Friday, 7 December 2007

An Interview with Grenville Millington

Over the years, there have been many players to have worn the colours of Chester Football Club. There can be few though who can match the sterling service that Grenville Millington gave to the club in a distinguished playing career which lasted over ten years. Whilst at Sealand Road, Grenville played in our first ever promotion season of 1974/75 and also helped the club to reach the semi finals of the League Cup in the famous cup run of that same season.

From his beginnings, Grenville was born into a family with a footballing heritage, his primary influence on joining the game came through his family. "It was down to my Brother. He started and ended up becoming an international goalkeeper. So he started when we were both young and I always just followed him. He went on to play for West Brom and Wales so it has always been in the family. My uncle played for Shrewsbury so I think that is where it started" said Millington.

Raised locally on Deeside, Grenville impressed in football at an early age, playing for Queensferry Primary Schools, Deeside High School and Flintshire Schoolboys. His performances didn't go unnoticed as he was asked to go along for trials at a number of clubs including Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Crewe Alexandra and Arsenal. However, he left school without being signed by any League club and instead began playing for Queensferry Wanderers Youth. IT was whilst playing for them that Grenville joined Chester. "The late Ron Bishop contacted the Chester Manager, Ken Roberts, and organised a trial for me. I joined Chester on amateur terms."

With Chester, Grenville was signed as cover for the first team 'keeper, but he did impress enough to represent Wales at amateur level. "I won nine amateur caps for Wales and I also represented Great Britain in helping them to qualify for the 1970 Olympic Games. I considered it a major honour to have represented my country at any level." He made his league debut for Chester against Lincoln at Sealand Road. "I was given my first team chance when Terry Carling was injured. We won 2-0." Grenville didn't impress enough to sign professional and in 1970 he was released by Chester. Grenville then joined Cheshire League side, Rhyl. "I had two seasons with Rhyl and I remember my time there as being extremely happy. I then joined Witton Albion with whom Mick Metcalf was with as manager."

In the summer of 1973, Grenville was invited to go on tour with Middlesex Wanderers to Japan. "We stayed for six weeks playing exhibition matches. Upon my return I received a call from the Brighton manager to go for a trial. I spent 12 weeks at Brighton before returning home for a weekend. I received a call from Ron Bishop (again!) to go and see the Chester manager, Ken Roberts, as he wanted a 'keeper. I then signed a professional contract." That was in September 1973. Grenville then went on to serve Chester for nine years in which time he played in many memorable matches for the club.

"The League Cup run of 1974/75 will always have tremendous memories for any Chester fans, but for different reasons the games I will always remember are an end of season friendly against the Police, an away match at Barnsley, a home game against Doncaster, the Newcastle and Leeds League Cup matches and the away match with Aston Villa. I'll also never forget the Vince Pritchard's training sessions and the help I received from the staff including Ken Roberts, Bill Green, Cliff Sear and Vince Pritchard. I'll never forget the tremendous support the fans gave me either."

Grenville continued by marking the famous cup run season as his most favoured memory in football. "I would say the league cup run and getting promotion. I think it was the first time in the history of the club when we got promoted. I think getting promotion was one of the highlights, if not the best one, because the club hadn't been promoted before. But certainly the league cup run holds in everybody's memory. "

For a man who served so long for his home town club, he has lots of stories to tell. "I've got a stack of them!!" he claimed as he began to describe a time when Ken Roberts was asking for volunteers to travel to Cardiff City for a Welsh Cup tie on a Thursday evening, "I remember nobody wanted to go, and we were all so glad when Cardiff scored in the dying stages because none of us wanted to hang around for extra time!"

Grenville continued: "I can remember playing in goal at Colchester, they had a penalty right on the last minute and Colchester's ground is very tight and the supporters are right on you. The guy who put the ball on the spot was a guy called Gary Moore who played for Chester a little bit later on and as he run back to take it, Ian Seddon who was a player at Chester came up to me. I knew Colchester needed the points to get into the top four and we were in mid table so it was very tense. He walked towards me and as I was standing in goal he said what's on the pitch at Chester Granville? I said 'I don't know Ian', he said 'Oh, all right then and as he walked out I said, which way is he gonna put this penalty. He said, I don't know I haven't a clue. And of course I'd like to say I stopped him, but I dived out of the way and he scored."

Grenville came to leave Chester at the end of the 1981/82 season having made 289 League appearances. "The new manager, John Sainty, told me that he didn't want any part time players, I had gone part time after I had moved into business, so that was the end." However, it wasn't the end of Grenville's football career. "I played for Holywell reserves with my good friend Glyn Griffiths before rejoining Ken Roberts who was manager of Oswestry Town." The in December 1983, Grenville received a call to help Wrexham out of a goalkeeping crisis. "Bobby Roberts asked me and I signed for Wrexham as a non contract player." Replacing a young Stuart Parker in the Wrexham team, Grenville made his league debut in a 1-1 home draw with Darlington on New Year's Eve 1983. The likeable custodian that kept his place in the Wrexham team until the end of March before being replaced by Ronnie Sinclair. "I have mixed memories of my time with Wrexham. The place and the people were so friendly, but I had a leg injury that would not go away so I always thought that I could have done better."

All in all though, despite the good times, Grenville recalls relegation with Chester as a distinct low point, ""We were relegated one year, and we got relegated in a big way. We weren't just relegated but in a big way and that was very disappointing. It is hard to get back as Chester are experiencing at the moment in the Conference. " Our former goalkeeper still gets involved in all the action down the deva stadium continuing on at the club in his current position as goalkeeping coach, "I coach the kids main, and there's one or two real good ones at the club but I help Wayne Brown out too."

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