distinctive, enthusiastic Sean Dyche came to Chesterfield from Nottingham Forest as
a midfielder and made an immediate impact as the club reached their first
Division Four play-off final. Chris McMenemy started him as a right-sided
wing-back in `91-2, and Sean enjoyed a fine season, remaining
`ever-present'. Injury dogged five of his first six seasons, but he went
through `95-6, his seventh, in fine style, most of it as a third centre-half.
Sean was one of the club's most consistent performers of recent times, and the
team was generally worse for his absence.
Off the field, too, his influence on morale was powerful, and he was appointed captain for the semi-final season, Sean's last. This was, in many respects, his finest, and his stock appreciated with many performances that were at once stylish and determined; none more so, perhaps, than that in the F.A. Cup semi-final at Old Trafford, where the £7 million Fabrizio Ravanelli, who was on as much per week as the likes of Sean might have paid for a house, was effectively shackled. If that was not enough, Sean took the penalty that gave the Spireites a 2-0 lead, marching forward to take it and looking as though his head might pop with determination. That day, Chuck Norris would have let Sean take the penalty.
Sean was one of several members of that side who were rumoured to be on the shopping list of other clubs: Coventry were associated with his name for a long time. In the event, he signed for a Bristol City side that finished just above Chesterfield (and lost out in the play-offs). He said that he'd been impressed with the size and passion of their crowd on Chesterfield's visit to Ashton Gate at the end of the season - after 22,500 Town fans had roared themselves hoarse at Old Trafford and Hillsborough. A tribunal fixed the fee at the figure above, with more to come if City were promoted in three years, or sold him at a profit. Half of it had to be paid to Nottingham Forest, who retained a sell-on clause (ludicrous, really, after seven years and two changes of position), and a further ten percent was said to have been paid by the club to Sean, presumably something that was included in an earlier contract agreement.
Although no-one would have denied the opportunity to progress to such a player, the financial aspect of Sean's departure left fans feeling somewhat let down. At City, a back injury prevented his playing much of a part in the club's promotion to Division One in '97-8; his commitment to his new club was amply illustrated, though, by his involvement in a fracas in the stand with a supporter who was criticising Sean's team-mates. Upon City's promotion, Chesterfield received another £75,000.
Sean's time at Ashton Gate was pretty torrid. Injury restricted his availability in his first season, but he was restored to the side, as its skipper, at the start of '98-9. City started the season in dismal fashion, and Sean bore the brunt of fans' anger. He was dropped by John Ward, then fell completely out of the new manager's plans after Ward's sacking. His loan move to Luton quashed speculation of a return to Saltergate, and he joined Millwall in the summer of 1999.
Sean's reputation was restored at Millwall in three seasons and a "Bosman" move to Watford, where he was installed as club captain, followed in the summer of 2002 before a move to Northampton, with whom Sean won promotion to League One in 2006. When retirement came in the summer of 2007, Sean returned to Watford as a coach to their under-18 side. He became assistant manager to Malky Mackay in 2009, stepping into the manager’s shoes in July 2011 after Mackay’s move to Cardiff. Initial results were not encouraging but as the players adapted to his style The Hornets began to recover, and the team’s 11th-placed finish was its highest for four years.
Sean was abruptly and undeservedly sacked by Watford in the summer of 2012 after a change in club ownership, so that the new chairman could bring in his own man. In suffering this fate, Sean’s experience neatly mirrored that of his ex-Manager John Duncan, who was shown the door at Scunthorpe simply to make room for Allan Clarke, whose only real qualification was “mates with the Chairman.” In the wake of John Sheridan’s dismissal at Chesterfield in September 2012 Sean reportedly declared no interest in returning to his old club to take up the reins, and was installed as manager of Burnley in November of that year.
For Chesterfield: 219+12 league appearances, 8 goals.