Chesterfield Football Club
Chesterfield Football Club was set-up by a group of cricketers in 1867, making it the fourth oldest club in the Football League. The Spireites, as they are affectionately known, play their home games at the Recreation Ground and enjoy a fierce local rivalry with near neighbours, Mansfield Town.
The club have never played in the top tier of English football and have spent the majority of their existence in the lower echelons of the football pyramid. However, with a new stadium on the horizon and on-field performances impressing fans and pundits alike, things are starting to look up for the Derbyshire club.
Early History (1867 – 1939)
Football has existed in Chesterfield for more than 141 years and, despite the club’s official formation in 1867, many believe it was actually formed a year earlier. The club is the fourth oldest in the Football League – behind Notts County, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday – according to the first documentary evidence, which was an advert placed by Chesterfield Cricket Club in a local newspaper, looking for players.
Soon after its formation, the club became independent of its cricketing parent but by the 1880’s had to disband due to financial trouble. The club was reformed as Chesterfield Town and won its first silverware in 1890, in the form of the Alfred Barnes Charity Cup.
As the club progressed, the Spireites joined the Midland Counties League, before being elected to the Football League, just before the turn of the century. After ten years of struggle in the Football League, patience wore thin and Chesterfield failed to be re-elected. This move saw the Spireites re-join the Midland Counties League and in their very first season they finished as champions.
Despite finishing runners-up thee years later, by 1915 mounting debts left the owners no choice but to go into voluntary liquidation – a new Chesterfield Town FC was born. The newly formed side won the League for the second time in 1920 and became founder members of the Football League Division Three (North) just two seasons later.
After several successful seasons in the newly modified league, the Spireites clinched promotion to Division Two, after winning the championship at a canter in 1931. Following promotion, the club yo-yoed between the two divisions before the Football League programme was abandoned due to the outbreak of World War II.
Post War (1947 – 1970)
The club reached its highest ever position – fourth in Division Two – in the season immediately after the War but instability soon struck Chesterfield. The club were relegated once more in 1951, before re-organisation of the Football League at the end of the fifties placed them in Division Three.
Chesterfield struggled in their new environment and a poor season resulted in relegation to Division Four at the start of the sixties. The decade was spent doggedly vying for promotion from Division Four but it wasn’t until the end of the decade that promotion was finally achieved, as the Spireites were crowned champions after an awe-inspiring campaign.
The Seventies and Eighties (1970 – 1989)
The whole of the seventies were spent in Division Three, as the club became a mediocre mid-table side but it did show the odd glimpse of class now and again. It wasn’t until 1983 that the club left Division Three, but not in the manner fans would have hoped, as a poor season resulted in relegation.
Chesterfield fought back impressively following the disappointment of relegation, as they finished Division Four champions at the second time of asking. After four years of struggle, the club returned to Division Four in 1989 and remained there until the mid-nineties.
The Derbyshire club returned to the third tier of English football – then known as Division Two, following the Premiership’s formation – in 1995, through the playoffs after Bury succumbed 2-0 in the final at Wembley. Chesterfield’s most successful period was to follow as an incredible FA Cup run in 1997 led them to within touching distance of the FA Cup final.
A fantastic run that saw the Spireites overcome Bristol City, Bolton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and Wrexham set-up a semi-final showpiece with Middlesbrough at Old Trafford. The clash will live long in the memory and will go down as one of the FA Cup’s best and most dramatic games.
The Spireites eventually lost in a replay to their Premiership opponents, but many argue that the first match should have been won by Chesterfield, after a refereeing blunder. As the match went to extra time, referee David Elleary missed the ball crossing the line, although TV replays showed it clearly.
Despite going so close, the club became the first from outside the top two divisions to reach this stage of the competition, since 1984. As the club looked to push on from their cup success, a failed attempt to gain planning permission for a new ground at Wheeldon Mill left them at their crumbling Recreation Ground home, known commonly as Saltergate.
As progress stalled, Chesterfield were relegated to Division Three at the end of the 1999/00 season, after a club record 21 games without a win.
New Millennium (2000 – 2008)
A new millennium brought with it new confidence and despite having suffered relegation, the club bounced back the following season, finishing in third place and achieving promotion. However, the off-field trauma overshadowed the Spireites’ success, as financial irregularities saw them have nine points deducted.
In 2002 the club was taken over by the Supporters’ Trust who saw off the controversial previous incumbent, Darren Brown, and looked into a move to Wheeldon Mill once more. As debts were cleared, the Trust instead looked into a possible move to an old glasswork site.
Since then things have developed quickly and the proposed 10,500 all-seater stadium is expected to be ready during the 2008-09 season. The new stadium could well be welcoming League One football next season, judging on the side’s performances.
Under the tutorship of Lee Richardson, his charges have built on the previous season’s League Cup successes, having knocked out two Premiership clubs, and a mix of youth and experience have seen the Spireites remain in the promotion hunt.
- Address: Chesterfield Football Club, Recreation Ground, Saltergate, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S40 4SX
- General Enquiries: 01246209765
- Ticket Enquiries: 01246209765
- Youth Development: 01246209765
- Commercial Department: 01246231535
- Football in the Community: 01246550930
- Club Fax: 01246556799
- Website: Official Website
- Travel Info: Nearest Railway Station – Chesterfield Railway Station (0.5 miles) & Nearest Motorway Junction – M1 Junction 29 (5.4 miles)
- Third Division (North) – Champions (1930/1931 & 1935/1936)
- Fourth Division – Champions (1969/1970 & 1984/1985)
- Anglo-Scottish Cup – Champions (1980/1981)
- Most League Appearances: 617 Dave Blakey (1948-1967)
- Most League Goals: 162 Ernie Moss (1968-1974)
- Youngest Player: Dennis Thompson, 16 Years 159 Days
- Oldest Player: Billy Kidd, 40 Years 232 Days
- Best League Position: 4th in Division 2 (1946-47)
- Highest Attendance: 30,968 v Newcastle United, Division Two, 7th April 1939
- Best League Win: 10-0 v Glossop 17th January 1903, Division 2
- Worst League Loss: 0-10 v Gillingham 5th September 1987, Division 3
- Most Capped Player: Walter McMillen, 4 caps, Northern Ireland
- Most Goals in a Season: Jimmy Cookson, 44, Division 3 (1925/1926)
- Highest Transfer Fee Received: £750,000 Kevin Davies to Southampton, May 1997
- Highest Transfer Fee Paid: £250,000 Jason Lee to Watford, August 1998