‘Chesterfield is a market town and a borough of Derbyshire, England. It lies north of the city of Derby, on a confluence of the rivers Rother and Hipper. Including Staveley, the population (2001) is 100,879, although that of the town itself is 70,260. It is Derbyshire’s largest town, although the county town of Derbyshire is Matlock in the Derbyshire Dales…’ *
And if all that didn’t have you reaching frantically for your credit card to book a train ticket – it has a football team too!
Formed in 1866 or possibly 1867 – dependant upon whose version of events you chose to accept, Chesterfield are the fourth oldest club in the football league after Notts County, Nottingham Forrest & Sheffield Wednesday.
Or possibly not…
Stoke City vehemently claim that they are the second oldest club in the league – which would make Chesterfield the fifth oldest, although Chesterfield firmly dispute this. Whatever the case – they have been knocking around for ages.
Following a longish period where one presumes they played with themselves, they joined the Midland League in 1896/7 – and then rapidly growing weary of that, joined the Football League in 1899/1900.
Since then they have plyed their trade in the lower league’s, never making the dizzy heights of the English game’s top flight, mostly yo-yoing between divisions 3 and 4. That said they can boast four league titles during their long history and would have had a fifth in 2000/1 but for a points deduction due to some directorly mis-doings – oh, and they won the Anglo-Scottish Cup in 1981.
However, their stolid rather than stunning history is overshadowed by the events which unfolded at Old Trafford in 1997. The simple facts of the matter are that Chesterfield had the perennially hapless then Premier League outfit, Middlesborough, on the ropes in the FA Cup semi-final – 2-1 up and with the the ball in the net for a third and presumably conclusive time, all looked rosy. Until David Elleray intervened – by the simple expediant of ignoring the fact that the ball had crossed the line. Middlesborough rallied and forced a 3-3 draw – going on to beat Chesterfield 3-0 in the replay. Middlesborough went on to lose out to Cheslea – conceding the fastest goal in FA Cup Final history in the process.
It goes without saying that David Elleray is less than welcome in that particular corner of Derbyshire – but in fairness, you could say that for most places in England.
Surprisingly inconsistent. 16 won, 15 drawn, 15 lost.
Whilst never getting into the rarified airs of Bradford’s budget, Chesterfield were one of the bigger spenders in League Two last term. In spite of which, and despite almost making the play-offs for the second season on the spin: the 10th place of ’08/09 was a slip compared to the 8th place in ’07/08. The consequences were pretty predictable – Chesterfield parted company with manager Lee Richardson at the end of the season.
So what went wrong? The two fixtures against Dale pretty well sum it up.
The Spotland fixture was marred by an ugly, cynical performance from Chesterfield. It included an endless procession of niggly fouls from the men of Derbyshire, complemented by some needless gamesmanship – viz. the dismissal of Ward for running the length of the field to deliberately impede a freekick. Result 2-1 Dale.
The Saltergate fixture was a footballing lesson for Dale. Co-ordinated defence (including Dale old boys: Tommy Lee & Allan Goodall), creative midfielders, pacy wingers and wiley forwards – Chesterfield were simply irresistible. Result 3-0 Chesterfield.
In my opinion their season saw too much of the former and not enough of the latter.
New manager John Sheridan will certainly not have the funds Lee Richardson had to play with – but he has it within him to play the beautiful game. Perhaps his influence will draw out the slick footballing side that lurks within Chesterfield FC.
With a side that boasts Jack Lester you would be foolish to write them off. However, I suspect that 09/10 will be another season of frustration for the Derbyshire faithful. Play-off’s at best – I reckon, me.
Chesterfield the place?
My Mum and Dad had a Chesterfield sofa… It had a funny, collapsible armrest thing going on.
I went there once when I was a kid to watch whippets chase after a grubby, stuffed, rabbit toy… I had a burger, with onions – and red sauce.
There is a church with a spire that appears to have been the subject of some jolly shoddy workmanship. I gather Watchdog have been informed.
Oh yeah! Saltergate was used as the backdrop for the football scenes in ‘The Damned United’. Apparently they wanted to capture that authentic 1970’s football ground feel – which Saltergate has in spades.
No, I think that’s it.
Chesterfield in a word?
* Courtesy of Wikipedia’s highly informative guide to Chesterfield.
Written by Richard Eden-Maughan on 8th July 2009.