IAIN HOWARD has paid tribute to Neil Young and his management team after reaching the milestone of 100 league games in charge with yesterday’s vital 1-0 away win at Gloucester City.
The popular Chester midfielder and club captain George Horan are the only two players left in the Blues squad since the reformed club's first match against Warrington Town in August 2010.
And Howard, who joined Chester from Ashton United, admitted his back-to-back title-winning campaigns with the Blues had provided many happy memories.
“What Neil Young and his team have achieved in their short time in charge has been tremendous, but we are now wanting to maintain those high standards,” Howard said.
“Their ability to try and keep everyone at the club happy has been a big success and the statistics during their time at the helm speak for themselves.
“People obviously applaud Neil for what he has done since he has been at Chester, but Gary Jones, Alex Hay, Gary Powell and Jimmy Soul have all played key roles because they have been part of our dressing room.
“I've loved every minute of my time at Chester. Being part of a winning side and our back to back title victories has been fabulous and, to be near the top of the league table again this season is great to be a part of.”
Wigan-born Howard, who has made more than 70 starts since signing for Chester, admitted the last two years have been the best he has experienced in his football career.
He added: “I don't think any non-league player can ask for anymore from their club than two successive title campaigns and that's why the last two years have been the best of my career.
“Chester is by far the best non-league club because they are run professionally and I'm now hoping I can help get the club back to where Chester City were when they were expelled from the Conference.
“There have had to be changes in order for us to progress because we've moved up two levels and there have been plenty of challenges along the way.
“George (Horan) and I have just put our heads down and we've both been determined to do our best, and I'm delighted that we are still both playing our part.”
Howard believes Chester will need to consider the transition to full time football if the club win promotion to the Conference Premier.
He said: “If anyone can win promotion to the Conference Premier, then Chester can because I'm confident the gaffer knows what it takes to get there.
“He didn't have many players in the squad during our first season, but what he has achieved since then has been a big achievement.
“When Chester do get into the Conference Premier then our current players will need to sit down and listen to what offers they will be presented with.
“Some players, like myself, will find it hard to play full time football because we already have well paid jobs.
“I have always wanted to live the dream of being a full time footballer, but I will have to seriously think about my financial situation.
“Allowing the gaffer to work full time at Chester will improve the club because he can concentrate on what needs to be done once we are promoted.”