Chesterfield 3 Northampton Town 0

Saturday 12th January 2013
Chesterfield 3 Northampton Town 0
npower League Two
At: Proact Stadium, Sheffield Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £22; Programme: £3 (68 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 5467
Duration: first-half: 47:08; second-half: 48:18

Chesterfield moved within a point of the League Two play-off zone with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Northampton Town. All the goals came within seven first-half minutes with new permanent signing Jay O’Shea opening the scoring and Marc Richards adding the other two.

I really don’t know where the sudden urge came from to leave non-league football behind in favour of a first ‘League’ game since a December 2010 trip to Pride Park. Reading about the rule changes to the 92 Club, which I’ve never been eligible to join, must have put an idea into the back of my head that I was about time I started again making inroads into the 18 or so current stadia in the Premier League and three npower divisions I’d not visited.

I considered Chesterfield as a destination on Boxing Day and again yesterday. The nostalgic part of me thought it a good idea to watch the fixture against Northampton Town on my first visit to The Spireites’ new Proact Stadium as the Cobblers were the opposition on the last of my three visits to the old Saltergate ground back in 1991.

Saltergate was opened in 1871 and used as Chesterfield’s home ground until May 2010 when the club moved to a new purpose-built 10,500 capacity all-seater stadium (Proact Stadium) about 25 minutes walk north of the town centre. The new stadium was built as part of the regeneration of the former Dema Glass site; the company was largest manufacturer of machine-pressed glass in the British Isles before it closed in 2001.

I travelled by train from Staffordshire via Stockport and the Hope Valley line to Sheffield, though that decision led to a few nerves when the Chesterfield-bound train was held up near Hazel Grove because a preceding train had failed. Thankfully that delay didn’t cause any problems. Passing through stations like Edale, Bamford and Hathersage brought back memories of the trips I used to do on the line 30 years ago heading back and forth from Staffordshire to a student life in Sheffield. Back them, trains were either DMU or hauled by a class 31 operating a service from Manchester Piccadilly to Hull, now they are class 158 Express Sprinters serving a route from Manchester to Norwich via Nottingham.

From a tourist’s point of view, I guess the main attraction of a trip to Chesterfield would be to see the crooked spire on the Parish Church of St Mary and All Saints. With time to spare, I walked up hill from the station, crossing the road by the Chesterfield Hotel onto the walkway over the bypass and along the road bending round to the right to the top. There was no missing the church on the left. I’m not sure if this was the norm but the church was open during Saturday lunchtime so I popped in for a quick look. Not having a head for heights, I passed on a tower tour.

I’d pre-booked my ticket before setting out this morning and used ‘Print at home’ [no extra cost]. I’m always nervous about choosing my own seat in advance but no such worries at the Proact as I got a perfect view from the HTM West Stand. Programmes were on sale at various points outside the ground and badges obtained from the club shop, also at £3. No problem obtaining the lineups as there were first announced around 25 minutes before kick-off and repeated at least twice. They were also displayed on the scoreboard at the Rubicon North Stand end for a good ten minutes (if not more) before and during the fair-play handshakes. Names that stood out were Chesterfield’s substitute Jack Lester as well as Northampton’s Clake Carlisle (famous for his appearance on Countdown) and striker Adebeyo Akinfenwa.

League-table wise, little separated Chesterfield (11th with 36 points from 27 games) and Northampton (9th with 39 points from 25 games). As the visitors had only won two of their 11 away league games, I wondered if a home win was the correct prediction.

Before kick-off, I thought about things/facts to do with Chesterfield FC of the top of my head – the odd trip to Saltergate when I was a student in Sheffield during the 1980s and the club reaching the FA Cup semi final before controversially losing to Middlesbrough. The name of ‘Tony Reid’ came into my mind as well. During the mid-1980s, he hugely impressed as a talented midfielder during two spells at Stafford Rangers and listed Chesterfield amongst his former clubs. Also a striker, Danny Barrett, had a more-recent spell on loan at Marston Road when Ian Painter was manager in 2000. John Scott, the manager of Summer League side Coach Rangers, once told me that one of his players, Paul Godfrey, played for Chesterfield as a youngster.

Northampton (wearing a change kit of all lime green) got the game underway. Attacking the Rubicon North Stand in the first half, Chesterfield took the lead in the 18th minute. Jay O’Shea celebrated his permanent move from MK Dons by converted a pass from Danny Whittaker. It was 2-0 barely a minute later when Marc Richards got the better of Clarke Carlisle before planting a shot past goalkeeper Lee Nicholls. Richards completed the scoring in the 25th minute though Northampton’s Chris Hackett hit a post during the second half.

I walked back to the station in plenty of time to catch the 17.39 London-bound train as far as Derby on the first leg of my journey home via Tamworth.

Line-ups, etc. on the BBc website (

1-0 Jay O’Shea (18)
2-0 Marc Richards (19)
3-0 Marc Richards (25)