The idea of having an individual in charge of team affairs occurred to the folk Chesterfield as early as 1871, when the Secretary was invested with "full powers of management" on match days. This might well be the first such reference to the idea of management in football history, but Chesterfield Town's earliest Secretary/Managers were not professionals: their first Football League spell was very nearly over before they appointed a "football man," and it would be the late 1950s, and perhaps even later, before Chesterfield FC trusted its manager enough to let him pick the team!

Until 1895 the position of Secretary was an honorary one, and it usually changed every season. The last of Chesterfield Town's Honorary Secretaries was its finest; one Edwin Russell Timeus. Tavistock-born, Timeus came to Chesterfield to work as an estate manager for the Duke of Devonshire. He began playing for the Town club in 1887 but was no great shakes, and usually served as a stand-in goalie. He was a better cricketer, though, and played for Chesterfield against an All England side that included WG Grace at the Recreation Ground in 1890.

Timeus served around five years as Secretary and guided the club through its first seasons of competitive football in the Sheffield League. His meticulous approach established a good reputation for the club that enabled it to make many friends on its way up. As the club grew, though, the demands that it placed on Timeus's time proved too great, and he voluntarily stood aside in favour of a Scot named Gilbert Gillies.

Like Timeus, Gillies (pictured above) had no pedigree as a footballer. The son of an Argyllshire shepherd, Gillies was born on the shores of Loch Ederline in 1869. By 1891 he'd been sent to live in Chesterfield with an uncle, who kept a pub, the Square and Compasses, on West Bars. Gillies had a sufficiently good education to get work as a compositor for the Derbyshire Times.

Gillies became the Town club's secretary at the age of 26, in 1895. Quite how he made the leap to football secretary is a mystery, but the very fact that he could do probably casts light on the nature of the role at that time. Like Timeus, most of Gillies' good work was done off the field, spreading the Town club's good reputation, and Gillies accompanied the Chairman on the trip to London in 1899 to secure the club's election to the Football League.

As Secretary/Manager, Gillies would have been concerned with the minutiae of running the club on a day to day basis. There was some involvement on the playing side: he would have scouted, signed and paid the players, although board members would usually go to watch a player before signing him; the board decided who played each week and the trainer usually had matchday responsibility for tactics, especially at away games, which were not always attended by the Secretary/Manager. In summary, perhaps, the Secretary/Manager might have run things in the way that a modern "Director of Football" does.

After a successful first season the team struggled in its second. Gillies had used his contacts to bring several Scottish players to the club, and some of these were conspicuous failures. Despite any recorded criticism of him, Gillies resigned in December 1900, before his last Scottish signing - Jimmy Haig - made his Chesterfield debut. Ironically, Haig would become a mainstay of the club's Edwardian era.

Gillies continued to live and work in Chesterfield, remaining involved with the club and also took up refereeing to a good standard, until the newly-established Leeds City club advertised for a manager to take them into the Football League. From a large pool of applicants, Gillies was given the job, in March 1905. He remained at Leeds until resigning in February 1908.

In May 1908 Gillies was recruited by the newly-formed Park Avenue club in Bradford, to spearhead their campaign for a place in the Football League. He was Secretary/Manager there in 1908 when they successfully petitioned the League for election. Thus was established an unmatched record that Gillies probably deserves a lot more recognition for; namely, that he managed three clubs in their first seasons in the Football League.

As at Chesterfield and Leeds, his Park Avenue time was brought to a slightly unsatisfactory end by resignation after feeling that he'd lost the support of nervous directors, in 1911. After that, his football involvement appears to have ceased, and he returned to North Derbyshire to enter the licensed trade in Matlock.