GARY JONES is looking forward to another exciting chapter in Chester FC's short history when the new season kicks off next month.
The Blues assistant manager is anxious to discover his club's fixtures for the new Conference North campaign which are scheduled to be released today.
Jones admitted he is just as excited as the Chester fans, players and other management staff to learn who the club will be facing on the opening day of the season on Saturday, August 18.
“I'm just as excited as every Chester fan ahead of the club's fixtures being released because, like everyone at Chester, I want to know who we are going to play in our first match, who we will be playing over the Christmas and New Year programme, and when we will be playing our predicted rivals FC Halifax Town,” Jones said.
“Everybody at Chester is understandably excited about the prospect of watching their club play at different grounds and in a higher league.
“I'm sure there will be some great games to watch once again - none more so than our fixtures against other big guns FC Halifax Town which could see us attracting a gate of 4-5,000 fans.
“I know that Chester are being tipped by the bookies on past experience and because of the momentum of our two consecutive title victories, but that's an easy way out for the bookies.
“People think we are the title favourites because they think we have the biggest budget of any club in the Conference North, but that's not the case.
“It's true that we've got a good squad and we've given ourselves every chance of challenging for promotion again, but that is because Neil Young and I have put together a good, hard working squad of players, and because we've used our management skills and our knowledge.
“The players and the management at Chester are now preparing for the new season and we're all itching to get started.”
Jones underlined the importance of strengthening the Chester squad since the club celebrated last season's emphatic championship title success.
He added: “Neil and I took stick for not retaining Chris Williams and Michael Aspin after Chester's first title victory, but it is vital that the club evolves as it progresses.
“If we failed to build on what the club has achieved, stick with the same players and start to get beat then there is a danger that we will fall back on ourselves.
“Every football club has got to progress and Chester is no different. We feel that changes we have made since last season will help us make that step up.
“Signing experienced players from higher leagues doesn't always work, but the lads we have brought in like Sean Clancy, Adam Proudlock and Nathan Jarman have played at a higher level and they are all hard working members of the squad.”
- Gloucester City manager Dave Mehew has tipped Chester and FC Halifax Town to do well this season.
The Tigers boss also feels Harrogate Town and Gainsborough Trinity are capable of challenging for promotion, while Bishop's Stortford could be dark horses.
He said: “My instinct says Chester and Halifax will do well.
- Former Chester City attacking midfielder Michael Coulson has joined Conference Premier promotion play-off winners York City from former league rivals Grimsby Town.
Scarborough-born Coulson was on loan at the Blues from Barnsley in 2009 when Jim Harvey was manager.
See full story in the Chester Leader