Senior Blues Meeting Recap: April 2024

    Update courtesy of Les Smith…

    Chairman Chris opened another well attended meeting by offering our condolences to John Rutter following the sad passing of Ann, a regular attendee at the Senior Blues before her illness.

    He then introduced Will Lamb and Steve Jones, “newish” CFU Board members who were elected some 4 months ago at the AGM.

    Will explained he had been retired from his business for around two years and reminisced about supporting Chester through the years and now wanting to give something back. His main activity is commercial development and he explained his good working relationship with Darren Court who had resigned his part time employment to take up a full time post close to his home.

    From the commercial angle, the club needed to expand its revenue streams, especially in relation to the hire of facilities. This included the use of the car park where some deals have already been concluded, including a circus and a funfair, with other events in the pipeline. Sponsorship deals have been signed for two stands whilst there is an opportunity for new Stadium sponsors. Match day hospitality was very successful and fully booked for the season. There was a drive to sell perimeter advertising boards (£1,000 for a double board) and also to maximise income from non match day events. Finally it was said that the club would be advertising for a new part time commercial manager in the near future.

    Steve Jones, who is semi retired, explained that he was delighted to have been placed in joint charge of the Academy portfolio having had many years association with Newton Athletic (Chairman) and with coach and parent education. He helped set up the Academy after reformation, with Newton Athletic youth team representing Chester FC. He informed us the Academy was in a good place though there is a move to improve the continuity from 14 to 16 year old boys. He was very keen on a coach education programme. There is a desire to improve sponsorship to reduce costs, for example annual transport costs amount to £11,000 (the fantastic contribution and support of the Senior Blues was acknowledged). He explained that any external funding we can generate will reduce the Academy costs to the Club, hence allowing a larger playing budget for the 1st team squad. There is also a move to support Mike Allcock to obtain his coaching A licence. Steve also has some responsibility for the volunteer portfolio and has a determination to see the long-standing ideal of improved facilities for disabled supporters brought to fruition, including the provision of a lift. He praised the volunteers who worked for the love of the club rather than for any reward. It was mentioned that the bad behaviour after the Brackley play off game had cost the club some £45,000+ in fines and lost revenue.

    After announcements, the ballot for Senior Blues Player of the Year and the raffle, Peter Nicholson assisted by Jill on the laptop, the owners of Gordale Garden and Home centre, gave us an interesting illustrated talk on the development of the business. Bought as a cafe with 70 covers in July 1948 for £9,250 by the Nicholson family, Gordale has expanded to be voted as the 5th best garden centre of the 250 in the Garden Centre Association with 95 full and part time employees. After a failed attempt to sell the cafe in 1952, Gordale first started selling home grown plants from the shed at the front of the family home. Over time, replacement shops were built and eventually one of the first “garden centres” came into being in 1961. Plants were bought from a persuasive Dutchman, whilst the cost of buying expensive pots was avoided by utilising (free) used food cans from Clatterbridge hospital. New greenhouses were

    built and the adjacent petrol station was purchased for £120,000 in the 1980’s. The next decade saw the building of a new shop, the sale of Christmas trees and Christmas decorations etc. After the successful introduction of garden furniture it was decided to concentrate on retail and close the cafe. However, after storing a redundant ex-Iceland ice cream machine for some considerable time, a decision to get it going one day and sell ice creams proved an inspired and profitable move. This led to the re-opening of a coffee shop business which has proved very successful. More furniture led to more warehouse space requirement and further diversity to create the all year round business Gordale is today. With a play area, a lake, and a 25 acre woodland with over 5,400 trees planted as part of a rewilding project, Gordale isn’t just a place to buy a tray of bedding plants. In fact it was featured on BBC Breakfast a week after the Senior Blues meeting (coincidence?). And we all got a coffee shop voucher too!! Thanks Peter and Jill (and thanks also for sponsoring a perimeter advertising board after the meeting).

    The Senior Blues Player of the Year and the Pete Mitchell trophy for the Academy Players’ Player of the Year presentations will take place ahead of kick off at the last home game of the season vs Darlington.

    Places are still available for the Senior Blues trip to RHS Bridgewater, Wed, 12th June: for details contact Geoff Leith on 07502615205, or email

    The last Senior Blues meeting of the 2023-24 season will be on Friday May 3rd. Guest Speakers, Jim Green Chester FC and ex Chester player Brynley Jones.