Stuart Rimmer's Chester career proved to be most eventful, with 135 Football League goals coming his way in two separate spells, and he proudly holds the position of record goalscorer for Chester City Football Club. It all began against Southend United on January 26th 1985, and his debut couldn't have been any more spectacular. A hat-trick was to be followed up with continuous strikes, until he sustained a career threatening injury fourteen years ago today.....
Rimmer arrived at Sealand Road initially on loan in January 1985. Sadly, inclement weather meant that Chester didn't play a match between New Year's Day and January 26th. The recent appointment of Mickey Speight as Caretaker Manager had helped instil confidence into a squad which was boosted by the arrivals of Ricky Greenhough, Paul O'Berg and Stuart Rimmer. Going into the game, we lay at the foot of the table (level on points with Wrexham), whilst Southend were in a mediocre mid-table spot. It was to be the Shrimpers who forged ahead in this clash early on, yet after that the afternoon proved to be one they wouldn't wish to recall. Stuart Rimmer was on target in the 26th, 41st and 82nd minutes as we recorded a 5-1 success, with the popular Andy Holden and Bobby Coy the other scorers. What a shame only 1410 saw this composed performance from Chester, with Rimmer netting a hat-trick on his debut for the Blues. These were his first Football League goals, with his only three appearances for Everton having seen him fail to find the net.
Chester were to also score five times a month later against promotion chasing Darlington, with Rimmer converting in the 38th minute after good work by Paul O'Berg. The 5-2 success saw Chester continue to move up the table as they vowed to avoid having to apply for re-election for a second successive season. The weeks and Rimmer goals passed before a crucial away game at Rochdale on April 27th. Rimmer scored from the penalty spot as we recorded a 2-1 win in a six-pointer, although there was still much work to do if we were to finish 20th or higher. Trailing 1-0 at half-time against Hereford at Sealand Road on May 1st, our hopes of achieving our goal seemed to be disappearing fast. However, 'Super Stuey' levelled from the spot early in the second-half, before he hit the winner on the hour. A magnificent late overhead kick secured the points against Stockport to leave County in the bottom four and Chester 17th. Two goals from the last two matches of the season meant that Rimmer finished with 14 goals from 24 league games. Despite only having been at Chester since January, Stuart still managed to end up as our leading scorer as we avoided having to go 'cap in hand' to the League officials.
Unfortunately, the successful ending to the 1984/85 season (City ending in 16th spot) failed to keep Mickey Speight in charge of the club, as his outspoken comments about Chairman Eric Barnes et al. led to Harry McNally being brought in to take control. The uproar generated amongst supporters at the decision was eventually calmed as McNally settled down to the job in hand. Players of the calibre of Milton Graham and John Kelly arrived at the Stadium, whilst Peter Houghton was brought in as a strike partner for Stuey, who had now become a permanent signing for City. Gary Bennett also arrived at Sealand Road soon into the campaign, and he struck up a sound understanding with Rimmer. Strangely, the pair would still be appearing for Chester in season 1997/98, although both did enjoy time away from the club in between.
The season opener against Halifax in August 1985 saw Rimmer on the mark, and by the end of September he'd netted seven league goals from eight games. In addition, a hat-trick had been struck against Tranmere in the Milk Cup first-round, along with two penalties against Coventry in the second-round. October saw Stuey strike six times, including four on his 21st birthday away at Preston. Three more goals arrived in November before Orient travelled to Sealand Road on November 23rd to take on a City side riding high at the top of the 4th Division. After 35 minutes, a superb solo goal from John Kelly put Chester a goal ahead, and further pressure threatened to increase our lead. On 61 minutes we duly did so, but it was a double-edged sword. Rimmer latched onto a splendid through ball from Graham Abel, and shot home past Wells. Unfortunately, Rimmer was felled in the process of scoring and suffered severe knee ligament damage. Stuey was carried off in severe pain whilst City were increasing their lead, through another supreme display of finishing from John Kelly. That night, Rimmer was operated on in the Nuffield Hospital and the signs were bad. Stuey would miss the remainder of the campaign, and indeed wouldn't return to action until the following October. It was a cruel blow to City and Rimmer, who'd netted 16 goals from just 18 league games and looked certain to finish as Division Four top scorer.
Thankfully, City still clinched promotion, with Ian Richardson taking over from 'The Master' in attack. Chester's promotion party came against Southend on April 26th 1986 (a place in the top four had been mathematically guaranteed in midweek), with over 4000 seeing Gary Bennett and Steve Johnson clinch a 2-0 win just days after the late Bobby Moore had parted company with the Shrimpers, where he had been manager. The Champagne corks were popping at the finish, with Sealand Road once more the venue for 'party time'. Recent years had seen Carlisle, Hull, Scunthorpe and Bristol City all assure themselves of promotion after games at Sealand Road, yet for once it was Chester who were celebrating elevation. Who can deny that our triumph owed a great deal to Stuart Rimmer? His early season goals proved vital in our clinching of the runners-up spot. He would return of course to haunt Division 3 defences, but that's another story......