This day in Spireite History: December 26th

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 6:40 AM

Given its status as a “traditional” football day it shouldn’t come as much surprise to learn that we’ve played more on December 26 than any other day. Our 63 games to date have seen 27 wins, 16 draws and 20 defeats, with 93 goals being scored and 78 conceded. The game against York City is only our second Boxing Day home game in the last seven years – of the 63 games we’ve played on this day, 29 have been home matches.

Is this a traditional day for local “derbies?” the facts would appear to say not, with only 12 of our 63 games on this day being against local-ish sides in Mansfield Town, Notts County and Rotherham United.

The highest crowd ever to watch us play in the Football League – 61,879 – came to see us edged out 1-0 at White Hart Lane on this day in 1949.

We’ve met York City once before on this day, and it ended in a calamitous 1-7 defeat at Bootham Crescent in 1964.

Chesterfield took part in a real football rarity on this day in 1972 – the only Football League game that was played to a finish but subsequently re-played. We travelled to Blackburn Rovers for a fixture between two mid-table, third division sides, and gave a debut to new signing Jim Brown in the nets. We ran out 1-0 winners with a Frank Large goal to become only the second visiting side to win in the league at Ewood Park that season. Unfortunately, these were thedays when a dodgy fax machine was a mere figment of a crooked chairman’s imagination and Jim’s registration papers were geunuinely lost in the post. When thepapers arrived at League Mansions with a pre-matchday postmark it was clear that we’d acted properly, but rules were rules, and the game was ordered to be re-played, much to the delight of a Blackburn side that had been unbeaten in all but one of their games since losing to us. Justice was done when a Jackie Sinclair goal saw the Spireites to another 1-0 win, later that season.

Elsewhere in football, Ghana’s first football club – Excelsior – was formed on this day in1903. Football took quite a hold in the British colony of Gold Coast, as it was known, and Excelsior soon found themselves up against teams like Hearts of Oak, Venomous Vipers and my own personal favourite, the Mysterious Dwarves. (Hat tip to

This day in1935 saw Tranmere Rovers beat Oldham 13-4, with the Rovers forward “Bunny” Bell setting a new record (later eclipsed by Brimington’s Joe Payne) by scoring nine goals in a Football League game.


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!