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Opposition in Focus: Chesterfield

Our look ahead to the teams we will be facing in the 2018/19 National League continues with Chesterfield, who have just been relegated from League Two.

Chesterfield
Fact file:
Nickname:    The Spireites
Founded:      1866 (Originally)
Ground:        Proact Stadium
Capacity:      10,504
Manager:      Martin Allen
Chairman:     Mike Warner
2017/18:       24th (League Two)

Consecutive relegations have seen Chesterfield drop out of the Football League and will put the Spireites among the larger clubs in the National League next season.

Having last played non-league football in 1921, the Spireites head into unchartered territory under new manager Martin Allen and will be the subject of a large squad rebuild following a number of high profile exits already this summer.

A poor run of form towards the end of their final games in League Two last term saw Chesterfield record just one win from their last nine, condemning them to a 24th placed finish and the National League along with fellow strugglers Barnet.

Former Queens Park Rangers midfielder Allen took over as manager after Jack Lester quit the club this summer and will be tasked with reclaiming Chesterfield’s Football League status at the first attempt.

The club had boldly moved from Saltergate in 2010, their atmospheric home since 1871, and took aim for the Championship in their new 10,000-seat stadium just a few years before their first relegation in 2017.

Founder members of the Third Division in 1921 and members of the Football League throughout the 97 years since, Chesterfield overcame a financial crisis in 2001 when the supporters trust took control, having to put it into administration before passing its running on to four wealthy local supporters who steered it back to solvency.

Manager – Martin Allen

Chesterfield boss Martin Allen enjoyed a successful career as a player, most notably with Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United.

Allen made over 100 appearances for both London clubs before moving to Portsmouth in 1997 and retiring with Southend the following year.

Often referred to by his nickname of “Mad Dog” during his playing days, Allen was renowned for his no-nonsense style.

Allen took his first management job with non-league club Barnet in 2003 before going on to manage a host of clubs including Leicester City, Notts County and Gillingham.

Having taken charge of Barnet on five separate occasions, he took the reins at Chesterfield on 15th May to succeed Jack Lester.

Allen, 52, who most recently managed in the National League with Eastleigh, becomes Chesterfield's fifth permanent manager in three years. In the fourth of his five spells in charge of Barnet, he led the club to the Conference title in 2014-15.

Key Players

Martin Allen stated his intention to retain some key players despite the club’s relegation into the National League, with as many as 10 players told they would be allowed to find new clubs.

Robbie Weir – Northern Irish midfielder Robbie Weir joined the Spireites just 48 hours before the start of the 2017/18 campaign following a successful trial with the club. An experienced player with spells at Burton Albion and Leyton Orient, Weir has made appearances for the Northern Ireland Under-21’s as well as for Northern Ireland B. He made 39 appearances for the Spireites last term, scoring two goals and pitching in with three assists.

Brad Barry – Reliable full-back Brad Barry made 29 appearances in his first season with the Spireites after his move from Swindon Town. Barry had risen through the ranks with Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion before an unfortunate injury sidelined him for 11 months in 2013, stunting his progression. The defender returned to captain the Under-23 side but was eventually released without making a first team appearance. Barry signed a two-year-deal with Chesterfield in the summer of 2017 and has proven himself able to fill in at centre back as well as on the right wing. 

Ones to Watch

Chesterfield’s relegation from League Two inevitably brought with it a number of outgoing players who had wanted to remain in the Football League. The departure of star striker Kristian Dennis, who left for Notts County, as well as loanees Andy Kellett and Louis Reed returning to their parent clubs meant the Spireites lost three of their four leading goalscorers from last season. Receiving plaudits for his minimalistic style in announcing them, manager Martin Allen has steadily begun a rebuild at the club with some promising signings in the hope of bouncing back into the football league.

Curtis Weston – Experienced midfielder Curtis Weston joined the Spireites on May 24th, having previously played for Football League clubs Leeds United, Barnet and Gillingham. Born in Greenwich, London, Weston was spotted when playing for his school team and subsequently joined the youth setup at Millwall. In only his second appearance for Millwall's first team, he replaced player-manager Dennis Wise in the 89th minute of the 2004 FA Cup Final against Manchester United to become the youngest FA Cup finalist at the age of 17 years and 119 days. Weston was a Conference Premier winner during his six years with Barnet and held the captaincy at the club during their title-winning campaign.

Michael Nelson – Another experienced addition for the Spireites came in the form of defender Michael Nelson on May 22nd. At 38-years-old, Nelson has spent time with Barnet and Cambridge United in recent years but is best known for his six years with Hartlepool between 2003-2009. After signing a one-year-deal with the club, manager Martin Allen declared his new defender as a ‘leader of men who knows how to win games.’