Chris Marples came late to Chesterfield. A spell on non-contract terms in 1982 had put him on the club's radar but the loss of the entire management structure in the 1983 financial crisis also meant the loss of youth and scouting networks, so Chris drifted away from the club. He was on Goole's books
and playing Sunday football with Brampton Rovers when he was finally taken on in March 1984
before signing professional forms the following August.
Chris made his debut at
Bury and launched his career with a clean sheet as the Spireites' goal lay
under siege for most of the game. “Jed,” as he became known, won a Fourth Division championship
medal in his first season and, for a couple of years, at least, combined
football with first-class cricket, as Derbyshire's wicketkeeper. The
cash-strapped Spireites sold him to Stockport, where he joined Ernie Moss and
Phil Brown, and York paid their record fee for a 'keeper to take him to Bootham
Crescent. He was voted into the Fourth Division team of the season in '89-90
before losing his place: he was loaned to Scunthorpe in February of 1992 but
was sent off on his Iron debut.
John Duncan brought him back to Saltergate on loan in December '92, and the move became permanent a month later. He was looking solid and reliable when injury struck, against Shrewsbury in January, '94: he let a soft shot through his legs and, in reaching to reclaim the ball, dislocated a shoulder. He won his place back at the start of the '94-5 play-off season but sometimes played as if preoccupied by the injury: his bravery was never in question, though. A year after doing the shoulder, he charged to dive at the feet of a Scunthorpe player and broke his leg in two places. That injury ended his League career, but he went on to serve Unibond League Emley with distinction, particularly in their epic FA Cup run in '97-8.
Chris has regularly assisted with local radio commentary and has been the under-19 coach for Derbyshire County Cricket Club. At Ilkeston Town he became chief scout in the summer of 2000, becoming Reserves Coach in October of that year. He and another ex-Spireite, Ian Helliwell, became joint caretaker-managers at the New Manor after John McGovern's sacking in March 2001. He served as assistant manager to Nicky Law at Buxton and Alftreton Town until April 2008, by which time he had also started coaching at Chesterfield Cricket club. Away from football, Chris works as a sales executive for the Global Brands company.
Chris was given his unusual nickname by Bob Newton who, having seen Chris's first car, reckoned it looked like the beaten-up, pre-war Buick driven by Jed Clampett in the opening credits of "The Beverly Hillbillies," a 1960s American sitcom.
For Chesterfield: 141 Football League appearances. 51 clean sheets, 154 conceded.