Medieval games of football had been played on the Rodee every Shrove Tuesday long before Chester Football Club started life in 1885, after Chester Rovers merged with Old King’s Scholars. They played their football in red and white at Faulkner Street in Bishopfield, an area of the city which we now know as Hoole. The colours were chosen by the wife of Hugh Roberts who was elected President of the club in 1887. Since Hugh Roberts was not a member of the club’s first committee in 1885 it is not entirely sure that the club started off in these colours. In 1888 it was mentioned that Chester were in dispute with the local cricket club because they also played in red and white and wanted the football club to change. Chester refused to give up the colours because they had just spent £5 on new kit.
Faulkner Street, which later became known as the Tomkinson Street ground, was said to have a pitch that was marred by furrows after heavy rain. Chester’s first ground was confiscated by builders and a new pitch had to be secured on the site of the Old Agricultural showground between Hoole Lane and Hoole Road. The stay was only brief as, twelve months later, the club were forced to temporarily disband when the ground was lost to housing.
New accommodation was eventually found in 1901. A ground was secured in Whipcord Lane, thus allowing the club to get back into action, this time clad in green and white in various combinations. Although the colours from the aforementioned Kings School are blue, green and white, any connection would be fanciful speculation. Any hopes that this would be a permanent venture were soon dispelled, for not only was the ground on the small side, it was also subject to frequent flooding. It was home though, if only for five years. The next move proved a lasting one, though as events are to prove, nothing lasts forever. In 1906 Mr Alfred Mond came to the rescue of the club. He persuaded The Earl of Crewe to grant him a lease on the Sealand Road site. At the same time the club was floated as a limited company, with surprise, surprise, Alfred Mond being the largest share holder.
In 1919 the club entered the Cheshire County League as founder members and their new dark green shirts earned them the nickname ‘The Ivies’, although they were still more popularly known as ‘Linnets’. In 1920 Chester FC changed to black and white stripes for unknown reasons and the nickname ‘Magpies’ was adopted. These colours were to stay until 1930 when the club changed to the much loved blue and white stripes, coinciding with the arrival of Charlie Hewitt as secretary/manager. Since Hewitt used to be in charge at Wrexham who were clad in blue and white at the time he may well have taken the rival colours with him!
For almost thirty years the colours remained the same with the exception of the 1952/53 season when Chester FC played in white shirts and black shorts. Chester turned out in green shirts trimmed with gold collar and cuffs and with white shorts and green socks in the 1959/60 season, only to return to the now familiar blue and white in 1962. The late sixties and early seventies saw a flirtation with an all sky-blue kit.
The Sealand Road ground was the first in the League to have a public address system. Another piece of history was made in January 1935 when the Football Association organised a game with two referees, one in each half of the pitch. Obviously the experiment was not deemed a success as the experiment was not continued. The last match at Sealand Road was played in April 1990 because the club had been forced to move for financial reasons. The club’s future was uncertain with no one knowing where Chester City would be playing the following season. They were finally given the go ahead to use Macclesfield Town’s Moss Rose Ground on July 12th 1990 and the next two seasons all ‘home’ matches were played here. It is perhaps the ultimate irony that Macclesfield were denied entry to the League because their ground was not up to League standards.
After the forced exile Chester City moved back home, at the newly built Deva Stadium in 1992. Despite numerous stories to the contrary the border does not run alongside the touchline. The whole pitch is in Wales and so are all the stands. The only bit of the ground in England is a small part of the office block at the front of the ground.
Chester FC, who became Chester City after the town’s change of status in 1983, have been known as The Seals after the former ground’s name and also Cestrians, obviously after their place of origin. Today, Chester City are referred to imaginatively as’ Blues’ or plain ‘City’.
The current prestigious emblem, an adaptation of the City of Chester’s coat of arms contains a wolf’s head and a crown, both of which are important heraldic designs. The wolf’s head dates back to Norman times when the nephew of William the Conqueror, Hugh d’Avranches, a particularly ruthless man, was appointed Earl of Chester in the wild days of 1071 when much of England was still resenting their Norman Overlords. Hugh earned the nickname ‘Lupus’ which is the Latin name for wolf, hence the emblem of the wolf’s head. The laurel allegedly suggests oak. This tree is not only common in the area, the oak leaf has also been the symbol of the Cheshire Regiment since they saved the King’s life while standing beneath an oak tree at the batlle of Dettingen in 1749.
The coat of arms of the town before its change to city status adorned the blue and white shirts for the 1958/59 season. These arms were granted in 1580 during the reign of Elizabeth I. The shield contains the Royal Arms of England joined with those of the old Earls of Chester by dimidiation; rather more than half the lions is shown, and one wheatsheaf and a half. The sword is stated in the grant to be ‘the emblem of majesty and jusitice’. The supporting lion is a royal emblem and the wolf denotes the aforementioned Hugh Lupus. The motto ‘Antiqui Colant Antiquum Dierum’ means as much as ‘Let the ancient virtues worship the Ancient of Days’.
Chester City used an entirely different badge with an entirely different motto during an interval period from 1974/75 1975 to 1982/83, inspired by their former ground’s name. Two joyful seals are on display in a shield between two banners reading ‘The Seals’ and ‘Chester FC”. The design was picked from a competition held by the local newspaper with the winning entry coming from the local school of art in Handbridge.