Who are Chichester City and why are they in the news?
Well, Chichester City currently plays in the Sussex County League Division One. They’re newsworthy because last month they took the extraordinary decision to fire their manager, Mark Poulton, during their Sussex Charity Cup fixture with Redhill. This is without a doubt one of the strangest and most bizarre dismissals in the history of football. Clearly, The Lillywhites’ first-half performance was so dire chairman John Hutter decided he couldn’t wait for the second half to conclude.
It was in fact one of the club’s directors, Gary Walker who had the task of making the call to Poulton during the second half of the match whilst the Oaklands Park outfit was 2-1 up. Nevertheless, Walker delivered the bad news over the phone as the game was in full swing. The message was that the club’s former boss, Adie Girdler, would be returning and that was that for Poulton.
Another question that arises to me is what was the manager doing answering calls during a game? I guess that’s not really the issue though, as after all, it did turn out to be quite an important call. In fairness to the Chichester board, they were unaware that the game was still in progress as there was a long delay because of serious injuries sustained by players from both teams in a collision. In spite of this, the whole affair has put Chichester in the limelight for reasons they wouldn’t have wanted.
Many wouldn’t have begrudged Poulton for simply leaving the ground straight after receiving the call, but he remained to the bitter end. Chichester crumbled to lose the tie 4-2 and he notified the players of the news in the dressing room afterward.
Poulton told The Sun: “I couldn’t believe it. The club is a complete mess and a shambles.” Ever since Poulton was appointed after the sacking of former (and now current) manager Adie Girdler, it seems there were a lot of internal issues. Girdler, who is a major shareholder within the club, was dismissed at the end of last season, causing conflict within the upper echelons of the board.
In the end, Chichester has come out of this fiasco with not a lot to shout about – apart from plenty of column inches in the national press. Although the story will be talked about and remembered by football fans across the country, and the club and Poulton will no doubt become a very popular pub quiz answer, they will now look to put this saga behind them and build on the relatively good start to their Sussex County League season where they sit in the top half.