Senior Blues Meeting Recap: February 2024

    Membership of the Senior Blues for the current season is now over 100 and this was reflected in another well attended meeting.

    Prior to our first guest speaker Grenville Millington introduced Jake Carol, a 15 year old goalkeeper currently in the youth set up who is hoping to enter the Chester Academy programme. Being a distant relative as well as a fellow keeper, Gren explained that he was giving him a hand by auctioning one of his Welsh amateur international jerseys to help provide essential kit required. Jake was nerveless under pressure when “grilled” by Chairman Chris which augurs well for his future. Grenville and Jake thanked the Senior Blues for their support in allowing them to speak, and Chris wished Jake well for the future on behalf of the Senior Blues.

    Our first official guest speaker was Andy Shelton, former Chester City midfielder and now award winning bistro owner and chef. Andy was interviewed by Les Smith before taking questions from the members. Having a professional footballer as a father, Andy moved around quite a bit as a child before eventually arriving at Chester where Gary was to end his playing career before becoming Kevin Ratcliffe’s assistant. Andy spoke of the rejections he had had at several clubs because of his small size before Dave Fogg (who knew Andy from his time at Oxford United) encouraged him to give it a go at Chester where he became a member of the youth team. Andy had the misfortune to be in the first team squad at Chester over the period 1998-2000 when the Club was in the turmoil of administration and the first year of Terry Smith’s ownership.

    He made 38 appearances in all before Ian Atkins rebuilt the squad in the failed attempt to avoid relegation. Andy scored a total of 3 goals from what he estimated was an aggregate distance of about 6 yards. After relegation Graham Barrow took over as manager and informed Andy that he was not part of his plans. He eventually moved to Harrogate Town where he suffered his first ACL injury from which he never fully recovered to be able to play professionally.

    Eventually returning to Chester, Andy started working in the hospitality business (and explained he had been through some difficult personal times) until a chance opportunity arose in late 2022 for him and his partner to purchase the Naughty Badger Bistro on Bridge Street Row. A deal to buy the business for £6000 was sealed within hours and Andy and Teana got to work immediately to build what is now a multi award winning bistro. At the moment the opening hours are restricted to daytime, by being situated over a jewellers, but they are always looking at the possibility of expanding. Andy had some ideas for this but was clear that they will continue to develop the business themselves, and we all wish him the best of luck for the future. (And I can recommend his chicken and bacon toasted sandwich).

    Our second speaker was Chester Green Badge guide Steve Kirkham who gave us some fascinating facts about Chester and the City gates in the medieval era. For example the Bridgegate was a strong archway flanked by two substantial round towers on one of which was erected a octagonal water tower known as Tyrer’s Tower. This supplied lower quality River Dee water to the City until the whole was taken down in 1781. The Northgate was site of the Northgate Gaol and the pillory, and was also an execution site where visitors to the City could be met by the sight of corpses hanging from the gallows on the walls.

    In addition there was also a House of Correction by the Northgate, in the Courtyard of which a narrow space in the face of the quarry was used in the 17th Century to confine “refractory youths” in a tortured position for several hours at a time, where they could neither stand, sit, kneel or lie. This hole in the rock face was known as “Little Ease” and Steve described his efforts to find its exact location. By some clever detective work, Little Ease was eventually discovered although being adjacent to an electricity substation makes it totally inaccessible the the general public, and therefore generally unknown.

    Steve produced some equally fascinating facts about crime and punishment in the city. For example, in Anglo Saxon England, murder was punished by a fine, and theft by execution. The fines for bloodshed on certain days were 20 shillings, on other days 10s. For murder in a house—the forfeiture of lands and goods, and the party to be deemed an outlaw, for manslaughter on specified days 80s, on other days 40s.

    Unchastity in a widow was deemed worthy of a fine of 20s compared to unchastity in an unmarried woman which was clearly less outrageous carrying a fine of only 10s. Debtors were whitewashed and were lodged in the freehouse over the Gate, from where they were at liberty to attend services in St Johns Chapel, or to walk (in a whitewashed state) on the northern stretch of the walls or along Northgate Street as far as the Bull Inn. Who would have thought it? Thanks Steve.

    Geoff Leith gave details of the forthcoming trips to Hooton Park and RHS Bridgemere. Places are available and can be reserved at the next meeting.

    Next Meeting Friday March 1st. Location, the Cestrian. Time, 10.30am

    John Bithell’s Big Quiz Challenge; DC Andy Kevan, Cheshire Police will talk on the subject of Cyber Crime.