At Christmas 2003 Chesterfield FC was bottom of League Two and odds on favourite to go back to the bottom tier it escaped in 2001. Manager Roy McFarland had taken charge at the start of the season but before Boxing Day had won only two league games and had exited all the cup competitions. An almost ironic refrain of “The Great Escape March” became popular at Saltergate.
From Boxing Day a run of eight wins in 15 matches (albeit one of which was a 7-0 loss to Plymouth) took the Spireites to 17th position. This was comfortably above the danger zone and demonstrated promotion form. Unfortunately the Spireites then went eight games without a win to be effectively four points from safety with three games left.
A win against Blackpool at Saltergate was followed by a dispiriting loss at Boundary Park. This left Chesterfield third bottom with four to be relegated. Above the Spireites were Grimsby Town and Rushden & Diamonds who could be caught if only results went the way of Chesterfield.
The last match of the season was against Luton Town at Saltergate and only a win would give a chance of stopping up. The start was delayed for the most poignant of reason as His Grace, the Duke of Devonshire had died only a few days before. The 11thDuke was a real friend of the Club and had been president for almost fifty years- a minute’s silence was impeccably observed.
The couple of minutes that were needed to honour the Duke meant that as the match entered its last ninety seconds it was already clear that both Grimsby and Rushden were losing. So with a few seconds to go, with the crowd glued to their radios, a Carl Muggleton kick was flicked-on into the path of Glynn Hurst. Hurst ran through, holding off the defender and poked the ball past Brill in the Luton goal.
That strike in front of the Kop sent 6000 home fans into ecstasy. A couple of minutes of keep ball ensured that the three points to leap over two teams to exit the relegation zone had been achieved. With promotion never having been achieved on the field at the Recreation Ground this was as good as it gets.