The elder brother of Chesterfield’s Freddie, Tommy Capel signed pro forms for Manchester City in April 1946 but played only nine times in 18 months before his transfer to Chesterfield. He arrived in October 1947 with Peter Robinson and a wedge of cash in an exchange deal that saw Billy Linacre go to Maine Road, the first in a number of transfer deals between Chesterfield and City in the years just after the war.
Many older fans still rate Tommy as the best player they’ve seen in a Chesterfield shirt. Direct and bustling, with clever ball control, he also had elements of the showman to his game that delighted Spireite fans as much as his prolific scoring.
Chesterfield appeared to be careless with quality forwards around this time, and Tommy was one of many good ones sold on as, according to the Chairman, the gates alone were incapable of sustaining Second Division football. Ironically, the sale of Capel and the likes of Harold Roberts, Chris Marron and Hugh McJarrow itself led directly to relegation in 1951, as replacements of a lesser calibre could not score enough goals to keep the club up.
Nottingham Forest recruited Tommy for a club-record £14,000 fee in November 1949, shortly after dropping into division three (south) and Capel’s goals helped propel them back into the second division at the first attempt. He enjoyed a prolific season at Coventry in 1954-5 and joined Halifax Town a year later, thus completing the (then) comparatively rare feat of playing for clubs in all four divisions of the Football League.
Tommy settled locally after pro football, seeing out his playing days with Heanor Town and Sutton Town.
For Chesterfield: 62 Football League appearances, 27 goals.