IT was no wonder Kevin Roberts took the the club’s COVID-19 testing programme in his stride.

The Chester defender, in the second year of a four-year physiotherapy course, has seen for himself the implications of the coronavirus pandemic as he has been on work placement at Warrington Hospital.

“It’s been an eye opener,” said Roberts, whose experience will be key to Chester’s chances of winning at Altrincham in Sunday’s National League play-off eliminator.

“At first it was very busy, as you can imagine. But it has quietened down. It’s just been a case of me helping out where I could.”

While the 30-year-old from Liverpool gave more than a helping hand as the National Health Service tried to save lives amidst the outbreak, Roberts was also instrumental in the players contributing to Chester’s fund-raising initiatives and there amazing offer to waive their fees for playing in this season’s exciting finale.

“With the club being fan owned, I think it is great to see everyone doing their bit raising funds,” said Roberts.

“The fans have been class; you only have to look at the incredible first few weeks of Boost the Budget. The lads got involved in that too by doing their bit.

“We wanted to do whatever was possible to take part in the play-offs, but we need our incredible supporters to make the difference in this latest fundraiser to give us a real chance.”

Roberts knows how much the club means to the fans having started his football career playing for Chester City.

“It’s 13 years ago since I made my debut. I was a first year pro and Bobby Williamson was the boss,” said Roberts, whose versatility made him a key member of the squad.

And he joined the ‘scored against Wrexham’ club after his stunning volley at The Racecourse earned the Blues a 2-2 draw that season.

Six more goals and almost 100 appearances later, the old Blues were no more with Roberts in the team for City’s final ever game - a 2-1 home defeat to Ebbsfleet United on February 6 2010.

Only 388 fans bothered to pay their last respects although Roberts reckoned there were even less in the stadium for some of the games in that sorry season.

“It wasn’t the best of times for anyone involved, especially the fans,” recalled Roberts.

“Obviously players had to find new clubs but it was great that the club carried on and has enjoyed some great times since reforming 10 years ago.

“The grounds were empty and it wasn’t easy. It will be weird playing on Sunday with no fans too, especially knowing how many Chester fans would have made the trip.

“You could look back at those days and say it possibly made me stronger but I was young and it didn’t really affect my career because I was lucky enough to sign for Cambridge - which was a great move for me.

“Cambridge is a lovely city and a great place to live. I enjoyed five good seasons down there and was playing at right back which is where I wanted to play.”

Roberts chalked up more than 140 appearances for The U’s and his final season at The Abbey wasn’t a bad one, beating Gary Mills’ Gateshead in the Conference play-off final as well as an FA Trophy Final triumph at Wembley to boot.

“Winning the double was a great way to finish my time there,” he added.

“Then at Halifax were relegated to National League North and won the FA Trophy in the same season. Not the kind of double you want on your CV. Although we did bounce straight back and won promotion beating Chorley in the play-off final.”

After a two year stay down the road at Wrexham where Roberts suffered play-off heartbreak as The Reds were eliminated by Eastleigh, the experienced defender is determined to add another promotion to his list.

“If we’re going to do it, it’s going to be the hard way with three away games,” he continued. “But the fact that there will be no fans in the grounds may just help us.

“I know the Chester fans would have turned out in big numbers but the likes of Altrincham and York won’t have home fans there so it’s up to the players really to create their own atmosphere.

“It will be strange but there’s a good spirit as the club - and we have two great managers in Johnno and Bernard.

“People will have their own opinions of them because the Salford documentary but they are brilliant.

“They’ve had enough promotions over the years to know what to do to get through these play-offs but it’s all about going there and putting in a performance.

“The fact that we’ve got the chance to play is great because there were times you didn’t think any more games would be played this season.”