Our summer study of the teams who will form the opposition for Pools in 2017/18 continues as we make a trip to Cheshire.
Nickname: The Blues
Colours: Blue & White Stripes/White/Blue
Who’s in charge?
Chester boss Jon McCarthy had a successful playing career during which he made over 400 senior appearances for the likes of York City, Port Vale and Birmingham City and also represented Northern Ireland on 18 occasions.
The one-time winger also has the dubious honour of having had one of the briefest Pools’ careers in history having come on as a substitute in our game against Hereford United in 1988 in what turned out to be his only appearance.
Middlesbrough-born McCarthy was appointed as First Team Coach at Chester under Steve Burr in January 2014 but was given caretaker charge in April 2016 and guided the team to National League safety after securing three wins and was then handed the role on a permanent basis.
How did they get on last season?
Chester just about steered clear of relegation to National League North last term after a dreadful run of form at the end of the season saw them dragged towards the danger zone.
Things looked fairly solid when they won 1-0 at Torquay United at the start of April to move 13th in the table but they then lost their remaining six games and ended up staying up by two points.
However, it shouldn’t be ignored that Chester have enjoyed a brilliant rise since re-forming in 2010 – they’ve since won promotion three times to reach the National League.
When did we last meet?
It was back in March 2007 when the sides last met and promotion-bound Pools ran out 3-0 winners at The Vic thanks to goals from Richard Barker, Andy Monkhouse and Ben Clark.
The two clubs have been regular opponents over the years and have already met 101 times in competitive action in the past, with Chester boasting 44 wins in comparison to Pools’ 34.
However, Pools’ recent record against Chester is good – we’ve lost just twice in the last 12 games between the teams.
Where do they play?
Chester were granted permission to return to The Deva Stadium in 2010 having previously played there as Chester City when it was first built back in 1992. It holds just under 6,000 supporters.
When do we play them?
The National League fixtures are due to be released at 1pm on Wednesday 5th July.
Mark Carruthers of NonLeagueDaily.com gives us some insight on Chester’s chances this term…
“It’s probably quite fair to suggest that Chester underachieved last season.
“They finished just two points and two places above the National League relegation zone but manager Jon McCarthy has made a very impressive start to rebuilding his squad this summer.
“So much so, that I would tip the Blues as the side I think will show the most improvement this season.
“Whether or not that ends up with a play-off spot I’m not sure, but McCarthy is laying the foundations for an impressive season.
“The signings of midfielder Paul Turnbull and Ross Hannah from Barrow show that McCarthy is keen to add leaders to his squad.
“They have lost the highly-talented Sam Hughes after he joined Premier League side Leicester City last week, but the additions of Andy Halls, John McCombe (both from Macclesfield Town) and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (Torquay United) mean that the Blues have replaced Hughes with National League experience.
“Striker James Alabi has been tipped to leave the club this summer and given his form last season that will be a blow. National League champions Lincoln City have been heavily linked with the England C striker. Dagenham & Redbridge and Tranmere Rovers are also rumoured to be interested.
Regardless of whether Alabi leaves or not, I have a feeling that McCarthy’s transfer business is far from over this summer and if the returning Hannah can find the form of his previous spell with the club, then they could be a tough test for any National League opposition this season.”