What Chester Football Club means to me – Rio Doherty

Chester FC means a lot, an awful lot to me. If you were to sink a knife into me then there would be quite a high chance that blue blood would trickle out, because Chester is truly my lifeblood.

It all started on a dreary, damp Novembers afternoon back in 2010 against Skelmersdale United, in what was our first season as a reformed club.

My dad, who has been a supporter since the early 1970’s, took me to my first game that day, and ever since then I have caught the bug of going every week. Winning 4-0 obviously was a major factor in that hook, even though we have experienced worse since. In resonance to my dad, I am jealous of him in a way because I often kick myself due to the fact I missed the good old days of the 70’s and 80’s. I really do wish I was around in those days because I often hear stories from him (and other fellow Chester supporters) about the famous five in the sixties, the night that little old Chester put the mighty Leeds United to the sword in our run to the semi finals of the League Cup in the mid-70’s, our promotion to the old Third Division, amongst a whole host of other memories.

The music was also brilliant in those times too, and that’s all I listen to nowadays as I can’t stand today’s modern day stuff at all. Also, I am very envious of our old Sealand Road home as of course I have the misfortune of not visiting there. To be honest I think our current ground is quite nice, but it’s the location that lets it down a lot.

Sealand Road was a lovely old-school ground close to the Deva heartland, and sadly there aren’t many of those knocking around now, especially with the likes of York City, Brentford, and Boston United all moving into new stadiums in the near future.

Anyway, enough about what could have been, and more about what has been. In 2015 I got given my first season ticket, and from then on I attended Chester matches more regularly. Funnily enough, my season ticket wasn’t put to much use as halfway through that campaign a steward offered me a role as a ball boy (where I got in for free anyway), which over the years certainly produced its moments.

Along with going to every home game I got dragged along to the odd away game too, with my first being a miserable 2-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers on a humid Septembers afternoon. My second was some six months later in a huge relegation six pointer in Yorkshire (at Guiseley). On the subject of Yorkshire, I was all set to watch us play FC Halifax Town away in the FA Trophy a month earlier, but having just arrived into the town centre we had to divert back due to a very late postponement. That Guiseley game though had everything. In monsoon conditions, it certainly was a late Easter cracker as the goals lashed in, with Tom Shaw saving our blushes in the 92rd minute to keep our survival hopes alive by snatching a dramatic 3-3 draw.

From 2017 onwards I have gradually upped my away day tally, as ever since then I have only missed a handful of matches. From Barrow to Newquay, and from Gateshead to Torquay (and all points in between), I have been to an array of places that I otherwise probably would never hear of. You just can’t beat going to a random town 200 miles away to watch a game of football with your fellow mates or family, as that’s what it is all about. Meanwhile, in January 2018 I set-up my own YouTube channel which started off with me vlogging Chester FC matches, and I love it as I want to pursue a career in sports media when I am older. It started off with me just recording the games, but since then I now upload a match preview for every match, have compiled ‘Goal Of The Month’ competitions, and now do a ‘Chester FC Digest’ series where I talk about all things Chester.

Rio Doherty on Twitter: "It's matchday! @ChesterFC entertain ...

I don’t only do these videos for the benefit of myself though, because I also do it for the benefit of fellow Chester FC supporters, which is the perk of my relationship with them. Also, it enables exiles from far away to keep updated with our club and to sample what a matchday is like via the atmosphere, etc. Last January I parted ways with ball boying to allow me to sit back and watch the action from the terraces, but to also take up a new role as our club mascot, Lupus. Again, that brought its moments with a particular standout being at half time on a scorching August Bank Holiday Monday against Hereford FC. In front of our then-biggest crowd, it was only typical me for Lupus’ head to fly off from a football striking my head right in front of a packed Harry Mac, to frighten plenty of children alike. What a way to expose me as the mascot!

A few months ago I passed Lupus onto somebody else, although I still volunteer in our club shop for an hour on a matchday, in a role I have been doing since July 2018. I just love being a Chester supporter, volunteer, and a co-owner as I have had some fantastic memories in my ten years as a supporter, and have forged some brilliant connections with plenty of fellow supporters, volunteers, and players too! The beauty of supporting a lower league club is that you make friendships with people forever in an environment that you all have the same passion for, and as I touched on before the players also mix in too. Would you get players in the Premier League knowing your name off by heart? Absolutely not!

I have had one or two disagreements and tough moments with the odd person, but we all do and with us being very tight-knit we just get on with it and forget it in a hurry. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future for Chester FC is, and I will firmly play a part in it, as well as many others, and can’t wait to be supporting and volunteering here for many decades to come.

We are a family, a blue and white one! Chester FC means a lot, an awful lot to me.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

2 thoughts on “What Chester Football Club means to me – Rio Doherty

  1. Wow, Rio, a really well-written piece!! A really interesting read from someone old enough to have experienced all that you crave from our past history. The best bit, by far, is the photograph at the end. I’m not sure quite how it came about but it totally typifies our community-focussed football club to a tee! COYB 😉

  2. Great to read about your enthusiasm and love of all things CFC. I have been a supporter since the mid fifties and could tell many a tale about our beloved club. Don’t let anyone dvert you, you have a great future in media ahead of you I’m sure.

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