The 2017/18 season was one of highs and lows for all 24 sides in the Vanarama National League, and next term we’ll have six new sides to face from across the country. This, the first in a six-part series, we take a look at those six new additions to the division, starting with Chesterfield.
Name: Chesterfield Football Club
Nickname: The Spireites
Manager: Martin Allen
Stadium: The Proact Stadium(Capacity: 10,504)
2017/18 league position: 24th (Sky Bet League Two)
Manager Martin Allen arrived at the Proact Stadium earlier this month following his departure from fellow League Two relegation sufferers Barnet.
As a player, Allen enjoyed a 14-year spell with QPR, West Ham United AND Portsmouth before hanging his boots up in 1998 during a brief spell with Southend United.
The Reading-born former midfielder turned to management in 2003 as he took the reigns at Barnet for the first time, before moving on to Brentford a year later. He went on to manage Milton Keynes, Leicester City, Cheltenham Town, Barnet (again), Notts County, Barnet (again) before landing at Gillingham. He guided to Gills to the League Two title in 2013 in a superb 12-months at Priestfield.
He made his way back to Barnet (yes, again) in 2013 and took them to the National League title in 2014/15. After less successful spells at Eastleigh and taking Barnet down last term he took the opportunity at Chesterfield earlier this month in a new challenge for the man nicknamed ‘mad dog’.
Allen has not rested since arriving in Derbyshire, already bringing in three new members of the squad, two of which are very familiar to Wrexham fans. Goalkeeper Shwan Jalal, who spent a season with us in 2016/17 and helped Macclesfield Town to the title last season has been brought in, along with the recently departed Sam Wedgbury. Two experienced players in the division who will be looking to replicate promotions they’ve already earned in their careers.
The third signing comes in the form of 38-year old defender Michael Nelson, who even manager Allen described as ‘very old’. He most recently played with the manager at Barnet and made his footballing debut for Leek Town 21 years ago in 1997.
Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium was opened in 2010 replacing their former ground Saltergate. It’s got a capacity of over 10,500 and will certainly be a ground for many supporters to look forward to visiting next season. It’s first game was a pre-season friendly against Derby County ending in a thrilling 5-4 win for their Derbyshire rivals. It’s first competitive fixture was against Barnet (them again!) in August 2010, with the Spireites running out 2-1 winners. This season will be our first visit to the new ground, which has unrestricted views from across the very smart new facility.
Formed in 1866, the club has a rich 152 year history to it’s name and has won a whole host of honours in their time. In the early years Chesterfield won six Derbyshire Cups from 1899 to 1937 whilst also picking up two Midland League titles and two Third Division (North) titles in the 1930s.
In more recent times they’ve tasted success in the EFL winning the League Two title in 2011 before their relegation back to the fourth tier. In 2012 they won the EFL Trophy and under manager Paul Cook he guided them to the League Two title in 2013 and play-offs in League One a year later. After failing to win promotion Cook departed days later and Chesterfield began a decline. Now though they seek a return to the EFL.