view:  full / summary

Next season's away shirts- and their predecessors

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 6:45 PM

The Club is asking the fans to vote of next season’s awayshirt.  The page to see the selections is here.

Over the last 50 years we have worn change kits in thirteen different colours with a couple of distinctive third strips as well.  The majority of those change strips were red although this figure is skewed by a run of red through the sixties and into the seventies.  We then went for first amber then tangerine as colours were changed every one or two seasons.

The second most popular recent hue is white which is our first option for 2013-14.  That first choice is all white shirt with minimal blue piping that will go with royal blueshorts and white socks.  This representsa reverse of our usual home colours and is close to the one worn a couple of seasons ago.

The second choice is based on the 1994-96 shirt that was inspired by a fans’ competition.  Andy Barker, now our match day cameraman, came up with the design basing it on a nineteenth century home kit that was produced but may not have been worn competitively.  The green and white stripes will be paired with similar navy shorts like in the nineties.

As well as red, white, amber,  tangerine,  and the green and white the club has worn away shirts of many other colours in recent years. Yellow or yellow and green, navy, sky blue including one with distorted white stripes, maroon,  green and the current gold.  There has also been third shirts of dark green and the infamous and illegal silver one under Darren Brown’s regime.

We also had one black shirt in 2003-4.  This was with blue shoulder flashes.  The third choice for next season is black but with a white “Puma flash” on the shoulder. This will be paired with black shorts.

Voting is by email and you have a fortnight to make your choice known.


Sub record corrected

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 2:20 AM

Not for nothing does my Twitter biography call me a "purveyor of occasionally erronious historical football info to the good people of Chesterfield." Thankfully, an army of a couple of people swing into action at every claim, to check it and correct where neccessary. When you're dealing with thousands of facts a day, the odd error is likely to creep in.

The thing on the "Sky is Blue" Facebook page about our recent subless game at Dagenham is a case in point. Looking back through old records it appeared to be our first subless Football League game in 46, but the reality is much more grand. An error on data entry caused me to miss substitutes off part of the line-up grid for last season, and in fact, our last subless Football League game before the Daggers one was at Brentford on March 17th, 2009, a game which, coincidentally, was also won 1-0.

183 Football League games passed between the Brentford and Dagenham matches, and Chesterfield used at least one substitute in all of those. It means, of course, that John Sheridan used at least one substitute in each of his 141 games in charge.

Tommy Lee and Drew Talbot were the only survivors from the first game to play in the second, although Jack Lester is of course still at the club.

This day in Spireite History: February 26th

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 2:15 AM

The former England international Joe Spence made his last Chesterfield appearance on this day in 1938 in a 4-0 defeat at Bury that might have been the catalyst for our appropriating their manager at the end of that season. Not that that sort of thing could ever happen again, of course!

This was Spence’s 614th league appearance, a record for any player between the wars. With this last game coming at the age of 39 years and 75 days, Joe became our oldest-ever player, although four others - Billy Kidd, Mark Crossley, Lawrie Madden and Wayne Allison - have since overtaken him. Those who consider modern football to be a young man’s game will be able to reflect on the fact that many of us will have seen three of those four in Spireite colours.


This day in Spireite History: February 23rd

Posted on February 23, 2013 at 4:45 AM

Be it ever so humble...

Chesterfield have played 11 Football League games on this day and, remarkably, all bar one have been at home. Our solitary away game was our first, a 3-2 win at Hartlepool in 1924; every game we’ve played in the league since (from 1929) has been at our place.


Results tend to come in clumps for us, on this day. Our first four February 23 games were won, then we went 51 years without gaining maximum points, and we’ve won the last two to end that gloomy sequence, those recent wins being a 1-0 success against Brentford in 2008, and another one-niller, this time against Crewe two years later. Our only defeat on this day was the 2-3 reverse against Grimsby Town in 1980. The goalless draw with Cardiff in 1991 remains the only game on this day in which we have failed to find the net.


We’ve seen only two Spireite debuts on this day, both against Brentford in 2008, when Peter Hartley and David Dowson each made their first appearance for us. Dowson has cause to remember it well, since he scored within four minutes of the kick-off to register one of the quickest debut goals from kick-off ever.


Players with birthdays today include Arthur Lacey, Wade Small and Rob Edwards. Lacey played for three different Chesterfield Football Clubs either side of the Great War. His father played in a “union Jack” shirt for the old Town club and, after being overlooked at the start of Chesterfield’s 1921-2 Football League adventure, he was brought in to stabilise the side’s creaking half-back line, appropriately enough, for someone who had seen war service inside the engine rooms of battleships. After football he became the superintendent of the Markham Baths and moved around the country to hold similar positions in Hereford and Watford, where he settled to become a town councillor. Away from football he was a keen ice skater, gun enthusiast and pig breeder.


