We hear the sad news that the former Spireite Stan Machent
passed away in December 2012. Born in Chesterfield on March 23rd,
1921, Stan was an apprentice builder when his football career began with his
Chesterfield Ramblers - a prominent local amateur side full of solicitors,
bankers and the like - because they were an ageing team and needed the thrust
of youth. He had come to the attention
of Chesterfield and Sheffield United and, when Chesterfield offered him professional
terms in 1938, he alerted the Blades to this fact, and they made a better
offer. Stan's great promise was denied
the opportunity to develop by the war, but he made a name for himself in his
first season at Bramall Lane, setting a Yorkshire League record by scoring six
in a game, against Bolsover Colliery.
He remained on United's books for nine years, guesting for Chesterfield during the war, before re-joining the Spireites in a November 1947 deal that saw £6,000 and Dick Cushlow move to United. The Spireites were languishing in the lower reaches of Division Two at the time, and were incapable of scoring: the import of Stan, Tommy Capel and Peter Robinson sparked a revival that saw the team climb as high as eighth. Being already familiar to supporters, Stan perhaps didn’t quite capture the imagination as much as the two ex-Manchester City men mentioned above, but he proved his worth from his very first game, where he scored one goal and made another for Chris Marron in a 2-1 win.
Sadly, a twice-broken arm restricted him to just 17 games in his
and a knee injury sustained in the fourth game of the 1948-9
season did not
clear sufficiently to allow him to play for the first team again. Stan was transfer-listed
at £6,000 – an unrealistic amount for a 28-year-old with an injury record - at
the end of 1948-9. The feudal system of
'retain and transfer' prevented his signing for another league club without
Chesterfield’s permission and ended his first-class career, and he moved to a
Buxton team that seemed to contain many ex-Chesterfield players trapped by the
same situation . While at Buxton,
Stan helped them reach the third round of the FA Cup in 1951-2, beating
Aldershot on the way.
Two years later he accepted a good offer to join an ambitious Hereford United side but his Edgar Street adventure lasted only three months - even for a home game, Stan's day started at seven in the morning and involved two changes of train and a walk across Birmingham - and he saw out the rest of his career in a more local setting.
Stan and his wife took a shop on Storrs Road, and Stan also served as player-coach to Chesterfield’s Yorkshire League side from 1954, leaving when that side was disbanded as an economy measure at the end of the 1954-5 season. Stan took up a position as a maintenance man at the Royal Hospital and he remained a regular at Saltergate until advancing years and the loss of his great friend Joe Spence in 2009 began to impact on his attendance.
Stan’s brother Arthur was a Chesterfield player in the early 1930s, and his brother in law played under the pseudonym of “Tony Cooper” ten years before that. As far as we are aware Stan was our last surviving pro footballer with a pre-war Chesterfield connection. We send our deepest condolences to Stan’s family and friends.