Chesterfield 2-1 Bournemouth – League 2 – The Last Game at Saltergate

After 10 years for me, 33 years for my Dad and 139 years in total, the final countdown on Chesterfield’s home of Saltergate finally reached zero. Chesterfield’s game against Bournemouth was the last game ever to be played at Saltergate, before the side move to the B2net stadium next season.We took plenty of photos on this brilliant, yet sad day.

The Pomegranate

The day began at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield, where an event was taking place to look back at the history of Saltergate. Before heading to the theatre we popped up to Saltergate to buy the special programme for the game. It was wonderful programme, well worth the £6 price tag, full of stories, pictures and history

Old Chesterfield legends like Ernie Moss, Kevin Randell, Sean O’Neill and manager John Duncan were there talking about their memories. Also telling the fans their stories and memories were Albert Collins of the 1945 War Cup semi final side, Keith Havenhand, Bob Newton and from more recent times Gareth Davies and Aaron Downes.

The entire show was brilliant. Old videos and pictures from as early as the 1900’s were shown, clips from the 1995/6 FA Cup final run and videos of classic matches along with memories of the players and fans.

After this show we called in The Barley Mow pub on Saltergate and met Bournemouth fan Vinny Goodfield, who wrote an article for the programme today.We also called into another pub and caught up with Tim Rigby, from the brilliant groundhopping website ‘tims92’ , Duncan Adams from footballgroundguide.com and Owen Pavey who often takes photographs for the football ground magazine “Groundtastic”.All of these football ground lovers had made the effort to get to saltergate today.

The Famous Crooked Spire

The Pomegranate Theatre

A poster for the event

A packed house...

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Phil Tooley presents the show

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an very old photograph of Saltergate

Albert Collins from the 1945 War Cup semi final side

Keith Havenhand

Ernie Moss and Kevin Randell

Chesterfield legend Ernie Moss with his original kits

 

John Duncan, manager of the semi final side of 1995

 

Chester outside the Pomegranate

The Match

With a sell out at Saltergate today, including season ticket holders, Bournemouth fans, groundhoppers and people who had just come for the occasion, the ground was a lot busier outside the ground than usual. We wandered around taking photos of the crowds building and taking in the atmosphere. It’s hard to believe that was the last time I will ever stand outside Saltergate on a matchday.

I then entered the ground through the turnstiles for the final time, went up the ramp I have gone up almost every week for the past few years, walked along Compton Street and sat in my seat, ironically numbered ‘147’ ,for the final time.

The ground was buzzing, even though ,barring a miracle, it meant nothing position wise. Though for me today wasn’t about league position’s, how good or bad the manager and team are, it was about the history and memories for every single fan that has ever watched a game at Saltergate.

Fans were dressed up, flags were being hung all around, the Kop was packed full of Spireites singing, every stand was almost full, with only a few empty seats and it reached the highest attendance I had ever seen at the ground in 10 years. 7,702 might not sound a lot to bigger teams, but for us that’s a lot!

The players came out of the tunnel for the last time to the tune of ‘The Final Countdown’, which has been playing for the past year in the build up of today!

Sadly the first half of the game was a bit flat and didn’t go the way I would have liked. Both sides had chances but neither really getting close to scoring. Right on half time Drew Talbot headed the ball into his own net to give the already promoted visitors the lead. I was very disappointed as I desperately didn’t want Chesterfield to lose their last ever game at Saltergate.

The second half didn’t get off to much of a better start, and I began to fear the worst. However on the 80th minute Jack Lester fired home for what seemed to be the last ever goal at the famous old ground. When the announcement went out that there would be 6 minutes added time, there was a real feeling from the fans that we could go on and win it. The fairytale ending came true on the 96th (!) minute when Chesterfield’s longest serving player, Derek Niven scored a wonderful goal from just outside the box to give the home side the win and write his name in the history books as the last player to score at Saltergate.

After the game there was a pitch invasion, and all the players, manager and chairman Barrie Hubbard sad a few words to the fans. The atmosphere was great and it felt like we had been promoted, never mind finishing 8th! There was a strange feeling as we walked around the ground for the final time on a matchday, knowing that I would never watch another game here again.

After 10 years I will definitely miss Saltergate as I have been going there since I was just 4 years old when I saw Barnet win 2-1 on 2nd September 2000. However if the club is ever going to move forward then they really need to move to the B2net stadium.

It may be falling apart, be covered in rust and have trees growing all over the stands, but Saltergate will forever be in every Spireite’s heart and memories…

Chesterfield v Bournemouth, the last game

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Chesterfield Football Club's main reception

'Sir' Jeff Hall with his dog

with Ernie Moss holding his original Chesterfield kits

The packed Barley Mow

Me and my Dad with Vinny, a Bournemouth fan who wrote an article for the programme

with Tim from tims92

"Programmes!"

The crowds begin to arrive

Stewards Shane and Jonathon

A few bits of merchandise on sale outside the ground

A different view of Saltergate

A banner inside the ground

The main stand, with the players tunnel at the bottom of the picture

Saltergate regulars!

Physio and Chesterfield legend Jamie Hewitt before the game

Bournemouth and ex-Chesterfield player Steve Fletcher warms up

Even the away end is packed full of Spireites

More flags

Compton Street, the stand I have sat in for many years

from ground level...

Supports on Compton Street wearing hats and carrying flags

The teams line up for the final time at Saltergate

with Chester!

A Cameraman's view

with Chris Handzel who is literally a blue boy!

A packed Kop

Goal!!!!!!!

Rob Page becomes the last player to get booked at Saltergate

On the pitch!

The last two men to score at Saltergate, Jack Lester and Derek Niven, make a speech

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The Camera

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The pitch invasion gradually clears

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Blue boys

A True Spireite!

John Sheridan does his last interview at Saltergate

Mr Geoff Mitchell

Player of the Season, goalkeeper Tommy Lee

Saltergate, The Final Chapter

The past...

..the future

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4 comments

  1. Ryan, this is a really nicely presented piece with some nice photos. Keep up the good work !

  2. Nice work, Ryan. Terrific photos and well presented. I don’t know how you do it but that might have something to do with my age…

    I’m sure you will set to love the new ground as well before long. All the best CC

  3. bournemouth fan here who was a the match, good report! id never visited saltergate before but really enjoyed the occasion( even though we lost!). It felt similar to the last ever game at the old dean court a few years ago, and its always sad to see another old ground closed, but then things have to move on. Good to see fletch getting such a good reception from chestfield fans as well. Anyway look forward to visiting the b2net stadium with the cherries when the time arises(maybe if you get promoted this season!). All the best.

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