Rob Edwards we remember as one of a few quality left-backs we’ve seen in the last thirty years. He joined us from Huddersfield for around £20,000 near the start of the 2000-1 season and went back there after 89 league starts, when they realised their mistake in letting him go. In between times we quickly came to appreciate Rob’s work in both defence and attack, where he scored seven goals and set up many more with his precise left foot. Rob was last heard of giving something back to the game as a player/coach at Holmfirth Town, in the Huddersfield & District League.


This Day in Spireite History: January 12th.

Posted on January 12, 2013 at 5:45 AM

Nine Football League games played on January 12th have seen Chesterfield win four and lose five, with no draws. Three out of four homes on this day have been won, with our only defeat being to Scarborough in 1991, when the first match of Chris McMenemy’s period of management rather set the tone for much of the rest of it. Phil Brown’s two penalties secured a win over today's opponents Northampton in 1985, while a single Trevor Hebberd goal on a howlingly cold Boothferry Park night secured our only win in Hull, ever, in the Autoglass Trophy. Our last home game on this day was the 4-2 win over Oldham that came with goals from Glynn Hurst (2,) Mark Allott and Jamie Burt.

January 12th 1895 saw Chesterfield Town play in front of their lowest recorded crowd, home or away. With the counter-attraction of a cup tie taking place at nearby Bramall Lane, a reporter estimated that only twelve people turned up to watch us win 4-3 at Sheffield club. A Mr. EH Brown, a local auctioneer and Chesterfield Town committee man, was pressed into service on the right wing after a Town player failed to arrive.

Winger Harold Roberts was born on this day in 1920, while this day has seen Chesterfield debuts made by Fred Barber and Brendan Moloney.

This day in 1999 saw Chesterfield involved in another footballing oddity of a game against Darlington. As with the 1923 “cricket pitch” game featured in an earlier blog post, this was caused by Feetham’s being unfit, but in this instance the sides’ Autoglass Trophy match was played at Saltergate, being the first time that the venue for a cup tie involving Chesterfield had been switched since we played our “home” Football League Cup tie with Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road in 1960 because the directors gloomily concluded that no-one would come to watch a midweek afternoon League Cup game at Saltergate.The 1999 match resulted in a 2-0 win for ourselves, in front of 1391 spectators, which would have set us up nicely for qualifying from the three-team group, had we not gone and shipped three goals at Wrexham in our second group game.


January 9th, 1954

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 3:10 AM

Keith Marsden (partly hidden) heads Chesterfield into the lead against Bury in an FA Cup, third round match played at The Recreation Ground on this day in 1954. George Smith, from whose collection this image came, is the other Chesterfield player. Chesterfield went on to win 2-0.

Tony McShane

Posted on January 6, 2013 at 5:30 AM

The former Chesterfield manager Tony McShane passed away in Plymouth on Christmas Eve, 2012.


Belfast-born, Tony joined Plymouth as a 21-year old wing-half and won promotion to division two with them in 1952. He moved on to Swindon before cutting his managerial teeth at Goole Town. Nine weeks as Scunthorpe manager saw him save the Iron from relegation to division three in1959 (and looks like a lifetime’s achievement, next to the three days in the job enjoyed by his successor!)


When Chesterfield came calling McShane was working as an FA coach in Cornwall, while running his own grocery business although he reportedly turned down a job coaching in Nigeria to come here. Much was made of McShane’s demand to have “full powers of management” seceded to him. Perhaps Tony McShane was the first Chesterfield manager to pick his team without the board’s input.


He inherited a team that had just finished in its lowest-ever position and little cash was provided to improve it. Typical of the restrictions that McShane laboured under is the fact that, for the early part of his reign, he was forced to sign unmarried players only, since the club lacked houses to accommodate families. John Meredith was an early import, and he introduced a more competitive approach to training, but his most significant early move was to organise youth trials and set up a proper apprenticeship scheme. The likes of John Beresford and Tony Hallam were early products of this system.


The lack of money was a constant handicap. McShane negotiated a deal to sign Ron Davies, a blond centre-forward from Chester for a £3,000 fee but the club could not find the money. Luton nipped in and sold him on for £35,000 in 1963; Davies went on to score 134 goals in division one and play 29 times for Wales.

There was an air of depression about the club in the early1960s that McShane was unable to lift. In truth, Mourinho would have struggled to lift the spirits of that side. Despite the occasional promising start the team did not finish above twelfth in his time here, since too many players understood that they didn't have to make an effort to get into the team. The effort put in by the likes of Albert Holmes and Albert Phelan was negated by players who came on a free, picked up a wage and were moved on, usually to the non-league game, a year later.  McShane’s inability to motivate his charges appeared real enough, and his attempts to get more out of them by playing them out of their established positions assumed an almost legendary, comic status among supporters.

 The 1963-4 squad take a break from training at Pitt Street. Tony McShane is second from the left.

