MATTY BROWN will always hold fond memories of his spell at Chester as he prepares to return to the club with Halifax Town tomorrow.
Brown was handed the Blues captaincy for the 2014/15 season by Steve Burr and was at the heart of the side who came close to knocking League One outfit Barnsley out of the FA Cup second round, but was released at the end of the campaign and joined the Shaymen.
The 27-year-old, who will lead Billy Heath’s newly-promoted side out at the Swansway Chester tomorrow, explained he ‘absolutely loved’ his 18 months with the club.
“I absolutely loved my time at Chester, and I made it clear that I didn’t want to leave at the time,” he explained.
“Unfortunately Steve (Burr) couldn’t offer me anything that summer but these things do happen in football. What I can say is Chester is a fantastic club, there’s a real family feel to the place.
“I made some very good friends at Chester, myself and Jon Rooney are pretty close mates to this day, and we always talk fondly about that season.
“It’s a different club with it being fan-owned, you get a connection with the fans that I’ve not had elsewhere. So it’s going to be good to go back on Saturday, I just hope the fans will give me a warm welcome!
“I know Kings well, and Mahony is still there, but apart from that it’s pretty much all new lads since my time there.
“I get on well with Jon (McCarthy), he’s a good coach and he was always very good to me when I was there.”
The Shaymen were relegated from the National League at the end of Brown’s first season at the Yorkshire club, but they bounced back last season with promotion via the play-offs from National League North, in a thrilling 2-1 extra time win over Chorley.
“It’s good to be back, it was important a club of this size got back in the National League as soon as possible,” he continued.
“Going down a league, it’s tough but Halifax is a big club and shouldn’t be at that level. We had to tough it out, it was a long road but we managed to get ourselves up at the end.”
As for their league opener, a 2-0 home defeat against title hopefuls Aldershot, Brown was impressed by the quality of opposition.
“Aldershot was a bit of an awakening. We didn’t get to grips with them but in fairness, they’re the best team I’ve seen at this level of football, I was very impressed.
“We’ve probably played one of the toughest sides in this league there on the opening day, but we know it doesn’t get much easier. Barrow made it difficult and we all know Chester have got a great squad together and it’s never easy to pick up points there.
“The gaffer wants us to stick to our principles. We played some good football last year and he feels we can win games at this level if we stick to what we’re good at.
“For me, I break the season up into small chunks and that 50-point mark is first and foremost our aim. It’s nice to think we can do better than just stay up, but that is essential first to ensure we stay up.”
Brown admits losing full-back Kevin Roberts to Wrexham is a ‘massive loss’ and suspects the former Blues defender will be afforded a ‘warm welcome’ when he returns to Chester for the cross-border derby on November 10.
“Kev’s a massive loss, he’s a cracking defender,” added Brown.
“I’m good mates with Kev and it was difficult for him to turn down a club the size of Wrexham, although he’ll have to expect some stick for it from the Chester fans!
“He was a good player for the old Chester team, and he’s a braver man than me making that switch! But he’s a good player and he’s a loss to us.”
See full story in the Chester Leader