3-0, and we didn't win

Posted on October 6, 2013 at 2:10 PM

First and foremost, congratulations to Morecambe for their spirited fightback to overturn a 3-0 halftime deficit and win, on Saturday 5th October 2013. Where does this archetypal "Game of two halves" stand in our history?

Going back to the formation of the Third Division (North) in 1921, we have had at least 95 halftime leads of three clear goals in first-team, competitive matches. (Ten early halftime scores are yet to be found.) The Morecambe game was the first occasion on which an opponent has turned our lead around to win. Indeed, there is only one occasion where that lead has been levelled out - the 3-3 draw at Rotherham in the 2000-1 LDV Cup, which we went on to win with an extra-time "Golden Goal."

How about our fightbacks from 3-0 down? As with our surrendering a three-goal halftime lead, there are two occasions on which we've fought back from being three adrift at halftime. This comes from only 65 known instances of our being three goals to the bad at the 45-minute mark, some 30 less than the 3-goal leads we've held, but again, ten early halftime scores are not recorded.

On both occasions, we managed to draw from a seemilngly lost position. Our most recent recovery was in that tremendously exciting Crewe game in our 2010-11 championship season, when a 4-1 halftime deficit was turned into a 5-5 draw. Prior to that, we came back from 3-0 down at home to Doncaster in 1982-3 to earn a point.

Going deep into the history of Chesterfield football, CW Everest's Town team saw a Grimsby Town fightback turn a 3-0 Chesterfield lead into a 5-4 Mariners win in 1917, but this was in an era of wartime football and matches are not regarded as first-class. I personally recall seeing a shell-shocked Lincoln reserve side troop off the Saltergate turf 5-0 down at half time in 1991-2, before the mother of all half-time team talks saw them bring the game back to 5-5. A last-minute penalty finally settled the game in our favour.

It is important to remember that these are possibly not the only instances of us or our opponents being three up at some point in a game, and failing to win. What I've set out above are recoveries from a three-goal halftime deficit. And anyone who saw us surrender that lead at Morecambe can take comfort from the law of averages, which suggests that it'll be another 92 years before it happens again!

Low Gates

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 12:20 PM

The gate at Morecambe’s Globe Arena for Tuesday night’s visit of Chesterfield constituted 1,285 hardy souls. That goes down as the seventh-lowest gate figure for a Football League game involving Chesterfield since reliable records were first kept in 1926.

In Chesterfield Town’s Football League days there were reckoned to be a number of sub-1000 gates. Match reports of the game at home to Bolton in 1899-1900, the club’s first season, mention an estimated attendance of 500, and a report of the Luton game at Saltergate later that season says that the gate was lower than the Bolton one. Both of these were for midweek games, in poor weather.

Coming in at 6th place in Chesterfield’s all-time low league gate list is the 1,231 who attended the game at Wigan at the start of the 1994-5 season. Nine fewer people (but none of the same ones, I bet) attended the remarkably-named Holiday Park, in Durham, when Chesterfield went to play the City side in 1927. As few as 1,177 went to Rochdale to see us play in December 1984 - another season of success for Chesterfield.

Sensationally, there is a tie for second-place in the all-time lowest attendance list, with 1,039 folk coming to our games at Wrexham in 1984 and Ashington in 1929.

The worst? Eight days before that Wrexham game we went to The Shay, to play Halifax Town. They used to say that 1,001 cleaned a big, big carpet for less than half a crown, which was probably what Halifax Town found in its gatemen’s cash bags after that many fans showed up. Oddly, we played another game at The Shay four years later in the Associate Members' competition, and they declared the same attendance for that. Some of us present thought there were noticeably fewer than 1001 there that night and that the club had not wanted the embarrassment of a three-figure gate.

Looking beyond Football League games we’ve been involved in ten games that have drawn less than 1000 fans. They were all in the Associate Members Cup, or its pre-WW2 equivalent, and only two were at Saltergate; these were, bizarrely, a local derby against Mansfield, and the lowest reliably-recorded gate we’ve ever played in front of, 454 for Walsall’s visit in 1936 - again, a promotion season!