This was a flying visit as I was on a tight schedule on my way to a gig, coupled with the sun starting to disappear made it hard to get any decent photos.
The Exacta is what was previously known as the Deva Stadium, a terrific moniker regardless of it not being spelt diva. It’s had a series of sponsored names since opening in 1992, obviously vital to club finances but really doesn’t help with identity.
I remember Huddersfield’s McAlpine Stadium. A terrific venue and memorable name, albeit one of a sponsor. But once they started changing the name every few years, you lose track and, more importantly, interest.
The Exacta’s main problem is nothing of its own doing though. Four pristine new stands, sat on the outskirts of an industrial estate. It was one of the first grounds built after the Taylor report and is one of the featureless soulless venues that the safety brigade would be delighted with.
It’s a shame – it’s a lovely stadium, sat behind some pleasant greenery, and they have tried to inject some character with an ugly rhino with a tash perched outside the ground. But it’s very samey (the ground, not the bull). Almost suspiciously pleasant. When your ground’s main selling point is that it’s the only stadium that is both in England and in Wales, you’re struggling. Although annoyingly, I found out that it’s mainly just the car park that’s in England, which knocks some of the pizazz and shine off.
I’ve a lot of affection for Chester as a club – they rose from the ashes when the fans reformed the club after it previously went bust – and they also have ex-Sunderland man and current Gibraltar international Danny Higginbotham playing for them, but I won’t be rushing to make a repeat trip to the Exacta.