McShane played the old “I’ll drop the lot of you” card in December 1965 after a lack of effort from senior pros, threatening to bring inthe reserves, although his position was somewhat weakened by the fact that the reserves had won just two of their nineteen games thus far! Needless to say, this outburst had no effect on players who knew they were safe until the end of the season.


Despite the manager’s apparent failings, though, the board should be apportioned a lot of the blame for the club becoming a traditional fourth division side. After all, McShane hadn’t even signed as a player for Plymouth when the rot began. His efforts to bring unknowns through were often successful (the majority of the 1969-70 championship team were signed by McShane) and it was hardly his fault that the only experienced players he could sign were those that were largely unemployable elsewhere and couldn’t be bothered, here. It wasn’t until half of the board resigned to make way for new blood in 1966 that a speck of light was seen at the end of a long tunnel.


Any improvement this brought did not come in time to save McShane. He was reported to have resigned in July 1967 with ten months remaining on his contract. Tony McShane returned to the Plymouth area and became a good golfer, writing an occasional column on the sport for the Plymouth Independent newspaper. He also managed an Oxfam shop. His experience of Saltergate life in the 1960s wasn’t entirely wasted, then.


This Day in Spireite History: December 29th

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 5:00 AM

We’ve played eleven Football League games on December 29th, winning eight and losing two. Eight of these eleven games have been played at home: only Stockport’s 1-1 draw at Saltergate in 1990 prevents us from enjoying a 100% record in these home games. We haven’t lost on this day since going down 1-0 at our good old local Christmas rivals Plymouth, in 1979.


Our last home outing on this day was the 2-1 win over Notts County in 2001, in what became Nicky Law’s last game as our manager. Mark Allott scored his first Chesterfield goal that day and, as one lengthy Chesterfield career began, another ended, as Jamie Hewitt was called upon to make what became his last competitive appearance for the club. It was some game, too, with the ref having to be subbed after five minutes, County’s keeper being sent off and Allott’s late winner sparking the first of his memorable corner flag celebrations.


In our earlier years there was high scoring on this day; an 1894 friendly at Loughborough was lost 9-0 by the old Town club, who put seven goals past Gainsborough Trinity on December 29, 1906, with Herbert Munday scoring four.

On this day in 1923 Chesterfield played a Football League game on an arena that was used only once for such a thing. The team arrived in Darlington to find that the Feetham’s pitch, cut up from a previous match, had frozen solid before it could be repaired and was thus unsuitable for football. Next door, however, the Darlington Town Cricket Club pitch was frozen, but flat, and in those days that meant that the surface was playable. The resourceful Quakers marked out a football pitch on that and, after securing promises that neither side would protest about the result, the referee allowed the match to go ahead on the cricket enclosure. Darlo ran out 2-1 winners. If you don’t count the Feetham’s football and cricket pitches as being on the same ground, then his might well stand as the only occasion on which a ground was used for a single Football League game. The photo above shows action from that game; with the offside law then requiring more than two defenders to be between the ball and the goal to play a man onside, Darlo can safely leave their centre-half on the six-yard box as Chesterfield attack, and still catch the forwards offside.

The matches scheduled to be played on December 29th 1962 were the first to be postponed in a long stretch of poor weather that saw no games played for more than two months, in many clubs' cases. After losing to Gillingham on Boxing Day of that year, Chesterfield didn’t play again until March 6 1963, and didn’t play a home game between December 23 and March 9. To squeeze rearranged games in, The Spireites played games on Saturday and Monday, with the latter being used for home games since it was still the traditional “early closing” day for much of town. In all, eight home games took place on a Monday that season.

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.


The first black player on The Rec?

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Our own Peter Foley, the 1960s? Doncaster's Charlie Williams, a decade earlier? Think sixty years before that!

Step forward Arthur Wharton, widely accepted as the first black professional footballer in the British game. There's a decent biography of him on the "Football Unites, Racism Divides" website here and I can't improve on that, but I can ofer the match reports from the two visits that Arthur made to the Rec in the 1890s.

Firstly, from the game between our first eleven and Rotherham Town Reserves, who went under the monicker of "Rotherham United," in February 1893. The Sheffield League encounter attracted "more than ordinary" interest, reflected in a 3,000 gate, but in a newspaper that would advertise "real negroes" in a production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" at the Stephenson Memeorial Hall around this time, no mention is made of the novelty of having a black player in our opponents' line-up.

Arthur came back with Shefield United's reserve side in his one Bramall Lane season, on Easter Monday, 1895. Again, no mention of Wharton beyond that directly confined to his work between the sticks.

In an age when you can't open a newspaper without reading about the latest moron making racially-based insults to some player or other, it is intriguing to think that Wharton's appearances in Chesterfield seemed to pass without any non-football-related comment. I'm guessing that local football supporters would have been familiar with him and his story, and would have been concerned only with the quality of his goalkeeping. Then again, in this era, the local nut-jobs still had their cockpits and dog fights to entertain them!