As a Chesterfield supporter, the 2010-11 season has been one that I will never forget. After leaving Saltergate and moving to our new home of the B2Net Stadium, I knew that it would be an exciting time to be a Spireite, but the way the season has gone it has surpassed mine and everyone else’s expectations.
The first game of the new year, on the first day of the year, was another memorable game, especially for Spireite legend Jack Lester who bagged a hat trick as Chesterfield defeated struggling Stockport 4-1.
The rest of January saw Chesterfield continue to cement their place at the top of the league with 1-0 win against Stevenage and a 2-2 draw with Bradford City. January also saw two new ‘twisted spire’ statues placed outside the main entrance and these were a nice way to add a little more originality to the stadium and they also gave my Dad something else to photograph!
Chesterfield failed to win a home match in February with a 2-2 draw against Aldershot Town and a 2-0 defeat to Morecambe. The game against Aldershot was notable as it was Sian Massey’s first game back as official after the sexism scandal that culminated in the sacking of Andy Gray and Richard Keys from Sky Sports.
Despite a disappointing month at home, Chesterfield were still sat at the top of the league with just 3 months left to go and it was sure to be an exciting end to the season.
Looking at the fixture list going into March, I knew that it was going to be a massive month with home matches against fellow promotion challengers Wycombe Wanderers and Rotherham United , and it could make or break our season.
The game against Wycombe, who sat in second place at the time, was a game that I felt would all but seal promotion if we won, and we did so in style. Chesterfield came out and put Wycombe under intense pressure, and the Chairboys just couldn’t handle it. Chesterfield went into half time with a 2-0, and added two more to their total after the break, winning the game 4-1 with a superb performance.
A good 2-1 win over Northampton Town a week later held Chesterfield’s lead at the top of the table heading into the match against big rivals Rotherham. The game was a huge game for both sides, and with the game being live on Sky Sports, it only added to the pressure and excitement of the game.
The game couldn’t have gone any better, with new signing Dean Holden making it 1-0 on 21 minutes, before goals from Craig Davies and Jack Lester made it 3-0 before half time. Chesterfield’s ability to play their best football in the biggest games had continued, and the footballing massacre was completed with two more goals from ‘Super’ Jack Lester leaving the score at a huge 5-0! Sadly the Rotherham fans were understandably upset with their side’s performance, taking it out on the advertising boards and a couple of fans even stayed behind to moan at their team as they got onto the team bus. Nevertheless, it was an incredible day to be a Spireite and another game I will never forget – it’s not every day you beat one of your rivals 5-0.
A 2-0 victory over Port Vale and a 2-1 win against Macclesfield at the start of April put us on the verge of promotion, and Wycombe’s failure to beat Torquay on 22nd April meant that Chesterfield’s promotion was official, and we would be playing in League 1 next season. It was now about winning the title.
We decided to head down to Oxford a day later to watch Chesterfield face the U’s and enjoy the promotion party. Nearly 1,400 fellow Chesterfield fans travelled to the Kassam Stadium to celebrate promotion, and there was an incredible atmosphere in the away section of the ground. It was a beautiful sunny day and despite the great atmosphere and it being a new ground visit for me the actual match was rather disappointing and it ended goalless. This meant in the three league games I had seen Chesterfield play away from home, they had failed to score!
After the game against Rotherham, Chesterfield had been 13 points clear of second place in League 2, but coming into the penultimate home game against Bury there was just a 6 point difference between us and the Shakers. Bury had gone on a great run, winning 6 consecutive games and if they could beat us then there would be just a 2 point difference going into the last two games.
I was hoping that Chesterfield would come out and put intense pressure on Bury, just like they did in the big games against Wycombe and Rotherham. However it didn’t happen, in fact I am still unsure how Chesterfield managed to score twice in the match! Bury were the better side from the word go but despite being behind twice, the Spireites managed to equalise on both occasions. I was sat with just minutes to go, thinking that it was destined to end with a late Jack Lester winner to win us the title. Instead, it was Bury’s Ryan Lowe who scored the winner late on and I honestly felt that we had thrown the title away. Bury hadn’t looked like losing for a while and Chesterfield had a worse goal difference. I was bitterly disappointed to be watching Bury supporters celebrate promotion rather than celebrate Chesterfield winning the title.
A 1-1 draw with Torquay United seemed to have confirmed my fears and all Bury had to do was beat Wycombe to head into the final game sitting at the top of the table. I have never watch Sky Sports Score Centre so intensely! Thankfully, Wycombe managed to win the game 3-1 which meant that all Chesterfield now had to do was avoid defeat against Gillingham to lift the NPower League 2 trophy.
The atmosphere around the ground was superb before the game against Gillingham and the game was a sellout. Merchandise was on sale all around the ground, including flags, t-shirts and the brand new kits all celebrating this incredible season.
At the back of mind I was never really worried that Chesterfield wouldn’t get something from the game, and even if the worse should happen and Chesterfield lost, then Bury would still have to beat Stevenage which is no easy task. The first half was incredibly quiet with it ending goalless, while over in Stevenage the score was 2-2. In the second half Chesterfield came out and played like champions, winning the game 3-1 with goals from Danny Whitaker, Jack Lester and Deane Smalley winning us the title.
It was the first time in my life I had witnessed Chesterfield win a trophy, and it was an amazing moment and something that I will remember forever. The players came back out onto the pitch after the game to collect their medals, lift the trophy and celebrate with the fans.
Eventually the players headed down the tunnel and the stadium began to empty and the season was over. And what a season it has been. I have witnessed some of the best games I may ever see, including the 5-0 win against Rotherham and of course that incredible 5-5 draw with Crewe. I will never forget this season, and I have finally seen the Spireites win something which is a great feeling!
Hopefully next season can live up to the excitement of this one, and with matches against both Sheffield clubs, Notts County, Scunthorpe, Preston, Charlton and many more to look forward to who can say it won’t be. I feel the Spireites can definitely hold their own in League 1 next season, and maybe even push for the play offs.
Chesterfield Football Club – Npower League 2 Champions 2010/11