This is my first post of the 2012-13 season due to my own ‘off the pitch matters’ keeping me more than occupied. Matters on, and more importantly off the pitch at the club have however forced my hand. It has been an interesting start to the campaign back in League Two, and doesn’t John Sheridan know it.
The first news to come out of the club before even a ball was kicked was what I’d been dreading would happen ever since our move to our fantastic new home two years ago. What had become known and accepted by the fans as the b2net Stadium was to become the Proact Stadium. This due to the b2net company being taken over by you’ve guessed it, Proact. If this is a theme to continue and it no doubt will in today’s world, we could end up with a newly named ground every couple of years. As fans we all understand the need for the club to attract as much revenue as possible to allow the club to move forward and survive. Some things however are incredibly important, the ground name being one of them. Surely a suitable name can be cemented alongside our new home and be ‘sponsored by…insert name as required’. This may not command as much of a fee from potential sponsors but would provide a much needed identity. Surely some things are simply too important to sell off to the highest bidder?
Having read through my last post following relegation from League One last season, Sheridan had received the dreaded backing of the board and was going to be given time to put the wrongs of last season right. That ‘time’ turned out to be 3 league games which included an opening day defeat at Wimbledon which by all accounts we should have easily won, and draws at home to Rochdale and local rivals Rotherham. The sacking came as a huge shock, not the actual sacking itself as last seasons negativity was still hanging around the club, more the timing of it. I’m sure there was a relatively even split between fans regarding if Sheridan should still have been at the club, I was willing to give him a chance. However to allow him time and money in the Summer to shape his squad for then only to get three league games before the bullet seemed very odd. The timing of it inevitably led to rumours of off the field problems between the manager of board, time will reveal the truth I suppose. I hope Sheridan will be remembered for all the good times he brought to the club including a thrilling League Two championship win and the unforgettable JPT victory at Wembley only last March.
Assistant manager Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley were immediately handed the caretaker reigns and told to get on with the job in hand. Names like Brian Laws, Gary Megson (god forbid) and former player and legend Sean Dyche were bandied around the message boards and Twitter. Chief executive Chris Turner made a statement that the club would not be rushing into a managerial appointment and Tommy and Mark will be given every chance to stake their claim for the job. This seemed a sensible decision as it would provide stability during this unsettling time.
The next shock to hit us all was the news Aston Villa were sniffing around Jordan Bowery as the end of the transfer window closed in. It was rumoured last season a few Championship clubs were keeping an eye on him which was no surprise following his tremendous improvement and the obvious potential that was there for all to see. A premiership club however was a bit of a surprise and when a bid of £500k was tabled, he was always going to be sold. I wish him every success on his move and hope it works out. He’s had a great mentor in Jack Lester since he broke into the Chesterfield squad and I think he’ll do well in the top division, given half a chance.
Fast forward six games since Tommy Wright took charge and his record has to be applauded. Well earned draws away at Gillingham, York and Northampton alongside home victories against Wycombe, Accrington Stanley and a JPT first round win over Oldham, have done his chances of getting the job on a permanent basis no harm. As expected there hasn’t been wholesale changes to the side and it could easily be Sheridan picking the team. What has been noticeable however is the effort and togetherness the players have shown since the change. I made the trip to Bootham Crescent for the game at York and to see the players as gutted as the fans were at York’s last minute equaliser said a lot. The home wins against Wycombe and Accrington Stanley were not convincing by any means but we lost these types of games last season, so you have to say the caretaker manage has brought something to the table.
Next up are Torquay at the Proact (see I’m trying to get used to it!) and another test to see if we are true contenders for promotion this season. The Summer recruits of Marc Richards, Sam Togwell and Sam Hird have all shown the quality they possess, specially in this division. Richards has had a stuttering start to his Spireites career but for has improved game by game. His partnership with Jack Lester showed promise against Accrington Stanley with him getting his first goal for the club. Having said that, all he really had to do that night was watch the master class put on by Lester. Scoring two goals and creating the other two showed what class the guy possesses and how much we will miss him when he finally hangs up his boots. Hopefully some of his magic will rub off on Richards while he’s still around and I for one am looking forward to watching him take Richards under his wing. Thankfully the injury Richards picked up in the final challenge of the game against Accrington Stanley is not as bad as initially feared and he should be back in contention over the next couple of weeks.
So to sum up an interesting start to the season, manager sacked, one of our best players sold and the ground has a new name. If the season continues like this anything could happen. Hold on to your hats Spireites.
Written by Dean Mansell, We Are Going Up’s Chesterfield Blogger & editor of the Away End website.
Dean tweets at @awayend
You can purchase Dean’s book, “The Away End” from Amazon right here.