Chester v Darlington

Saturday 25th January 2020, 3pm
Vanarama National League North

Chester FC:
Swansway Chester Stadium, Bumpers Lane, Chester CH1 4LT
Tel: 01244 371376; Tweet: @ChesterFC

History: The original club was formed in 1885, elected from Cheshire County League to League Div 3N, 1931. Added City to name 1983, left Sealand Rd ground 1990. Relegated to Conference 2000, promoted 2003-2004. The old City club folded in 2010 after a period of financial problems and the usual story of dodgy ownership, we're familiar with. It was reformed by the City Fans United trust. They earned a place in the Northern Premier League Division One North to start with. Their previous season in the Conference North broke quite a few records, as they notched up 107 points in 2012/13. Their first season in National League North after relegation saw a 9th place finish.
Record Attendance: 20,500 v Chelsea FA Cup replay, 1952
Capacity: 5,376 (4,170 seats)
Last season: 9th
Honours: Old club: Conference champions 2003/2004. New club: Conference North champions: 201213; Northern Premier League Prem Div champions: 201112, Div 1 N champions: 201011
Record victory: 12-0 v York City, Div 3 N, 1 Feb 1936
Defeat: 2-11, Oldham Ath, Div3N 19 January 1952
Nicknames: Blues
Colours: Blue and White
Manager: Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley
Chairman: David Harrington-Wright

Click here for streetmap of the Chester's ground

Admission prices (2019/20 ) Prices are pegged at Adult 12; concessions (OAPs/students) 10; ages 18-21 10; ages 5-17 3 and Under 5s free. Visiting fans were given the west stand seats on our trip - so sitting in Wales, as the border crosses the pitch over towards the east stand!

Distance from Darlington 151 miles (2hr 40 mins) From the North: Take the M56 until Junction 16, the end of the motorway, and turn left at the roundabout (signs A5117, North Wales and Queensferry). After half a mile, take a left at the Little Chef roundabout onto the A540 (signposted Chester). Another 3.5 miles, take the third exit on the roundabout (signposted Queensferry A5480) onto the Deva Link road. Straight ahead at the next roundabout and by MFI Homeworks go across the crossroads into Bumpers Lane - the ground is on the right.

Parking: The club car park costs £2. But there's not a lot of room and it's not certain or advisable you will find room in the huge retail park around it. Parking is around 5 in town or restricted.

Darlington FC Supporters' Club
Coach Contact: Darlington FC Supporters Group, call 01325 250531 or 07951 434731 to book a seat.Details of the supporters' group travel can be found here. Worth noting these, as it's a long walk. If booking taxis for after the game, arrange a pick-up away from the ground, near Sealand Road, outside one of the retailers as a landmark.

Chester Private Hire: 01244 344344
Abbey Taxis: 01244 311804
Chester Radio Taxis: 01244 372372
KingKabs: 01244 343434 (NB: Don't do pick-ups after the game)

Trains: The stadium is a 2.5m walk from the station, right in the middle of a vast retail park. If you really want to walk - turn right into Station Road, follow the road left and between the Egerton Arms and Railway Inn. At the end of the street, take the underpass, taking the first exit signposted to Frodsham Street. Turn right before the bridge into Gorse Stacks, across the crossroads into Canal Street. Under the dual carriageway and at the junction, turn left (The Telford's Warehouse - DAFTS recommended pub is here on the right) and over the canal. Take a right fork into South View Road. Then at the T-junction turn right into Sealand Road. After half a mile turn left (Aldi store is on the corner) into Bumpers Lane. Walk right down to the end of the road, past various tile showrooms and a recycling depot and the ground is on the right.

Buses run from the City Centre Bus Exchange in George Street (Arriva stand F, at 18 or 48 mins past the hour), and you will need to catch the No 10A which bypasses Bumpers Lane (Get off by Tesco or Stadium Way). You will then need to walk up Bumpers Lane (0.5m) to the football ground

The official site is good with some useful travel information.

At the ground:

The Blues Bar at the front of the main stand is open to away fans, depending on the fixture. It has food including pies and sandwiches.

City centre:

Telford's Warehouse, South View Road/Tower Wharf Right in the city's canal basin and on the way to the ground, this spacious and airy pub is a nice spot, serving three or four real ales and good food (not your usual pre-match grub but worth a treat - I think I had a rabbit pie). The pub also has a canalside beer garden and small carpark and is a 20-25 minute walk to the stadium. DAFTS recommended. Click for street map

The Deva Tap, 121 Brook Street, Chester CH1 3DU
Craft beer hang-out, five minutes walk from the railway station (turn right as you leave the entrance and follow the road around), open from 12pm. Also serves food. Friendly with a very good range of beers and ciders.

The Brewery Tap, 52-54 Gamul House, Lower Bridge Street
Real ale pub in historic building, owned by the award-winning Spitting Feathers brewery. It serves its own ales, naturally, such as like Old Wavertonian and Devastation. Also serves food, with fresh ingredients supplied from the farm, where the brewery is based. The building was part of a townhouse, where King Charles I stayed after the Civil War battle of Rowton Moor.

The Albion Inn, Albion Street
Close to the city wall (and Roman ampitheatre), this is a traditional pub in a neat, characterful terrace, within 10 minutes walk of the station. It had two ales on, when we visited, and some lovely home-cooked food. There are signs deterring stags, hens and pub crawlers, but friendly and perfect for a quiet pint and to look at the WW1 and period memorabilia across the different rooms.

Watergate Inn, 10 Watergate Square, off Sealand Road Pub near the racecourse.Click for streetmap

Mill Hotel, Milton Street
A dark real ale lounge bar inside a canalside hotel, with more than a dozen guest ales (a few were off on our visit but this is a minor quibble, as there were still plenty of choice and they were very reasonably priced). Despite looking out onto the canal, there is no terrace or beer garden, but inside it does Sky TV, plus food. Not far from the station, less than 10 minutes walk - turn right onto the towpath at the canal bridge and it's a short walk. Rooms at the hotel cost between 73-95 a night, single/double B&B: 01244-350035 Click for streetmap

There is also an away fans' pub crawl suggested by some real ale buffs, while it's also the weekend of the Manchester Beer Festival, which might interest some DAFTS too.

To eat, apart from the suggested pubs, there is also a fish and chip shop on Sealand Road on the way to the Watergate Inn. At the ground, it was a pretty good and reasonably-priced rang of food, snacks and hot drinks, including the "Chester Pie," hot dogs and tea and coffee for 1-1.50, plus Bovril.