Chester to seek home comforts with his squatters

Hull City defender James Chester will be harbouring two hopes this weekend – a home win for the Tigers plus some peace and quiet at home. Richard Sutcliffe reports.

BEING called ‘Dad’ at the age of 22 years old is pretty unremarkable.

When the individuals addressing you are aged 19 and 20, however, then it is has to be considered a little bit out of the ordinary.

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For James Chester, though, it has become an everyday occurrence since the Hull City defender allowed team-mates Cameron Stewart, Joe Dudgeon and Robbie Brady to move into the house he bought over the summer.

It is one of the reasons why, as the former Manchester United Academy graduate told the Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s Championship encounter with Reading, he wants them out.

Or Dudgeon and Brady, at least.

“They never shut up,” is how Chester responds with a huge smile on his face when asked what it is like sharing his home with the Tigers trio. “Or Robbie and Joe don’t, at least.

“Those two are driving me mad so I am trying to get rid of them. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to have five of us at Hull who came through together at Manchester United.

“There were three of us last year – me, Cam and Corry Evans – and we all lived together in a club house. That was good but I wanted my own place so bought somewhere.

“Cam also moved in but then so did Robbie and Joe after they had signed (from United). Robbie and Joe are now driving me mad so I am trying to get rid of them.

“They never shut up. They call me ‘Dad’, seemingly because I am the only one who puts things away. I am the responsible one. It is why I want them out.”

Chester’s pleas for his team-mates to move out may have fallen on deaf ears, much to his frustration. But, when it comes to football, the 22-year-old could not be happier to have so many Old Trafford old boys at the KC Stadium.

Lifelong Red Devils fan Chester said: “I first met Joe and Cam at a very young age as we all joined United as schoolboys. Corry (Evans) and Robbie then came over (from Belfast) at the age of 16.

“Knowing each other for such a long time makes it really good that we are at the same club now.

“We all realise how privileged and lucky we were to come through the Manchester United Academy. It is a very special club, which also has the best coaches and the best facilities in this country.

“Thanks to United, we have had the best upbringing we could have hoped for and, hopefully, Hull will benefit from that.

“It was a good move (of the manager) to bring Joe and Robbie in (the latter on loan). As footballers, they are two very good signings. I have known both for a long time so know they are more than capable of playing at this level.”

Warrington-born Chester joined Hull last January in a deal worth around £300,000 and quickly became one of the first names on manager Nigel Pearson’s team-sheet.

His debut against Barnsley was marked with a home win, and his third game at the KC Stadium brought a first goal in Hull colours as the derby game with Leeds United finished 2-2.

Since then, however, highs on home soil have been conspicuous only by their absence for both Chester and Hull.

In fact, the defender’s 14 appearances at the KC have brought just three wins and seven defeats. And as if to underline just why the Tigers are struggling on home soil, during those 14 games Pearson’s men have netted just 12 goals.

During the same period, Hull have won six and drawn three of 11 games Chester has played on the road.

Such a contrasting record – plus the fact all three home games this term, including Macclesfield Town’s visit in the Carling Cup, have ended in defeat without a goal having been scored – is why the pressure is on Hull to deliver today against Reading.

Chester, though, insists there is no mental block among the Tigers’ squad when it comes to playing in front of the club’s own fans.

He said: “I enjoy playing at the KC. I have come from playing reserve team football and at Carlisle (during a four-month loan spell last season), where there were 3,000-4,000 there. I want to play as high as possible, and to do that it means in front of big crowds.

“Playing in front of 25,000 people is part of my learning curve and is something I enjoy. It is not something I fear at all. I don’t feel any different when preparing for a home game than I do one that is away. It just isn’t happening at home but we are working hard to put that right, hopefully starting against Reading.

“Teams come to the KC and make it difficult by sitting back. Crystal Palace defended really well (last weekend to win 1-0) but Reading are more of an attacking team and that should suit us.

“They finished last season really well and were unlucky not to go up. They have lost a couple of players, including Shane Long, but it is still a strong squad and I am sure they will be looking to emulate last year and go up.”

Asked if he felt anxiety was creeping in among the home fans, Chester replied: “The crowd pay their money to come and watch, and are not getting what they expect to see.

“But, believe me, we don’t go into games wanting to lose and it is not a nice feeling.

“The fans can help. We have young players and anxiety can pass on to the players. But they do pay their money and are allowed their opinions.

“I don’t think expectation has been a burden or anything like that. We are all confident we are good players and we know we have a good squad.

“It is still very early days and the league has already shown its unpredictability with West Ham and Leicester, who spent lots of money, not starting as well as they hoped.

“There is a long way to go and we have a good squad. One win will be all we need to turn things round.”

Three points today, therefore, would do very nicely. Especially if accompanied by Chester’s house being nice and quiet for the rest of the weekend to allow ‘Dad’ a chance to enjoy a welcome sleep.