The Story of Chesterfield FC
In a history that has seen more days than not in the Football League, Chesterfield FC are currently entertaining a fourth consecutive campaign outside of England’s professional leagues. This season, the club will attempt to return to the historic, glory days of those gone past. The club joins an array of experienced Football League sides in the Vanarama National League for the upcoming campaign, in a list which includes: Notts County; Stockport County; Southend United; Hartlepool FC; and Wrexham FC.
Founded in 1866, the club was later rebirthed in 1919 after facing liquidation at the beginning of World War I. Formerly known as Chesterfield Town Football Club, the side rose through the ranks after their reincarnation, reaching the heights of the Football League Second Division, by the start of the Second World War.
The Late 20th Century
After flirting around the Third and Fourth Division for large parts of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, the highlight for The Spireites in the 20th century came in 1997; when the club reached the FA Cup semi-finals. An achievement that is yet to be matched, or bettered. Led by Manager: John Duncan, Chesterfield took on Middlesborough FC in a bid for a place in the FA Cup final. After drawing 3-3 in the initial game, the North Yorkshire side managed to get the better of their Third Division counterparts after securing a 3-0 victory in the semi-final replay.
The historic run to the FA Cup semi-final will remain as one of the greatest moments within the club’s history, however, the 1980-1981 campaign will be cherished as Chesterfield FC became the final team to ever win the Anglo-Scottish Cup. A tournament that put English and Scottish sides up against each other, five of the six winners of the competition resided south of the border. In a remarkable 2-1 win over local rivals Notts County, the two-legged final was capped with historic goals scored by Ernest Moss and Alan Crawford.
Many cite the Jamie Hewitt header at OT or the Kevin Davies hat-trick against Bolton, but may I present an alternative highlight of Chesterfield's run to the 97 FA Cup semi-final? pic.twitter.com/RdtCkAFooO
— Graham Smyth (@GrahamSmyth) December 1, 2018
Chesterfield FC in the 21st Century
After the turn of the century, the first key change was in the club’s stadium. Calling the Saltergate-based, Recreational Ground their own, the 8,000-seater would no longer be the home of Chesterfield Football Club after 2010. The final hoorah against AFC Bournemouth in May of that year ended a 139-year history at their former ground. In a new era for the club, they moved into the Proact Stadium to begin the 2010-11 season. Now known as the Technique Stadium, it has been their home for 11 years, in a decade that has provided many highs and lows.
In the first years in the new home, Chesterfield continued to bounce between the basement of England’s professional leagues. Following a ‘yo-yo’ period in their history which saw a mixture of promotions from League Two, and relegations from League One, fortunes were put to one side in 2012 as new owner David Allen helped catapult the club to two English Football League Trophy finals.
Guided by fan-favorite John Sheridan, the manager oversaw a glamorous victory against Swindon Town at Wembley in a 2-0 win, bringing a taste for silverware back to North Derbyshire. However, their moment in the sun soon came crashing down after suffering relegation in the same year. Since then, back-to-back relegations in 2017 and 2018 resulted in a demise from League One, to the fifth tier of English football.
The photograph says it all, well done Chesterfield FC. Chesterfield 2 Swindon 0. Wembley Stadium 25/03/2012 pic.twitter.com/mtWm8nbl
— John Lowe M.B.E. (@jloweprodart) March 26, 2012
The Highest of Highs, to the Lowest of Lows?
In more recent times, history has not been as kind to Chesterfield FC. After falling to the depths of the National League, the club fell to a place where they felt they did not belong. Whilst promotion was expected from the first campaign at this level, a 15th placed finish would be the result for the 2018-19 campaign, only to be followed up with a 20th placed finish the year after. Chesterfield’s demise was rather remarkable, for a club that had been in the professional leagues since the 1920-1921 season, The Spireites almost found themselves falling to the 6th tier of English football for the first time in their history.
Following on from their abysmal first two seasons in the National League, the appointment of James Rowe was the beginning of the tide being turned. Where six managers had all tried their hand at the helm prior to Rowe, including the loved John Sheridan, the young, 38-year-old who took over with the club sat in 22nd place in the league. Taking over during a precarious period, the young manager was able to guide the side to a 6th placed, playoff finish, before only narrowly suffering defeat to Notts County. Signing a three-year extended contract, Rowe will be hoping to further guide the club back to the Football League.
New Season, New Ambitions?
To mark the new campaign, Chesterfield hit the ground running with three consecutive 2-0 wins. Topping the league after a blistering start, James Rowe’s side beat Aldershot Town, Wealdstone FC, and King’s Lynn Town, to maintain a perfect start.
In the build-up to the season, the club made an array of eye-catching signings. Most noticeably with the acquisition of Kabongo Tshimanga. Often considered as potentially being ‘the next Jamie Vardy’, the former Borehamwood Town striker scored 19 goals in both of his last two seasons at this level. With all the attention on the new man, Tshimanga scored three goals in his first three games.
Chesterfield striker Kabongo Tshimanga has enjoyed a dream start at the Technique Stadium.
— Football Heaven (@footballheaven) September 3, 2021
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