Chesterfield: Alan Biggs’ Wembley View

A defiant Chesterfield fan at Wembley
A defiant Chesterfield fan at Wembley
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A motorway breakdown for a van carrying Father Christmas was not exactly the best of starts to a fancy dress pilgrimage.

It was also the way it seemed fated to finish as Chesterfield fell to an unlucky Wembley defeat.

But the Spireites are almost as regular as Santa when it comes to making this hallowed journey.

Maybe it was the need of a 10,000 mile service that forced Santa and his helpers onto the M1 embankment just south of junction 29

Misfortune on and off the field apart, a bizarre spectacle witnessed by many of 15,000 travelling fans at least provided some light relief.

And recent history suggests there’ll be more occasions to savour despite Paul Cook’s side losing 3-1 to Peterborough in this JP Trophy final

Where normally there is heartbreak, perspective prevailed after their valiant contribution to an entertaining contest.

Remarkably for a medium-sized town steeped in the lower leagues, this was Chesterfield’s fourth visit to Wembley in 24 years. There are much more highly placed clubs who can’t say that.

With promotion to shoot for, there was nothing too sombre about the journey back even if there was a marked absence of yo-ho-hoing.

“Wembley is our second home now,” said lifelong fan Raymond Griffiths, who has missed only the losing 1990 play-off final against Cambridge.

The Blues beat Bury for a Wembley promotion party five years later and they lifted the Johnstone’s paint pot in 2012.

Olivia Firth, of Dronfield, is just 10 years old but this is already her second trip. Same for 11 year old fan Tom Robinson.

I overhear Tom’s dad telling him: “Now don’t take this for granted. This could be it for the rest of your life.”

Throw in the epic FA Cup semi-final of 1997 and there has never been a better era to be a Spireite.

Not that Cook or his players and fans want to be seeing Wembley again this season. Automatic promotion is much preferred.

And when it comes to a pick-me-up, no tonic soothed more than the words of Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson.

Just one promotion? “No, Chesterfield are so good they could easily go back-to-back,” said the son of Sir Alex.

And he should know, having done it himself. Fergie junior also knew his side had “the rub of the green” yesterday, as he freely admitted.

“Chesterfield are better than many we’ve faced in League One this season,” he said.

So, even for Santas on the M1, this day was no car crash - just another leg of a pleasure trip.