26-year-old Tom Grindley has been following Chester for over 18-years and none have been better than the past three which have seen the club promoted as champions for three successive years.
How long you been supporting Chester?
18-years and it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster! The last few years have been with the reformed club and we started back in the Evo-Stick but we have been promoted as champions three years in a row. We’re all really looking forward to the year ahead and the manager has been putting a good squad together. He understands the level and what it takes to win so hopefully it will be another to remember.
What are your expectations for the season?
Promotion would be nice but you never know, the bookies have us at very short odds but we’re now coming up against full-time professional teams. I think we will finish inside the top ten but it all depends on how you start. We have a tough start against the likes of Barnet, Kidderminster and Forest Green Rovers but after Saturday’s match we have a couple of home matches. That gives us a good chance to pick up a couple of wins and if we do it will stand us in good stead. I think we will be able to tell more at the end of August.
What have you made of Chester’s transfer activity?
There have been a lot of changes but there has had to be because some players have work commitments. Defender Matt McGinn, who was an important player last season, has had to leave due to work but we have brought in some good players. Danny Harrison and Michael Kay have both joined the club form Tranmere and from looking at the forums the fans would have liked to see Danny stay. The two best signings have been twins Nathan and Lewis Turner from Leeds United on loan. We also have a lot of fire power but I think we could be short of a centre-half, other than that we look strong and have one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
What's an 'outsider's' view of what's been going on at Barnet over the last couple of months and are you looking forward to your trip to The Hive?
I think everyone is excited about coming to The Hive, it’s a new ground and a lot of people will be coming down. If it was near the end of the year I’m not sure how many would make the trip but the feeling I have is that we could bring between 800-1000 supporters. People have also noticed Edgar Davids taking up the number one shirt, I’m not sure if its arrogance or because he hasn’t worn it before but our players will certainly be looking forward to coming up against him and putting a tackle in. The match is also a big step up for us, no disrespect to the teams we have faced in the past three years but the standard in this league is a lot higher. I didn’t expect us to be here so soon, the club said it was a five-year plan to get here and a ten-year plan to get into the Football League so to be here in three is great. There are big games to look forward to this season starting with Barnet and we are really looking forward to it.
Do you see Barnet challenging for promotion next season?
I’ve looked at some of the recent signings, I believe you signed a Dutch lad and a couple of Spaniards over the weekend, but I must admit I’d never heard of them. There haven’t been a lot of changes from last season’s team so they will be strong and they have a very good goalkeeper in Graham Stack. Davids experience will also be key in the centre of midfield but I think Barnet will find it tough. It is a hard league with a lot of good teams and it will be very competitive. I think they will just miss out on a play-off place, teams don’t give you an inch and it may come as a shock.
Which player in the Barnet team do you most fear?
The only player I’ve really seen a lot of is Graham Stack who has a lot of experience at a very high level. The team look strong at the back and there will be a lot of balls coming into the box from set pieces so I think they will cope with that. For me non-league is more about how you defend not how you attack, Stack should be in the Football League but he’s not the only one which makes the division very exciting.
What sort of game are you expecting this weekend?
I think it will be extremely competitive, it will be played at a high tempo and there is no doubt that we will go for the win. With the strikers we have I think we will go with three up top, with one central and two behind, so it will be an attacking line-up. That said I think it will be very tight and there won’t be a lot in it, as I mentioned set pieces will be massive. I think one goal either way will be enough but I can see goals, one moment will win it.
Give us a score prediction with scorers.
Barnet 1-1 Chester, with George Horan getting our goal.