I was in Chester on Saturday. The city's appeal comes from the tourist friendly architecture and, especially in May, good racing on a course shoehorned in close to the city centre.

You wouldn't say the city's football ground has the same appeal, and there were enough people in the main shopping areas to suggest many were oblivious to the drama due to be played out in Chester's modern but functional stadium, tucked away at the end of an industrial estate.

For several of the teams I have covered this season, it was "Survival Saturday", as I saw it dubbed in the world of the Twitterati. For those with no second chance, it was a miraculous day, with escapes achieved everywhere. For one team, there is still work to do, but their position is much improved.

My day showed that no matter how tight a corner you are in when it comes to relegation, never give up. In the Skrill Premier, financially troubled Hereford would go down if they didn't win at Aldershot, and Salisbury didn't deprive Chester of victory in their last game.

At one stage in the second half, both Hereford and Chester were ahead, and when Aldershot equalised with time running out, Hereford looked doomed.
Then, with less than five minutes left, I watched Salisbury equalise as, simultaneously, BBC Hereford and Worcester commentator Keith Hall described Hereford's second goal. For the fans of the two clubs, it was elation or desolation right at the death of the season, although for Hereford, financial battles remain.

The other side needing snookers to get out of trouble were Jersey's rugby team, dumped at the bottom of the Championship on the penultimate
weekend of the season. It was the islanders or Ealing who would drop to the third tier, with Jersey starting the final day, away at Bedford, two points adrift. Ealing had home advantage, but faced Rotherham, who were already in the play offs.

At half time the Yorkshire side were comfortably ahead, and Jersey had a narrow lead at Goldington Road, but as that was whittled away to leave the game all square at 31-31, Ealing were clawing in Rotherham's lead as well. In the end, it took a penalty try to secure Jersey's bonus point win and see them escape the clutches of their closest rivals.

Ealing drop back into National Division 1, where they will again play Cinderford, with the Foresters status secured despite a heavy defeat of their own at Championship challengers Rosslyn Park.

Cinderford had the insurance of a home game against Wharfedale next Saturday, but they don't now need to win it after Henley could only draw their final game at Tynedale, agonisingly missing a conversion to a late try.

In this season where I've been attracted to teams struggling at the wrong end of their respective divisions, the most acute plight appeared to that of Bristol Rovers, scrambling to avoid relegation from the Football League. They lost both games over Easter, and went to fellow strugglers Wycombe knowing even a draw might see them go into the final round of games in the bottom two places in League 2.

Despite only one away win in the previous 22 matches, over 2000 supporters made the journey to see David Clarkson find the goal a quarter of an hour from end that might be worth around £400,000 - the widely quoted figure for revenue lost when a club drops out of the league.

Wycombe are now in the position Hereford were in at kick off on Saturday - chasing the game, but not without hope. Beware Bristol Rovers, and beware Northampton too, despite their win at Dagenham. Just ask Chester fans who thought they were safe.....

Photograph: Copyright http://www.warhistoryonline.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s