to leave punters waiting at the bar whilst he plays a ten-minute spot at the open mic night, but because its blend of eccentricity, Italian lager, local ales and live music make it possibly my all-time favourite place to drink.  I recommend it to all travelling Chester fans.  Other public houses worthy of your custom include (though not exclusively) The White Cross, The Merchants, The Gregson Centre (which also boasts an excellent cricket team), The John O'Gaunt and The Friary.  So yeah, make a day of it.

2. I once saw someone walking a fox in the city centre.
Fairly self-explanatory.

3. The commitment to combating climate change.

Lancaster's one-way system is cleverly crafted to make driving the most stressful and irritating experience possible, thus forcing many to make the rational decision either to walk to work, or to just sleep at the office to avoid even having to see the roads.

4. No-one's ever burgled my house.
You tend to take these things for granted, but I do appreciate it.

5. The fact that no-one ever seems to leave for very long
There seems to be a magnetism about the place which makes it impossible to leave once you've lived there.  This is also a policy implemented by the Hotel California.

To conclude - welcome, Lancaster.  I love the city, but I hope your football team is soundly beaten today.

Come on Chester!

Jon Hughes

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