RETRO: Controversy at Saltergate as Tranmere hold Spireites in six-goal thriller

John Clayton, scorer of one of the Chesterfield goals, is denied another when Dave Burgess, the Rovers left-back, uses an arm to prevent a goal.
John Clayton, scorer of one of the Chesterfield goals, is denied another when Dave Burgess, the Rovers left-back, uses an arm to prevent a goal.
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Chesterfield’s engrossing 3-3 draw with Tranmere Rovers at Saltergate on December 18th 1983 was memorable for one controversial moment.

The Spireites came back from two down to take a 3-2 lead before succumbing to a late equaliser.

But had they got their just reward in the incident in this photo, they might have won.

John Clayton, scorer of one of the Chesterfield goals, is denied another when Dave Burgess, the Rovers left-back, uses an arm to prevent a goal.

Despite stern protests play continued, for Burgess to hoof the ball into the stand.

The Spireites were perched in a precarious 18th place after this, but were slowly turning a corner as John Duncan’s new side took shape.

With a record of around one goal every five games Clayton was not the most prolific Chesterfield goalscorer but Rovers obviously saw something in him that afternoon, and signed him in the summer of 1984.

The following season, he and Colin Clarke scored 51 of their side’s 74 league goals, with Clayton accounting for 31 of those.

Happily for Chesterfield this loss was largely irrelevant, as The Spireites charged to the Fourth Division championship.